Re: [Tools-discuss] Why do we even have text formats any more?

Eric Rescorla <ekr@rtfm.com> Wed, 28 July 2021 02:22 UTC

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From: Eric Rescorla <ekr@rtfm.com>
Date: Tue, 27 Jul 2021 19:21:26 -0700
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To: Martin Thomson <mt@lowentropy.net>
Cc: tools-discuss <tools-discuss@ietf.org>
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Subject: Re: [Tools-discuss] Why do we even have text formats any more?
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FWIW, I generally do reviews by pulling the .txt file into my editor and
then
cutting and pasting the pieces I want to respond to. Presumably I could find
some way to make that work with HTML if we ditched the text format entirely
though it would probably be somewhat less convenient.

-Ekr


On Tue, Jul 27, 2021 at 6:54 PM Martin Thomson <mt@lowentropy.net> wrote:

> I realize that this might be a little inflammatory as far as subjects go,
> but bear with me.
>
> There are probably a few narrow cases where rendering plain text is better
> than HTML.  But what we've been doing for years (thanks to Henrik's great
> tool) is take text and turn it into HTML using the power of regular
> expressions.  That's been good, but it's not always reliable (how many
> errata mention that "Section X of [FOO]" links to Section X of this
> document?).  It's also been lagging as the text format changed (case in
> point: lack of a table of contents).
>
> Here's an alternative: style the HTML so that it looks like the text.  I
> tried this and it worked shockingly well.
>
> Repo: https://github.com/martinthomson/rfc-txt-html
> Demo: https://martinthomson.github.io/rfc-txt-html/diff.html
>
> This isn't perfect, but it seems pretty good to me.  Keep in mind that
> this took only a little bit of time to sketch out. No doubt it can be
> improved.  The readme has a bunch of things I found, all minor.
>
> I don't think that this is the end of text, but a possible way to limit
> our use of the htmlizer[1].  People who need to automate access to content
> might still use text, though I will argue that XML is superior in that
> regard.   The other thing that comes to mind is diffs: HTML-native diff
> tools are somewhat less than ideal.  Either way, serving HTML is just
> better.
>
> Enjoy,
> Martin
>
>
> [1] Though I still see a shocking number of people authoring in XML (or
> XML-capable input formats) and submitting in text.  But I think we have
> plans to limit that.
>
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