you should not feel bad about I-D document format preferences (was: very mangled subject)

Keith Moore <moore@network-heretics.com> Sat, 31 October 2020 11:18 UTC

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Subject: you should not feel bad about I-D document format preferences (was: very mangled subject)
To: ietf@ietf.org
References: <20201026181442.GA2438@faui48f.informatik.uni-erlangen.de> <CAMm+LwiVmE=qtSPCMD-3foPODL8bgETj3dQDKS-3BOM2021dEg@mail.gmail.c om> <CADaq8jdSeTDWy_0fCV25ykxKFMV1ZBtUMMNesoOuaXCzFVfpOA@mail.gmail.com> <D2D0455D-8D6C-4A19-ACAE-4DD972D83DC1@bluepopcorn.net> <20201028164053.GB12700@faui48f.informatik.uni-erlangen.de> <263C265C19B24BA97AF48934@PSB> <225062D7-C061-4543-8665-53A4F4831510@isc.org> <20201029005519.GT39170@kduck.mit.edu> <A05242FC-C38C-474F-A2AC-412329CA5C52@isc.org> <47fae06e-7c21-ec12-d6de-903fee3f3ad4@gmx.de> <cbf43e3f-05a3-368b-21dd-d15001326094@network-heretics.com> <ADC3E9AA6315978C909BD25B@PSB>
From: Keith Moore <moore@network-heretics.com>
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Date: Sat, 31 Oct 2020 07:18:41 -0400
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First, I am sorry if I gave the impression that I thought any of "you 
should feel bad" about any preferences you might have for either 
input/authoring/revision or output formats for RFCs.  I'm pretty sure 
that was not my intention.

(I do appreciate Warren's mention of that, though.   I was raised and 
schooled in a world full of "you should feel bad", and it's a poor habit 
of both speaking and thinking.   And I struggle to think of occasions in 
which "you should feel bad" have actually helped people be wiser or 
better informed.)

I have used all of the RFC output formats and continue to find all of 
them useful.   If paginated plain text were added to the existing 
formats, I'm not sure that I would use that format very often, but its 
existence wouldn't bother me either.   Even though I dislike the XML as 
an input/authoring/revision format, I see its value as a common format 
from which multiple output formats can be derived.  (And I do not 
believe that "you should feel bad" if you either happen to like the XML 
or prefer paginated text as an output format.)

The frustration which I was trying to express is something more like 
this:  Every time I submit a new I-D, I dread the process of fighting 
with the format and the tools, generally under deadline pressure of some 
kind.    Making the tools happy has often required more work than 
writing the text itself.   And occasionally I've been unable to get the 
tools to produce the output in a form that I thought would be most 
readable.

The problems I've seen aren't entirely with the XML2RFC language and the 
document processing tools, but also with the many requirements (for 
boilerplate etc) that we're expected to fulfill just in order to submit 
what used to be an informal proposal.   Or at least it appears that way 
when I use the I-D submission tool. I remember when I could write an 
acceptable I-D using nothing more than emacs, and about the only 
requirement was knowing what email address to send it to.

I got into the habit of using the xml2rfc language long ago when it 
seemed like the best way to make sure that the I-D would pass all of the 
various requirements for submitting one.   (That was right after I had 
an I-D rejected, and missed a submission deadline, because I fixed a 
grammatical error in some of the prescribed boilerplate text.)

But I just realized from filling out Jay's survey that there are now a 
lot of I-D authoring tools that I wasn't aware of, and that I didn't 
find the last time I looked for such tools sometime within the past 
year.  (thanks Jay!)   So I'm glad to see that more such tools exist, 
and I hope to find time to evaluate some of them before once again 
facing another deadline to write a new I-D.

Keith