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Re: RFC: Adding syntax highlighting to the official documentation

From: Aaron Hill
Subject: Re: RFC: Adding syntax highlighting to the official documentation
Date: Sat, 18 Dec 2021 22:46:54 -0800
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On 2021-12-18 8:18 pm, John Wheeler wrote:
The other concern is more a personal thing with me.  When I say
printed text, I was referring to pdf output. I will often print a pdf
file so I can better read it from paper.  When you mentioned adding
color to pdf files, you caught my attention.  I have seen too many
books that I personally have a very hard time using because either
someone has indiscriminately highlighted passages they thought
important or the book designer decided to use color in some way to
"guide" the reader. What other people must see as artful use of color
I find so distracting that I struggle to follow the text. [ . . . ]

To add to this, color schemes in general are very personal.

Thankfully, HTML documentation can leverage the power of CSS, so anyone who feels strongly enough can inject a custom stylesheet to get something that reads well. However, formats like PDF where the highlighting would be baked-in would not be able to adapt to individual preference. I would argue such targets should stick to black and white, only using color where relevant to a snippet.

As an alternative to color, perhaps the syntax highlighting could focus only on varying font weight, style, etc. This would be more in keeping with, say, Knuth's approach he presented as part of literate programming. One of the things he found was that proportional fonts often read better than monospace in print. We would not have to follow suit so precisely, but I'm sure there are lessons learned back then that could help today.

-- Aaron Hill

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