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Re: On being web-friendly and why info must die

From: Richard Stallman
Subject: Re: On being web-friendly and why info must die
Date: Sun, 07 Dec 2014 04:20:07 -0500

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Unfortunately, I don't remember the conclusions of our previous
discussion of replacing Info format.  Maybe someone can look for
it in the archives.

  > In sum, switching to a Web browser as the means to read documentation
  > is a regression.

I agree completely.

Using HTML instead of Info format would be a big improvement, since
HTML is more flexible and can represent a wider range of contents.

However, unless we have an HTML-based Info reader with the same handy
features that the current Info reader has (for instance, the commands
n, p, u, m, i, SPC, search through multiple nodes), it would also be a
big step backward.

Last time I tried browsing HTML generated from Texinfo, it was
inconvenient compared with Info.  It corresponded to the contents of
the Texinfo file, but its navigation was not like Info.

To get the benefit of HTML and avoid the loss, we need

* A good way to represent a manual's info nodes in HTML, including all
their structure such that it can be extracted mechanically.  I suppose
this is not very hard, if you know HTML better than I do, and maybe it
has been done already.  Has it been?

* An HTML-based Info reader (can be done in Emacs) which implements
these commands as well as the usual HTML browsing features.  (Of
course, these commands won't be available to someone using an ordinary
browser to look at the same HTML files, but that is out of our hands.)

You could think of this as a special-purpose browser for web pages
of documenation.

If we succeed in recreating the features of Info in HTML, we would
have no reason to keep using the Info format.  Then we could use other
source formats (which can't generate Info).

Not all GNU packages would have to switch, but individual projects
COULD switch.

Do people want to work on this project for HTML?

Dr Richard Stallman
President, Free Software Foundation
51 Franklin St
Boston MA 02110
www.fsf.org  www.gnu.org
Skype: No way! That's nonfree (freedom-denying) software.
  Use Ekiga or an ordinary phone call.

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