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Re: Saving markup formats

From: Oliver Scholz
Subject: Re: Saving markup formats
Date: Wed, 20 Jun 2007 12:05:30 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/22.1 (gnu/linux)

David Kastrup <address@hidden> writes:

> Oliver Scholz <address@hidden> writes:
>> Richard Stallman <address@hidden> writes:
>>>     This is a very bad thing; a _reliable_ word
>>>     processor---as opposed to an unreliable hack---shouldn't make any
>>>     changes to the logical structure of a document unless explicitly
>>>     ordered to do it.
>>> I reject that position (as well as the gratuitous insult tacked onto
>>> it)
>> It was not meant as an insult; by "unreliable hack" I was refering to
>> my own first implementation. Of course, I was also referring to a
>> general implementation strategy, still "insult" seems a bit strong.
>> I'll try to refrain from further discussing this issue. I have to
>> admit that from memory I can't think of any case where the approach
>> you describe would fail with RTF---at least with the help of markup
>> text in a buffer. My personal opinions are of no concern here.
> I find myself agreeing with you here: documents should preserve
> structure.  Word has so-called "style sheets" as a structuring method,
> and it means that you can change the layout of a document consistently
> by changing the style sheet.  Ignoring the structure of the RTF and
> saving something visually equivalent is breaking the document.  While
> it does not much harm to the documents of _naive_ Word users, it would
> be horrible to load a complex file, change a few words, and have it
> saved basically as a seemingly same-looking but unmaintainable mess.

Yes, exactly. Another thing is that RTF is used as document exchange
format: for instance, people send the exposé for their PhD thesis to
friends and teachers and get it sent back with changes. If you did
once take part in such a process, you may have noticed the
inconsistent formatting (paragraphs or even sentences with different
font hight and the like) in such documents? This often comes from one
of the involved programmes having its own ideas about stylesheets and
document structure, thus introducing slight chances at some spots when
saving. The last step in such an editorial process is always fixing
the formatting.

Technically, though, you can preserve the nested structure in such
cases by using a special markup text. This is also true for features
like---just from the top of my head--- "track changes (revision
marks)", i.e. changes made in a special mode for editorial revisions
(I forgot the English name, the German name is "Änderungsmodus"). This
feature is very popular among certain users in any collaborative
editing process. Those "revision marks" can, and probably will be
nested, if more than one editor other than the original author is
involved. But again, you can---technically---address this by means of
markup text in the buffer.

What I, personally, think about this UI-wise doesn't really matter.
Though, matters of taste aside, it will be an interesting task to make
this UI secure against inadvertent and unnoticed changes by the user
to the document structure (for instance by yanking text at the wrong
spot) that could cause trouble. And by "trouble" I mean things like:
the formatting of a 200p. master thesis going south half an hour
before the final dead line.

Sorry. I should really shut up now. I don't see the paradagm shift
coming that I deem necessary.

2 Messidor an 215 de la Révolution
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