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[debbugs-tracker] bug#15287: closed (Diary format is Fuzzily defined.)

From: GNU bug Tracking System
Subject: [debbugs-tracker] bug#15287: closed (Diary format is Fuzzily defined.)
Date: Fri, 15 Nov 2013 04:57:03 +0000

Your message dated Fri, 15 Nov 2013 10:26:15 +0530
with message-id <address@hidden>
and subject line Re: bug#15287: Diary format is Fuzzily defined.
has caused the debbugs.gnu.org bug report #15287,
regarding Diary format is Fuzzily defined.
to be marked as done.

(If you believe you have received this mail in error, please contact

15287: http://debbugs.gnu.org/cgi/bugreport.cgi?bug=15287
GNU Bug Tracking System
Contact address@hidden with problems
--- Begin Message --- Subject: Diary format is Fuzzily defined. Date: Fri, 06 Sep 2013 15:34:24 +0530 User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/24.3.50 (gnu/linux)
Executive summary:

Diary helps you to intermix personal journal/notes with appointments
right in the *same* entry.  This nuance - which I can put to good use -
is not clarified in the Info manual.  (What a pity!)

It is difficult to explain over email.  So I will give an example and
ask some questions.  I will appreciate some insights from long-time
Diary users.


Consider this a request for a bug fix, an articulation of a use-case, an
adjunct to the manual or even ramblings of a deluded man.

Diary format is Fuzzy?

Diary format is Fuzzily defined.  By fuzzily, I mean there are some
loose edges.

I have consulted the documentation below:

  1. C-h v diary-file 
  2. (info "(emacs) Format of Diary File")

       Lines that do not begin with valid dates and do not continue a
       preceding entry are ignored.

It is difficult to explain over mail.  Here I give 

  - A statement of the problem

  - An example file and followup questions to clarify the purpose of
    this report.

  - Some possibilities that it opens up.

Problems articulated:

Broadly, I see two problems.

1. The term "entry" is fuzzily defined.  For example, what is the scope
   of an entry. i.e., where does it begin where does it end.

2. Diary docstrings suggests that format is "line-oriented".  In fact,
   it looks like it is not line-oriented, but is separated in to active
   and inactive portions.  An active part (the one that is shown in
   Fancy diary display) and an inactive part which is skipped over.

(2) above can be put to good use.  

For example, by introducing an empty-line in-and-of itself and thereby
"breaking" an active region, I should be able to keep a personal journal
or technical notes right in the diary file and have it never contribute
to the agenda.


jambu.diary: An example diary file. 

Put the above file in whitespace-mode so that you can visualize the
newlines and spaces.  Pay particular attention to lines that "look"
empty but actually has SPCs in them.  This is IMPORTANT.

Q: How many entries that  the diary has?
A: 3, as I see it.  The canonical diary format doesn't make it clear how
   many entries in fact there are.

Q: To what entries items (c) and (d) belong.  Likewise for (f), (g) and
A: Common sense says they "stick" to the immediate preceding paragraph
   introduced by a date.  They are inactive fragments - meaning they
   don't contribute to agenda.

IMHO, the diary format doesn't help to answer these questions.  I
believe it will be helpful to explicitly clarify the philosophical
motivation for the diary format (and for use-cases that it serves)


1. The TODO mode builds upon the base diary format in 3 levels.  

   It introducea categories (which are sub-diaries or sections) and
   todo/done states (which are but sections within a sub-diary i.e.,

2. Defining what an entry is clarifying and differentiating or not
   differentiating between active and inactive portions can help with
   primitive operations like:

   - Marking an entry.
   - Marking an active portion.
   - Moving up or down of an entry
   - Copying an entry to another file (either for re-filing, archiving

For example, here is a screenshot which highlights the "active part" of
an entry using `hl-line-mode' and a custom `hl-line-range-function'.  I
will not post a snippet because it was explicitly insisted by the list

Attachment: intermix-diary-and-journal.png
Description: PNG image



Attachment: jambu.diary
Description: Binary data

Here is the fancy diary display for the above file.

--8<---------------cut here---------------start------------->8---
Friday, September 6, 2013
    a) This paragraph starts on column 4.  This paragraph is preceded
    by an empty line with just 4 SPCs.
    b) This paragraph starts on column 4.  This paragraph is also
    preceded by an empty line just 4 SPCs.

Saturday, September 7, 2013
Another diary entry
    e) This paragraph starts on column 4.  This paragraph is preceded
    by an empty line with just 4 SPCs.

Monday, September 9, 2013
Another date entry
--8<---------------cut here---------------end--------------->8---

--- End Message ---
--- Begin Message --- Subject: Re: bug#15287: Diary format is Fuzzily defined. Date: Fri, 15 Nov 2013 10:26:15 +0530 User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/24.3.50 (gnu/linux)
OP here.  Closed.

--- End Message ---

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