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Re: Convert README.org to plain text README while installing package

From: Alan Mackenzie
Subject: Re: Convert README.org to plain text README while installing package
Date: Mon, 6 Jun 2022 11:33:14 +0000

Hello, Tim.

On Mon, Jun 06, 2022 at 10:19:38 +1000, Tim Cross wrote:

> Michael Albinus <michael.albinus@gmx.de> writes:

> > I have no problem if there are structured README.org or README.md
> > files in parallel. But a README file should be plain text.

I agree with this.

> I've seen this mentioned multiple times in this thread and it doesn't
> make sense to me. 

> Org files *are* plain text. This is one of (perhaps the biggest) selling
> points for org mode. They don't use any form of 'binary' data and can be
> read just fine in any text editor or just using cat/less/more whatever.

We're reduced to arguing about the meaning of "plain text".  The way I
see it, plain text means to be read as is by the user.  In that sense,
the formats you mention below, xml, html, etc. are _not_ plain text -
they're designed for machine processing.  A typical spam email in HTML
has the human readable pieces swamped by the machine readable pieces.  I
think you're arguing that this isn't the case with org mode files, though
Philip Kaludercic pointed out an org file where this wasn't the case.

> They may look a little *ugly*, especially with respect to URLs, but are
> still quite readable - a lot more readable than other plain text formats
> such as xml or html or json etc.

And their performance in standard programs like grep, wc, etc. is that
much worse than plain text.

> I also find arguments based around org being complex and difficult to
> learn to be somewhat overstated.

There are 784 key bindings in org mode.  How can you say that this isn't
complex and difficult to learn?

> Org is powerful and very configurable, ....

That contradicts your previous statement to some extent.  Any program
which is very configurable _needs_ to be configured.

> .... which means there can be a lot to learn if you want to leverage
> off all it has to offer.

I don't want to do this.  I want to avoid org mode being loaded into my
Emacs; it fouls up my key bindings to a significant extent.  Particularly
if I just want to read a 50 line README.

> However, like emacs, the basics are very simple and easy to learn. 

I don't agree that the basics of Emacs are simple and easy to learn at
all.  That's a strong reason why other editors have become popular.  Why
should I have to spend time learning a super-complicated mode just to
read a 50 line README?

> While I'm not arguing that org should be forced upon everyone ....

If a README file is README.org, then org mode is forced upon anybody
wishing to read it in Emacs.  This is why README files should be plain

> .... and I would agree we need to keep potential load time issues in
> mind, there seems to be lots in this thread over stating the issues and
> jumping to extremes.

I think org mode is an extreme, with its 784 key bindings which seem to
violate written and unwritten conventions.

> All that seems to really be under consideration is to enable rendering
> of *org files in help buffers using org font locking and perhaps
> enabling folding, which could be very beneficial for large readme files
> and would not matter for small ones. I also suspect this is something
> which could be disabled with a simple variable setting for those who
> really don't like it. 

"It" could best be avoided by having plain text README files.

Alan Mackenzie (Nuremberg, Germany).

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