Shortdesc and the two attitudes #shortdesc


On the one hand, people say, "Oh shortdesc is a fine idea because the reader who sees the detail in a hover help or other situation can learn much about what a given topic covers."

On the other hand, people say, "Oh shortdesc is dreadful.  I don't want the same phrase to be at the start of a topic (or in an abstract tag) that I want to show in other contexts.  I can't perfect both kinds of outputs at the same time."

I say that both of these ideas are true and that the idea of shortdesc likely originated as part of an industrial process:  "We'll save the writer time.  It's an efficiency!"

Yes, you can overwrite shortdesc by including it in a topicref-embedded topicmeta tag:

          <topicmeta> <shortdesc>I say what I wanna</shortdesc> </topicmeta>

But that situation does not apply to all uses, or so I believe.

My question is, is something in my understanding incorrect, such that one can use a different mechanism; and if not, do other people wish that the DITA folks would provide the right solution, which is allowing a second, completely separate tag to take precedence so that an author might write a shortdesc wholly outside of the start of a topic.

Bob Thomas

You could modify the stylesheets to exclude shortdesc from the text. Or, you make this behavior selectable by having the stylesheets test the outputclass attribute to see whether shortdesc ought to be included in the text.

Bob Thomas
Tagsmiths, LLC


The long and the shortdesc of it:  you're brilliant.