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RE: Transclusion Issues

I have been looking at some of the issues involved surrounding
transclusion lately and I thought I would bounce some of the issues off of
the list to see what you other Xanies think.

If text is transcluded from another point, there seems to me to be a
number of problems surrounding the markup from the original text.

For instance:

1) Should the markup from the original source be maintained and exibit its
   attributes in the text that transcludes it?  For example, if the text
   is in normal face font and the text transcludes another text that
   happens to be bold, should the bold be maintained?

2) Should the author which creates a text which transcludes another text
   be capable of modifying the attributes of the transcluded text?  (I.e.,
   should the author of the primary text be able to add bold, italic, etc.
   to the transcluded text?)  One argument would be that if a author can
   add attributes to the transcluded text, the author is simply modifying
   its format to fit the current textual presentation.  OTOH, this could
   intefere with the "art" of writing the transcluded text.  (Some people
   might get a bit sensitive of people bolding, italicizing, changing
   the fonts, whatever, of the transcluded text.

[Jay Osako]  This is a difficult one in regards to HTML. If I'm correct,
in Xanadu the issue is one of front ends - since markup is handled
as links, rather than inline, it the decision of the documenter (or at 
least the programmer writing the viewer) whether to keep the font and 
sizing properties, by keeping or eliminating the links. With in-band
markup, its harder to allow that flexibility; you'd have to either set a
fixed policy,  leavingone side or another dissatisfied, or else have a
complex system of explicit enable/disable markups. Moreover (apropos
your question below) if your including the markup, you have to process
the whole document at least once to get the correct markup (the server
will probably cache both the transclusion and the markup for it, but
that just move the issue to a different level and to some extent defeats
the purpose). It probably would be best to have no carryover as a default,
as in Xanadu; the content, after all, should be the message, MacLuhan
notwithstanding. What's *really* complex is the handling things like
Java applets and other forms of active pages; I can't really think of
a suitable solution in the general case for HTML.

3) What granularity should the transcluded text maintain?  What I mean by
this is that there is a strong movement towards marking up the structure
of a document and then assigning the fonts and other textual attributes
based on the structure based on this -- SGML like (For example, all
headers are Palentino, 25 pt, Bold.)  Should the transcluded text have to
maintain an entire document structure?  For example, if you want to
included part of a header, should you be able to included only part of it
(say, 3-4 words) or should you have to include all of it since you are
including the "header" and to prevent the meaning from being manipulated
in the presentation? On one side, you could argue that by forcing a author
to include an entire document structure (header, paragraph, footnote,
etc.) it avoids words being taken out of context and if someone includes
something they are including a "whole" something. On the other side, it
could become quite combersome to have to do so. 

[Jay Osako]  My view is that, if possible, only the transcluded material
should be picked up, but that it should have a backlink to the source.
Most browsers would probably pre-cache the source (esp if it had to
process it for markup anyway), and the link should spawn a seperate
browser window to allow comparisons, but those are front-end issues
and different browsers will probably handle them differently.  

There are a number of other issues along these lines.

I would be interested to hear if anyone else has thought about these
issues.  (And what they thought. :)

Jay Osako