The <data> element represents properties ranging from simple values to complex structures. Processes can harvest the <data> element for automated manipulation or to format data associated with the body flow. The <data> element is primarily intended for use in creating specializations.
You can nest <data> elements for structures. You can use the name attribute to indicate the semantic of instances of the <data> element such as addresses, times, amounts, and so on. In many cases, however, you may prefer to specialize the <data> element for more precise semantics and for constraints on structures and values. For instance, a specialization can specify an enumeration for the value attribute.
In some cases, it isn't possible or convenient to maintain a property as part of the content of its subject. For instance, you might prefer to maintain extensive data in the <prolog> that applies to a note or example within the body. To handle such exceptions, you can use the <data-about> element to identify the subject of the property.
A process can harvest the data values for a machine-processable representation such as RDF. The default formatting ignores the <data> element within the <body> element. Understanding whether and how the properties should display, customized or specialized processing can extend formatting to include data values in some formatted outputs.
Uses of the <data> element include the following:
The following example specifies the delimited source code for a code fragment so an automated process can refresh the code fragment. The <fragmentSource>, <sourceFile>, <startDelimiter>, and <endDelimiter> elements are specialized from <data> but the <codeFragment> is specialized from <codeblock>. These properties wouldn't appear in the formatted output (except perhaps for debugging problems in the refresh):
<example> <title>An important coding technique</title> <codeFragment> <fragmentSource> <sourceFile value="helloWorld.java"/> <startDelimiter value="FRAGMENT_START_1"/> <endDelimiter value="FRAGMENT_END_1"/> </fragmentSource> ... </codeFragment> </example>
The following example identifies a real estate property as part of a house description. The <realEstateProperty> element and everything it contains are specialized from <data>. The <houseDescription> element is specialized from <section>. A specialized process can format the values to identify the lot if appropriate for the brochure.
<houseDescription> <title>A great home for sale</title> <realEstateProperty> <realEstateBlock value="B7"/> <realEstateLot value="4003"/> ... </realEstateProperty> <p>This elegant....</p> <object data="B7_4003_tour360Degrees.swf"/> </houseDescription>
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OASIS DITA Version 1.1 Architectural Specification -- Committee Specification, 31 May 2007
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