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Re: [Groff] Hygienic mode design

From: Doug McIlroy
Subject: Re: [Groff] Hygienic mode design
Date: Wed, 05 Mar 2014 14:55:18 -0500
User-agent: Heirloom mailx 12.5 7/5/10

Before jumping headfirst into .hygiene, it would be well to
consider independent style advisors along the lines of Lint or HTML
validators. These have the advantage of not complicating the basic
production software. By contrast, .hygiene is more like -W in
gcc--a thicket of options that can be used wisely or unwisely. The
idea that each document should be its own judge of style may be an
invitation to Babel.
The notorious nonportability of real-life HTML reflects the fact
that little of it has been validated. This might be taken as an
argument against a separate style advisor, but I doubt that's much
worse than the difficulties inherent in self-policing. People who
really care about safe and consistent style will not find it a
burden to include a pass through a validator in their make recipes.

Another possible objection to a free-standing style advisor is that
it must duplicate some parsing and data resources that are already
in groff. This isn't necessarily bad. The exercise of making an
advisor could well uncover some unintended or ill-described
behaviors and spur improvements to groff and its documentation.


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