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Re: [Fsfe-uk] Administrivia: html duplicates

From: Andrew Savory
Subject: Re: [Fsfe-uk] Administrivia: html duplicates
Date: Mon, 28 Jan 2008 09:02:17 +0100


On 1/28/08, MJ Ray <address@hidden> wrote:

> So far as I've seen, HTML editors are still much harder to use than
> text editors, either needing one to write first and markup later or
> jump to-and-fro from keyboard to mouse.  What's the state of the free
> software art here?

Harder to use for whom?
Granted it's a problem because this list addresses a very specific
audience (terminal-based Luddites?), but for general computer users I
suspect "click the B button" makes more sense than *bold*. They can
learn one set of conventions (marking up text using clicky buttons)
and apply them in email, spreadsheet, wordprocessor, etc etc.

The state of the art is probably HTMLAreas such as Xinha, which offer
a rich experience and IIRC keyboard shortcuts.

> Also, I'm not convinced by someone else's argument which seemed to be
> roughly that several non-free-software MUAs (Outlook, Thunderbird (OK,
> so there's IceDove), MSN, Googlemail, Yahoo) send HTML by default.
> Their operators should fix that configuration error IMO.

One person's configuration error is another person's "defaulting to
the majority opinion".

> It's not blocking html "just on the basis of it being HTML".  It's
> blocking it on the basis of it wasting much space, bandwidth and CPU
> on several machines (it seems lists.gnu was upgraded last year, but I
> wonder how long before it gets stressed again); and all the html-ready
> MUAs can read text, but not necessarily the other way round.

I thought the space/bandwidth/CPU arguments were overwhelmed by
Moore's Law years ago :-(

I'm not quite sure how to respond to the "my super-l33t FS MUA can't
read your decade-old complies-to-rfc html email" argument :-)

> I wish free software were innovating in this area, but it seems like
> keyboard-based editing is not slick, and the main innovations have
> been finding ways to filter/reduce html mail into plain text.

Perhaps one reason innovation has been inhibited is precisely because
mailing lists where FS folk hang out are rigorously enforcing policies
that just about made sense in 1998 but not in 2008?

> So far it looks like there is no consensus for change.

Looks around 50/50 to me (though I wasn't clear on Noah's or Jon's
viewpoint). I hope in the presence of a tie the moderator votes in
favour of progress :-)


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