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Re: Standardize roff (was: *roff `\~` support)

From: DJ Chase
Subject: Re: Standardize roff (was: *roff `\~` support)
Date: Sun, 14 Aug 2022 19:43:51 +0000

On Sun Aug 14, 2022 at 12:32 PM EDT, Alejandro Colomar wrote:
> On 8/14/22 16:49, DJ Chase wrote:
> > On Sun Aug 14, 2022 at 9:56 AM EDT, Ingo Schwarze wrote:
> >> You appear to massively overrate the importance end-users
> >> typically attribute to standardization.
> > 
> > That’s probably because *I* massively overrate the importance of
> > standardization (I mean I literally carry a standards binder with me).
> > Still, though, it’s rather annoying that end users — especially
> > programmers — don’t value standards as much.
> (Official) standardization isn't necessarily a good thing.  With C, it 
> was originally good, in the times of ISO C89.  Now, it's doing more 
> damage to the language and current implementations than any good (it's 
> still doing some good, but a lot of bad).
> [Snipped because I’m not going to quote the whole email — see previous
> message for argument]
> I think it's better to let natural selection to work out its way.  If a 
> feature is good, other implementations will pick it, and maybe even 
> improve it.  If a feature is not good (or it's not needed by other 
> systems), it will not be portable.

True; prescriptive standards can certainly make some things worse. As a
further example, ISO 8601 sucks. I mean, its core specification is
great, but there are so many different ways that are allowed that the
full standard is almost completely unparseable. It also uses a slash
between the start and end times of a period instead of something
sensible, like, I don’t know, an en-dash! Which means that periods can
be written with a slash (because that’s the standard) but also with an
en-dash (because that’s how ranges work in English), but also that one
can’t properly write a period in a file name or URI.

Still, though, I think descriptive standards can be net-positive. The
POSIX shell utilities comes to mind. Sure, they certainly have some
issues, but because it’s a trailing standard, implementers are free to
fix them.

Do you think that a descriptive/trailing standard could be beneficial
or would you still say that it could mostly hinder *roff

DJ Chase
They, Them, Theirs

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