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

From: G. Branden Robinson
Subject: Re: Standardize roff (was: *roff `\~` support)
Date: Sun, 14 Aug 2022 17:35:29 -0500

At 2022-08-14T14:49:10+0000, DJ Chase wrote:
> On Sun Aug 14, 2022 at 9:56 AM EDT, Ingo Schwarze wrote:
> > DJ Chase wrote on Sat, Aug 13, 2022 at 05:27:34PM +0000:
> >
> > > Have we ever considered a de jure *roff standard?
> >
> > No, i think that would be pure madness given the amount of working
> > time available in any of the roff projects.

Mark your calendars--Ingo and I are in substantial agreement.  ;-)

> This is very sad to hear.

I think the take-away here is that the decision to formally standardize
a technology, like many things, is an economic one.  There are costs and
benefits.  Being seduced by the benefits without a full understanding of
the costs often leads to remorse.  (And, in many domains, fat
commissions for sales personnel.)

> 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.

I think it is less that programmers value standards in the wrong amount,
than that they disregard them for the wrong reasons--like "moving fast"
and building fragile solutions that will cost more on the back end after
higher-paid decision makers have moved on to greener pastures.

Nothing succeeds like handing your successor a trash fire.

> Would an informal de jure standard

You just defined "de facto standard".  ;-)

"De jure" is Latin for "of the law".  If something is not codified in
"law", or a normative document like a formal standard, then what is
"standard" is simply the intersection of prevailing practices.

> be of any use? Like how TOML just has a specification, but it’s
> somewhat usable as a standard because it’s been pretty stable and
> because it’s written clearly enough.

A purely descriptive document, mainly comprising a matrix of features
with escape sequence, request, and predefined register names on one axis
and the names of implementations on the other, with version numbers and
commentary populating the elements, could be a useful thing to have.


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