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Re: [Psgml-devel] Re: Key sequence C-c C-f C-e uses invalid prefix chara

From: Robert J. Chassell
Subject: Re: [Psgml-devel] Re: Key sequence C-c C-f C-e uses invalid prefix characters
Date: Fri, 17 Jan 2003 12:42:54 +0000 (UTC)

   ... The OP's complaint was -- in effect -- that he couldn't care
   less whether the "SGML" he produced was valid or not ...

Here is a possible solution for XML:

  * If the person provides a DTD use that ....

  * If the person does *not* provide a DTD use the texinfo.dtd
    provided in the texinfo-4.3 distribution in makeinfo/texinfo.dtd

  * Provide and document a simple command to convert an XML document
    using the texinfo.dtd and the texinfo.xsl to Texinfo.  (I am
    pretty sure a suitable conversion program already exists, but it
    needs documentation and maybe packaging in a shell script that
    calls the appropriate ancillary files.)

`makeinfo' already provides the option to convert a Texinfo source
file to an XML output file with the texinfo.dtd using the --xml option 

There is a major advantage to making the texinfo.dtd the default; with
it, you can convert the source XML (or "deep representation") file to
all the various different output (or "surface representation") formats
that people use.

Here is the argument favoring Texinfo, or a Texinfo-like mark up
language, using DocBook as the prime villain, and LaTeX as a

DocBook is a widely used format that has a more complex DTD than
texinfo.dtd.  (Incidentally, `makeinfo' provides an option to convert
a Texinfo source to DocBook, but as said here, depending on how the
author writes the document, the reverse may be harder or impossible.)

  DocBook suffers two major problems, both fatal, neither technical:

     * DocBook documents are generally harder to read (both by novices
       and by experts) in their `deep representation' form, before
       being converted to formats to which readers listen or view.

       This means it is harder to edit the document.  Many people who
       use interfaces that hide the looks of the document do not
       perceive this as a problem because they write for that single
       interface or `surface representation'.  This leads us to the
       second, fatal problem:

     * Writers often use DocBook features.  Indeed, this is something
       you would expect and generally welcome!  The features were
       designed to be used!

       Unfortunately, DocBook was designed for people who are
       situationally sighted -- not blind, not driving a car, not
       working on something to which they must apply visual attention.
       In this sense, DocBook is like LaTeX.

       The problem, and this is the key, is that most people who write
       DocBook documents fail to write them for a wide range of

    People who write for Texinfo also often fail to consider their
    different kinds of readers, but Texinfo discourages `high res
    visual presumptions'.  

    Texinfo does a better job of ensuring that authors write documents
    that are readable and listenable by everyone than does the
    alternative, which for DocBook or LaTeX is to ask authors to
    describe their picture, an action which may take `a thousand
    words', in addition to displaying the picture for those who can
    view it.

    Technically, you can write a document using DocBook or LaTeX that
    converts well to widely different output representations, not just
    to one output representation.  The problem is, enough people

    Every time you write, please write for the following readers:

      * the blind person, whether permanently or situationally blind,
        who is listening to your work using Emacspeak

      * the person reading your document on a Web site, who has a fast
        Internet connection

      * the person reading your document on a Web site who has a slow
        Internet connection to your Web site and who is paying by the
        downloaded byte

      * the person reading your document efficiently, navigating
        around to parts quickly

      * the person reading your document on paper that has been
        printed by a high resolution printer

      * the person working on a slow machine or over a slow
        connection, who is reading your work, which is coming to him
        or her at less than 300 baud.  (And before those of you who
        are fortunate say that slowness is obsolete and never occurs
        nowadays, please note that that in my experience, slow
        connections still occur, even though most of the time, I have
        a 40kb/s telephone connection.)

    And, yes, as I was typing that last sentence, my Internet
    connection vanished, my dialer redialed and a voice said, "If you
    would like to make a call, please hang up and try again" ....
    Awkward connections occur everywhere.

    Robert J. Chassell                         Rattlesnake Enterprises
    http://www.rattlesnake.com                  GnuPG Key ID: 004B4AC8
    http://www.teak.cc                                     address@hidden

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