Use the reference elements to describe regular features of sets of things,
most commonly the commands in a programming language. However, this format
is also suitable for recipes, bibliographies, catalogues, and similar collections
of structured descriptive prose.
The <reference> element defines a top-level
container for a reference topic. Reference topics document programming constructs
or facts about a product. Examples of reference topics include language elements,
class descriptions, commands, functions, statements, protocols, types, declarators,
operands, and API information, which provide quick access to facts, but no
explanation of concepts or procedures. Reference topics have the same high-level
structure as any other topic type, with a title, short description, and body.
Within the body, reference topics are typically organized into one or more
sections, property lists, and tables. The reference topic type provides general
rules that apply to all kinds of reference information, using elements like <refsyn>
for syntax or signatures, and <properties> for lists
of properties and values.
The <refbody> element is a container for
the main content of the reference topic. Reference topics limit the body structure
to tables (both simple and standard), property lists, syntax sections, and
generic sections and examples, in any sequence or number.
The <refsyn> element is a special section
inside a reference topic. The section often contains syntax or signature content
(for example, a command-line utility's calling syntax, or an API's signature).
The <refsyn> contains a brief, possibly diagrammatic
description of the subject's interface or high-level structure.
The <properties> element gives a list of
properties for the subject of the current topic, for example whether a class
is public or protected. Each property can include the type, value, and a description.
The typical rendering is usually in a table-like format. To represent multiple
values for a type, just create additional property elements and use only the <propvalue>
element (and <propdesc> when needed) for each successive
The prophead element supports regular headings for the properties element.
The proptypehd element supports regular headings for the type column of a properties table.
The propvaluehd element supports regular headings for the value column of a properties table.
The propdeschd element supports regular headings for the description column of a properties table.
The <property> element represents a property
of the current topic's subject. For example, if the current topic is a class,
the property might show that the class is protected rather than public. It
contains three optional elements: type, value, and description.
The proptype element describes the type of property.
The <propvalue> element indicates the value
or values for the current property type. You can put values in separate rows
if they need separate descriptions, and just leave the <proptype>
The <propdesc> element is used to provide
a short description of the property type and its listed values (or just the
OASIS DITA Language Specification v1.0 -- 09 May 2005
Copyright (c) OASIS Open 2005. All Rights Reserved.