DITA Proposed Feature #12011

More general task type.

Longer description

The DITA task specialization specifies a rather restrictive content model. Substantial interest exists in specifiying a less restrictive container for task and task-like information. This proposal advocates the following approach:

Statement of Requirement

The new <task> specialization must:

Use Cases

This proposal supports the following use cases:

Adopters could choose between the DITA 1.2 and DITA 1.1 (constrained) <task> specializations, depending on requirements of the organization. Authors and adopters could choose between the two specializations depending on requirements of individual topics.


Moderate. Requires modification of several content models, and specification of the appropriate constraints to emulate the DITA 1.1 <task> model.

Technical Requirements

Note: These technical requirements are essentially identical to those first proposed in http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/down.

The feature entails:

Highlights of the proposed DITA 1.2 <task> specialization include:

Proposed content model for <taskbody>. Note the loosening of the constraints on <prereq> and <context> and the addition of a <section> element before the (steps | steps-unordered) group. <postreq> and <example> are also now optional and repeatable:

(prereq | context | section)*, (steps | steps-unordered | process)?, result?, example*, postreq*)

Proposed content model for <steps> and <steps-unordered>. <stepsection> is a specialization of <li> (sharing the same content model) and supports additional expository text between <step> elements.

Note that specialized processing is required to avoid numbering <stepsection> elements.
(stepsection?, step)+

Proposed content model for <step>. Note the optional, repeatable <note> element. Note also that <itemgroup> has been added, primarily as a container for specialization.

(info | substeps | tutorialinfo | stepxmp |  choicetable | choices | itemgroup)*,

Proposed content model for <process>, a specialization of <ol>:


New or Changed Specification Language

To be supplied.


Risks: Potential mis-use of the less restrictive <task> content model by implementers and authors.

TC Discussion: 1-2 meetings

DTD/Schema modifications: 2 days

Documentation: 2 days

Open Toolkit and Vendor support: Relatively easy, assuming the OT and vendors implement the DITA 1.2 constraints mechanism. No new or special behaviors are being defined.


This proposal will improve the ease of DITA adoption for industries in which the current <step> content model is unacceptably or unnecessarily restrictive.