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2. A Basic Introduction

This section incrementally introduces the most important aspects of the system. After reading this chapter you should be able to specify style files for about 80% of the commonly used indexes. The examples are demonstrated with a TeX markup so one can easily typeset the results xindy produces. You need LaTeX and the ISO-Latin enhancements that come with the inputenc package to run the following examples. Also the xindy system must already be installed.

But this tutorial doesn't reflect real life any more. The concepts are introduced below to explain them, but actual usage is probably different. In particular, you should not expect to specify sort rules by hand; usually one uses the language modules for that. Same way, xindy standard modules provide lots of markup functionality that you need for your documents, and can be used as a starting point. Nevertheless, let's continue with the explanation of xindy's style file language.

2.1 Running xindy

Create a new directory somewhere and copy some files from the distribution directory doc/style-tutorial/ by typing

eg$ mkdir tutorial
eg$ cd tutorial
eg$ cp <distrib-dir>/doc/style-tutorial/*.raw .
eg$ cp <distrib-dir>/doc/style-tutorial/*.tex .

with distrib-dir replaced by the actual location. Now create a file style1.xdy with the following content:

;; This is a first example using `xindy'.

(define-location-class "page-numbers" ("arabic-numbers"))
(define-attributes (("definition" "usage")))

Now run xindy by typing

eg$ xindy -t ex1.xlg -M style1 -I xindy ex1.raw

You should see something like

Opening logfile "ex1.xlg" (done)
Reading indexstyle...
Loading module "style1.xdy"...
Finished loading module "style1.xdy".
Finished reading indexstyle.
Finalizing indexstyle... (done)

Reading raw-index "ex1.raw"...
Finished reading raw-index.

Processing index... [10%] [20%] [30%] [40%] [50%] [60%] [70%] [80%] [90%] [100%]
Finished processing index.

Writing markup... [10%] [20%] [30%] [40%] [50%] [60%] [70%] [80%] [90%] [100%]
Markup written into file "ex1.ind".

xindy has now successfully compiled the index ex1.raw using your index style style1.xdy. The result is now stored in file ex1.ind. You can view this file but currently it only contains an unreadable mix of data.

But now let's come back to our index style. The syntax of the command is in a Lisp-like form with lots of braces, looking a little bit weird, but you'll soon get used to it. What is the meaning of the two commands we specified? The first command informed xindy that we like to process page numbers. We do this by defining a new location class named page-numbers. The page numbers consist of arabic-numbers as we might expect but this is not necessarily true---imagine your page numbers consisted of roman numerals instead. When reading the raw index contained in file ex1.raw xindy checks all locations if they match all known location classes. Since in our example the only known location class is the class of page numbers which are written using arabic digits, all locations will be checked if they are correct page numbers.

The second command tells xindy that we use two types of attributes for location references. Most often the locations in an index denote different meanings. For example, in mathematical texts one will distinguish the definition of a mathematical term from its usage. Sometimes these are typeset using different font shapes such as italic or font series such as boldface. Each location has an associated attribute which, if it is unspecified, defaults to the attribute default. With this command you have made these attributes known to the system, which makes it possible to assign different markup to these attributes later on.

2.2 Adding some Markup

Until now you haven't seen something exciting, so its time to specify some markup. Add the following lines to our index style:

(markup-index :open  "~n\begin{theindex}~n"
              :close "~n\end{theindex}~n"

(markup-locref :class "page-numbers" :attr "definition"
               :open  "{\bf " :close "}")

(markup-locclass-list :open "\quad{}")
(markup-locref-list :sep ", ")

Now run xindy again and afterwards LaTeX:

eg$ xindy -t ex1.xlg -M style1 -I xindy ex1.raw
eg$ latex ex1.tex

You can view ex1.dvi with your prefered viewer (maybe xdvi or something else) to get a first impression of your results. Maybe your are not satisfied (for sure you aren't), because it still looks very confusing. What did the above rules tell xindy? When you view the file ex1.ind which is the result xindy generates, you'll recognize some of the markup tags you specified. The following is an excerpt of this file:

  academia\quad{}{\bf 1}acafetado\quad{}{\bf 2}acalmar\quad{}{\bf 4}
  açafrão\quad{}{\bf 3}indexflat\quad{}1hierarchical\quad{}2
  veryhierarchical\quad{}3impressive\quad{}4saber\quad{}{\bf 7}
  sabor\quad{}{\bf 8}sabão\quad{}{\bf 6}sábado\quad{}{\bf 5}

First of all you'll see that the file starts with the string \begin{theindex} and ends with \end{theindex}. Additionally some locations are correctly enclosed into a TeX macro that typesets them in shape boldface, whereas others aren't. The boldface ones are all those locations from the raw index that have the attribute definition.

The :open and :close keyword arguments each take a string as argument. The first one is written to the file when opening an enviroment, whereas the latter one closes an environment. What we have specified is the markup for the whole index (which is actually printed only once) and the markup for all locations of class page-numbers which own the attribute definition. Here we have cleanly separated the structured markup from the visual one, allowing an easy redefinition if we decide, for example, to markup the definition-locations in italics instead of boldface.

