Writing with a sense of lasting legacy means being mindful of how your information may be browsed and reused beyond the moment. One way to represent persisting sequence and structure is with lists. An unordered list of related links needs nothing more than linkpool as a container, but when sequence and sub-groups matter, the linklist element is the way to organize those links.
Sequence matters whenever a body of information is linear: when a dependency must be satisfied or learned before the next thing makes sense. Biographical or documentary writing tends to follow a timeline, training material follows a curriculum plan for learning goals, and procedural information often depends on solving or completing prerequisite steps in order to get to a final outcome.
Whenever an operation involves multiple other tasks for which you want to provide explicit navigation, use related links with either linkpool lists (where the listed links have no particular sequential importance to each other) or linklist lists (where the listed links represent a required sequence of reading or procedural actions.
The same logic may be used for non-tasks, where sequence may indicate other dependent relationships: chronology(as mentioned), relative importance, place in line, and so forth. If the items in a list actually have numeric or letter names, this is not the same as an ordered list, where changing the order of the items changes the prefix next to each item. In this case, consider using linkpool for topic-level references and definition lists for in-topic lists (where the dt defining term element is a way that you can associate a name or number to its related text).
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In a way, the use of linklist and linkpool for sets of links is a macrocosm of what goes on inside a DITA task, in which you may use either steps (sequenced actions) as the analog of linklist or steps-unordered (independent and often optional actions) as the analog of linkpool.
- DITA 1.2 Spec: linklist
- “Life Can Be So Nonlinear,” a mathematician’s classic essay that explains chaos theory through familiar and observable experiences. This is exemplary reading for the technical writer who deals with profound concepts that need to be brought down to a lay reader’s level. Although this is a paywalled article, the free first page gives an idea of the author’s approach. Our take-away here is that you may believe in absolute order if you wish, but your assurance of it may only be 99.973632482031% reliable.