[rfc-i] format and interoperability (was: Resetting this format debate a bit)

Andrew Sullivan ajs at anvilwalrusden.com
Mon Mar 26 01:12:14 PDT 2012

On Sun, Mar 25, 2012 at 03:16:16PM -0700, Tim Bray wrote:
> On Sun, Mar 25, 2012 at 1:47 PM, Michael Richardson <mcr at sandelman.ca> wrote:

> > Why is this our problem?
> > Why isn't a bug in the MAC/Windows printing eco-system, that apparently
> > .txt files with ^L characters no longer work?
> We want implementors of Internet software to use our specifications,
> and it would seem like a good thing to remove barriers to this
> happening.

I agree.  Another way to put this is that, when the line-printer page
layout was adopted as a "format", there was an actual interoperability
reason for it: that's what printers did.  Printers grew up and the
printing environment came to be different.  And whole new ways of
representing entire page formats were invented to take care of the
problems that the line-printer page layout attempted to do in fairly
primitive ways.

We don't use line printers any more, and complaining that line-printer
format doesn't work any more is a little like complaining that your
latest copy of Word or LibreOffice or whatever doesn't do a good job
reading or producing output for WordStar or NotaBene 1 or whatever.
Line printer format was never an interoperable standard; it was if
anything a standard for line printers that used ASCII.



Andrew Sullivan
ajs at anvilwalrusden.com

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