Some words on keyword arguments and switches. Keyword arguments such as :open or :close always take exactly one argument which must be positioned right after the keyword separated by a whitespace (a blank or a tab-stop). Switches don't take any arguments. For example, :tree in the command markup-index is a switch and thus it does not take an argument. We will use this terminology throughout the rest of this document.

The third command caused xindy to insert a horizontal space between the keyword and the locations (the TeX command \quad{} simply inserts a specific horizontal space). The last command caused xindy to separate all location references from each other with a comma followed by a blank, independently of any location class.

As you already may have observed, the tilde sign (~) serves as a quoting character.

We continue specifying markup to get a printable result by adding more markup:

(markup-indexentry :open "~n  \item "           :depth 0)
(markup-indexentry :open "~n    \subitem "      :depth 1)
(markup-indexentry :open "~n      \subsubitem " :depth 2)

This assigns different markup for the different hierarchy layers of the indexentries. Our index is hierarchically organized. It contains items which themselves contain more sub-items which also might contain sub-sub-items. Each layer is started by a different markup which is correctly assigned with the :depth keyword argument. The layers are numbered by their depth starting from zero.

Now run xindy and TeX again and enjoy your first index. It's easy, isn't it! The output ex1.ind looks like the following:


 \item academia\quad{}{\bf 1}
 \item acafetado\quad{}{\bf 2}
 \item acalmar\quad{}{\bf 4}
 \item açafrão\quad{}{\bf 3}
 \item index
    \subitem flat\quad{}1
    \subitem hierarchical\quad{}2
    \subitem very
      \subsubitem hierarchical\quad{}3
      \subsubitem impressive\quad{}4
 \item saber\quad{}{\bf 7}
 \item sabor\quad{}{\bf 8}
 \item sabão\quad{}{\bf 6}
 \item sábado\quad{}{\bf 5}


Hmm, as you might have seen there are several problems that need further investigation. The index contains some Portuguese words that are printed correctly but should appear at other positions inside the index. For instance, the word sábado should appear before the word saber since á must be sorted as if it were simply an a. The reason why these words are not sorted correctly is simple---the accentuated letters have codes beyond position 128 in the ISO-Latin alphabet. Sorting based on these codes yields this incorrect order.

What to do? We can define for each of the words containing these special characters an explicit print key. The print key describes the printed representation of the keyword whereas the key or main key is used for sorting and merging. A very tedious task which is not a very clever solution since in a non-english language many many words contain these special cases. We follow the way xindy offers: keyword-mappings.

2.3 Keyword Mappings

What are keyword mappings for? A good question. I'll try to give some answers.

A detailed elaboration of these ideas can be found in the paper An International Version of MakeIndex by Joachim Schrod [3]. It describes the ideas that led to modifications on one of the ancestors of the xindy system: makeindex [4].

The keyword mappings are as follows. The merge key is generated from the main key with the so called merge mapping. The merge mapping can be specified with the command merge-rule. The sort key is derived from the merge key using the sort mapping specified with the sort-rule command. The following scheme shows this mapping process:

We will use this command now to define a suitable sort mapping that fits our needs:

(sort-rule "à" "a")
(sort-rule "á" "a")
(sort-rule "ã" "a")
(sort-rule "è" "e")
(sort-rule "é" "e")
(sort-rule "ç" "c")

These rules define mappings from a keyword to a normalized version. In the logfile ex1.xlg these transformations are logged so that one can see how these mappings are performed. In this example we do not need any merge-rule but we will see applications in further examples.

Running xindy and TeXing the result now places the indexentries at the right positions.

In reality, such sort rules tend to be much more complex, due to the idiosynchrasies of sorting natural languages. Sort rules for many languages are available as part of the xindy distribution, as so-called language modules. We specify the language with the option -L, e.g., in our example we could have used

eg$ xindy -t ex1.xlg -M style1 -L portuguese -I xindy ex1.raw

If we use one of the available language modules, sort rules in user-written xindy styles are ignored.

The result is now quite satisfying if the index entries weren't clumped together that much. We usually want the different index entries beginning with the same letter be optically separated from the ofhers. This improves readability and there must be a way to accomplish this---the letter groups.

2.4 Letter Groups

To group indexentries we must define what indexentries form a group. The clustering is done by matching the keywords' prefixes (taken from the sort key) with a user-defined table of prefixes and define appropriate markup that separates the groups from each other. Here it goes.

  ("a" "b" "c" "d" "e" "f" "g" "h" "i" "j" "k" "l" "m"
   "n" "o" "p" "q" "r" "s" "t" "u" "v" "w" "x" "y" "z"))

(markup-letter-group-list :sep "~n\indexspace")

This defines the given list of letter groups. When forming the letter groups, each letter group is checked if it matches a prefix of the indexentries' sort key. The longest match assigns the index entry to this letter group. If no match was possible the index entry is put into group default.

The result now looks much better than before. You have now learned the basic features that you need to specify everyday indexes. In the next chapter we'll continue to make you an expert in indexing.

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