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Any interest in using HTML for locally-installed Texinfo documentation?

From: Gavin Smith
Subject: Any interest in using HTML for locally-installed Texinfo documentation?
Date: Mon, 1 Apr 2019 13:55:55 +0100

Dear Guix developers,

I hope I am not intruding by advertising a project that may be of
interest to you.

Documentation for GNU packages and others is often installed in the
Info format, a plain text format.  Using a plaintext based format for
documentation does not take advantage of bitmapped displays that have
been available for decades.  It does not allow styling of text or
reflowing of text.  Much information is lost in the conversion from
Texinfo to Info and any attempt in, for example, Emacs to re-add this
information is unreliable.

Nonetheless, Info viewers have continued to have advantages over web
browsers.  They are fast, and have features for searching the manual
with index lookup.  They allow the use of keyboard commands.

In attempt to bring some of the benefits of the Info viewers to HTML
documentation in web browsers, in 2017, as part of Google Summer of
Code, Matthieu Lirzin worked on a JavaScript interface that works with
the HTML that texi2any produces.  His work is substantially complete.
A manual with this interface added is at
All the important keyboard commands that work in the Info viewers are
implemented, including index lookup.

The code he produced is in the js/ subdirectory of the Texinfo git
repository, and also available at

I believe this work has great potential to increase the ease of
accessing documentation, including documentation locally installed on
a user's own computer.  When a user is using a bitmapped display (e.g.
with X11), this could become the default way that they access

I am contacting you because the distribution level may be the best
place to push this forward.  There are two reasons:
* The distribution could take care of installation of HTML
documentation files (at the moment, there is no standard place to
install these, and Automake does not support installing HTML files
generated from Texinfo).
* It could also take responsibility for checking web browser
compatibility.  Even if we don't use the JavaScript interface for
documentation on the GNU website due to browser compatibility
concerns, an OS distribution would have control over which browser was
used to view documentation.

Although I have little knowledge of Guix, it is the natural choice of
operating system distribution to contact about this possibility, as
both Texinfo and Guix are GNU projects.

If there is nobody who wants to take this forward within Guix, then
suggestions would also be welcome on how to otherwise push this

Best wishes,


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