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Re: html texinfo install?

From: Eric Siegerman
Subject: Re: html texinfo install?
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2004 19:51:06 -0500
User-agent: Mutt/1.2.5i

On Tue, Feb 17, 2004 at 05:02:45PM -0500, Karl Berry wrote:
>     Couldn't the developer specify the minimum version of Texinfo which is
>     required in order to handle the docs?  

I'd like to see this.  Every time I've tried to feed a .info file
to a too-old texinfo, I've gotten some random error message about
the illegal input.  Not the most useful diagnostic for a version

> In practice, no one has time for that.  As you say, they therefore could
> specify what they use (the latest, probably),


> and then older versions
> will fail (when they shouldn't, probably).

That's an interesting question.  Absent a minimum-version check,
how probable is it that older versions will fail anyway, because
they can't understand the .texi file -- how forward compatible
does texinfo tend to be?  (You've already said that you strive
for *backward* compatibility, and I'm not disputing that, but
it's beside my current point.)  Here's why it matters:

If a .texi file developed with version X of texinfo is very
likely to be usable with older versions, then yes, requiring at
least version X will force a lot of people to upgrade

But if the .texi file is *unlikely* to be usable with older
texinfo versions; people will have to upgrade in any case, not
merely because of the version check.  The only question is
whether they find that out via a nice message that "texinfo
version X.Y or higher is required", or from some random error
message about whichever feature of the .info file their texinfo
program tripped over first.

Thus, whether there should be a minimum-version check depends at
least in part on how probable it is that the check will force
people *unnecessarily* into texinfo upgrades, and thus on how
good texinfo versions are at reading *newer* files.

FWIW, my own experience is that texinfo's forward compatibility
can be rather low.  And it's based on that experience that I'm
speaking out in favour of a version check.  (I intend this
opinion *not* as a criticism, but merely as a data point relevent
to the version-check question.  It's perfectly ok to add new
features that require the new program version to process them;
it's a disregard for *backward* compatibility that's antisocial
behaviour, and again, I'm not accusing texinfo of that!)


|  | /\
|-_|/  >   Eric Siegerman, Toronto, Ont.        address@hidden
|  |  /
It must be said that they would have sounded better if the singer
wouldn't throw his fellow band members to the ground and toss the
drum kit around during songs.
        - Patrick Lenneau

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