Re: Are you using <data-about>?

glenn emerson

I’ve never used it either, though I have used <data> quite a bit.

On Sep 1, 2020, at 5:02 PM, wrote:

I have never used data-about, even when I thought it would be a useful thing to do.

Basically, the authoring overhead required to make the authoring of data-about practical coupled with the need to implement whatever data-about processing you might need means that the implementation cost almost (or always) outweighs any potential value from a metadata representation standpoint.

In addition, because the TC has expanded the places where <data> is allowed, it's largely removed the need to be able to point at something within a topic or map in order to impose metadata on to it (the intended purpose of data-about).

I can imagine some use case where you might want to use DITA to impose metadata onto non-DITA objects but doing so with DITA and data-about would be so one-off and outside the mainstream of any existing metadata infrastructure that I can't see it ever being done. And even without data-about you can get the same effect with topicrefs that contain the metadata they want to impose (which is basically what subject scheme does).

I think data-about falls into the category of DITA features that were a good idea at the time or were suggested by design symmetry and completeness but where overtaken by practical realities and other technologies.



Eliot Kimber

On 9/1/20, 4:24 PM, "Kristen James Eberlein" < on behalf of> wrote:

At today's DITA Technical Committee meeting, we discussed the
possibility of removing <data-about> from DITA 2.0. The
rationale for removal is:

* The spec element-reference topic is extremely convoluted.
Neither spec editors (Robert Anderson and I) has been able to
rework it and make it comprehensible.

* There is nothing done with <data-about> that cannot be
done with <data>.

* We suspect that the element is little used -- and if used, is
usually misused.

So, our query to the larger DITA-using community:

* Does your implementation use the <data-about> element?

* (If the <data-about> element is used) What are the use
cases for <data-about>? Please note that these should be
actual, not theoretical.

As always, thanks for your participation in the dita-users list.


Kristen James Eberlein
Chair, OASIS DITA Technical Committee
OASIS Distinguished Contributor
Principal consultant, Eberlein Consulting LLC <>
+1 919 622-1501; kriseberlein (skype)

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