[rfc-i] Internet Draft Format

"Martin J. Dürst" duerst at it.aoyama.ac.jp
Sun Mar 25 23:29:23 PDT 2012

Hello Tim, others,

On 2012/03/25 3:01, Tim Bray wrote:
> What’s wrong with the current HTML output?  Looks OK to me on a
> variety of screens and prints just fine.

I think Fred has said similar things. But I tend to disagree, for both 
the XML input and the HTML output of xml2rfc.

I see them as a pretty usable first approximation, and definitely a good 
job for Marshal Rose who created them without too much XML, HTML, or 
styling experience to start with. But there's tons of room for 
improvement. And it would really pay out if we used that room and made 
some of these improvements.

I agree that a consensus-driven WG process isn't the right thing for 
this. But input from a wide range of people, and the help of somebody 
with a good feel for unobtrusive style should go a long way.

This may be way too early in the process, but just to show what I mean, 
here are a few points that in my opinion are worth improving (many of 
them already mentioned):

XML format:

- The use of attributes for author names and titles -> use elements
- The arcane table format (there are some XML editors that may come 
close to WYSIWYG, although not close enough for some of us, and these 
all know how to deal with table models similar to the HTML table model, 
but they fail for the current xml2rfc table model)
- Inline (formatting) distinctions: When reading ASCII plaintext, you 
know you can't have these, but for HTML, being able to mark up (and 
style) inline examples, references to ABNF rules,... can be very helpful.

HTML (actually CSS) styling:

- The red color is not an IETF color, and is overused and in your face. 
It detracts from the content of the document too much.

- The header can definitely be improved. No need for the gray 
background, no point in using just the two first thirds of the page 
width, no need for white lines after every line.

- TOC doesn't need to be all bold.

- Repeated TOC link doesn't need to be outdented to the right that much.

- Autdenting of Section titles to the right also may need 
reconsideration. They are bold enough to stick out, and can quickly be 
reached via TOC.

- Text in artwork is quite a bit smaller than text in paragraphs.

- Not sure the horizontal lines between sections and subsections are 
helpful. Definitely a bad idea between a section title and the first 
subsection if there's no intervening text.

- Reference section with way smaller font than main text. Contrary to 
some literary text, this is a frequently used section for standards.

Regards,    Martin.

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