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Re: Broken link at http://www.gnu.org/software/texinfo/

From: Karl Berry
Subject: Re: Broken link at http://www.gnu.org/software/texinfo/
Date: Sat, 5 Jul 2008 18:50:50 -0500

Hi John,

Thanks for writing!

    1) clearly separating parsing from formatting,

Indeed.  It is not an easy problem, though.  Every space in the input is
potentially significant.  Macros complicate things enormously.  Backward
compatibility has to be 100%.  The current code fundamentally intermixes
reading and writing (it was never designed to output anything but Info),
and so is extremely hard to use as a model or even generally comprehend
(at least for me).  And so on and so forth ...

I made some abortive efforts at starting a rational reimplementation
years ago (long-time members of the mailing list may remember previous
discussions on the subject) but never got anywhere significant.  It
seems I'd have to stop everything else I'm doing to have enough time and
focus to write such a thing, and I don't see that happening, ever.

    2) using GUILE to store parsed Texinfo input, so one can write Scheme
    code to play with this input,
    3) making HTML output completely customizable (like texi2html), using
    GUILE (like LilyPond),

Yes, those are the lines I was thinking along too.  (Not that I ever got
anywhere near to Guile.)

    - generating skeletons of Texinfo files to start a translation (it's
    very useful to mention original node names in English in the

Non-English documents are another huge unsolved problem with the overall
Texinfo system.  But I digress.

    - outputting the tree of nodes and sections to make cross-references
    easier in complex situations

FYI, another contributor sent me a --internal-links option, to dump out
index/toc terms as a tsv file.  It probably wouldn't be impossible to
dump out the node/section tree too.  Not that I've looked into it, and
since you've already switched it doesn't matter.

    ï»¿3) is precisely what is making us switch to texi2html.


    The [implementation] options I see are

If I was going to participate in any reimplementation, I'd want to do it
in C.  (Sorry.)  But since I'm not, it doesn't matter.  Whoever does the
work gets to choose :).  I would simply turn over maintenance of Texinfo
when it comes to fruition.  I'm already barely doing anything except
integrating patches.

    it will take years to achieve if I'm the only (programming amateur)
    guy on this.

Given that I've wanted to rewrite it from scratch for over a decade now,
"years" doesn't sound so bad :).

    Would it be worthwhile to issue a call for help to implement these

A "call for help" has existed for years in various places.  The effort
required requires so much dedication to get started so "random"
contributors aren't likely to help much, IMHO.  The core has to exist,
and I think it can only work if it's the vision of a single person, or
at most a couple people working very closely.

    Karl, if you think my help might be valuable, shall we go into private
    discussion about sending a copyright disclaimer and related issues?

Well, it can't hurt to do a copyright disclaimer in any case, though I
fear I've been too discouraging ...

Anyway, off to make another pretest.


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