[Top][All Lists]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: address@hidden: RE: cannot find :enable in Elisp manualindex]

From: Alan Mackenzie
Subject: Re: address@hidden: RE: cannot find :enable in Elisp manualindex]
Date: Sat, 2 Jun 2007 11:18:10 +0100
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.9i

Morning, Richard!

On Fri, Jun 01, 2007 at 10:54:02PM -0400, Richard Stallman wrote:
[Drew Adams]:
>     Is there no way to escape a colon somehow, so that Info does not
>     interpret it? The Texinfo manual says that this limitation is
>     because "a colon separates the menu entry name from the node name,
>     so a colon in the entry name confuses Info." If there is no way to
>     escape a colon - to let Info know when a colon doesn't indicate a
>     menu + entry, then shouldn't there be?

> In the long term, we could redesign Info format.  However, such a change
> takes years to put into place.

Would enhancing the format with some quoting convention really amount to
a redesign, rather than just being an incremental enhancement?

> Instead of doing this, perhaps it would be better to replace the
> format with a completely new format.

Hmm.  I don't think that would go down well - "oh, not _another_ silly
document format from these wierd free software types".  ;-(  I think
that would push projects to use inferior (see below) existing formats
rather than "Infoplus".

> I wonder if we could use some limited subset of HTML, so that Emacs
> could display it even though it doesn't really understand HTML.
> Meanwhile, any browser could also display it, and standalone Info
> could be a variant of a browser.

> Karl, what do you think?

I'm not Karl, but....

I think this is a horrible idea.  I used to get lots of emails in HTML,
and I hated it.  The great thing about Info format is that you can read
it.  It's text.  You can dump it to a terminal, you can print it, you
can read it in Emacs, you can read it in an email client, you can read
it in the bath.  You can grep it, wc it, AWK it, perl it, head it, tail
it, and tailor it to ANY purpose with standard GNU tools.  Heck, you can
even write an Info file directly in Emacs (not that anyone does, of

Info files have a very high signal/noise ratio.  95%, perhaps?  HTML
files have a much lower one.  Maybe around 40% on a good day.  Even with
hard drive sizes of several hundred gigabytes, I don't think we should
be cluttering up people's disks with megabytes of dumb html tags.

Now I predict that someone else is going to respond with "hey, why don't
we just use docbook?".  Well, why not?  For a start, [A-Z]+ML are
ghastly formats for people.  They're not really human readable, and thus
need special tools to edit them.  How many people edit XML directly in
Emacs?  I've tried it, and it's not nice.  You can't comment out
sections of code, it's almost as bloated as Cobol, and it uses stropped
keywords rather than braces to delimit sections.

Stropped keywords?  Anybody else here remember when you had to write
'begin' ..... 'end' in Algol (including the quotes)?  Thankfully that
became BEGIN .... END in everybody's "not my favourite" language, and
optimally became { .... } with C (and superoptimally a bit of
indentation in Python).  XML has gone back to the bad old Algol days

<YUCK> .... </YUCK>.

What is so difficult about quoting : in Info?  (And, for that matter,
other characters like "." as in @xref{Sample .emacs File,,,ccmode}).
Little more than identifying a suitable quoting character.  \ won't do,
because you'd break compatibility with every other existing manual.

However, we're surely not restricted to plain ASCII anymore, or are we?
So why couldn't we quote things with non-break-space (0xA0)?  That would
be minimally obtrusive when just reading the Info file as text.  In
Texinfo, it could be represented something like @quote{:}.  It would be
minimal work to implement in Texinfo.

Alan Mackenzie (Ittersbach, Germany).

reply via email to

[Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread]