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Re: Changes to Texinfo DTD

From: Robert J. Chassell
Subject: Re: Changes to Texinfo DTD
Date: Thu, 4 Dec 2003 13:49:08 +0000 (UTC)

Luc Teirlinck <address@hidden> writes

   1. The Info format is "here to stay".  It is intended for readers with
      minimal capabilities and it is important that people can access
      documentation via these readers.

Yes.  That is true, but understates Info capabilities:  Info is also,
at the moment, the single most efficient online help mechanism in
existance -- and has been for a generation.  Nic and my goal is to
improve HTML (via XML) to be as efficient or nearly as efficient as
Info was in the 1980s.

(Incidentally, Nic, I still cannot send messages to you via either
address@hidden or address@hidden  Please
suggest some other address.)

   2. Emacs is not a reader with minimal capabilities.  It could use XML
      to make Emacs info look as pretty as it can be, without paying a
      price in terms of functionality.

This is mixing the Info renderer with an XML renderer.  It makes more
sense to have them separate.  (It helps keep purposes clearer by
separating the notion of an `info' mechanism for rendering documents,
on line from the `info' format.)  Later, if people want to mix the
two, someone could write a wrapper so that the reader detects whether
the document is in XML format rather than Info format, and, if so,
switches to the XML renderer, or whether it is man page format and, if
so, switches to the man page renderer.

   5. Emacs will still need to be able to handle .info files, if no
      XML file is available, ...

Yes: we currently produce Info, XML, HTML, plain text, and DVI files
directly from the Texinfo files and indirectly PS and PDF and maybe
others.  Info needs to be kept.  Unfortunately, the HTML output does
not equal Info in efficiency.  As I said, Nic and my goal is to
improve it via XML.

(In this case rather than think of the XML output as a `surface
expression' of the Texinfo `deep representation', the XML serves as an
`intermediate representation'.  But clearly, if Emacs gains an XML
renderer, then the XML output from Texinfo acts a surface expression.)

(It is rather interesting to consider the historic transformation of
Emacs from an environment that displayed nearly everything `literally'
to one in which some buffer displays are not literal, but are surface
expressions of a different deep representation.  Nowadays, we even
have a `find-file-literally' command that was not necessary
initially.  But this is off-topic.)

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

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