[rfc-i] [IAB Trac] #266: Requirement for "Clear Printing"
rja.lists at gmail.com
Fri Feb 15 07:00:15 PST 2013
A key feature of the current RFC publication process is
that a given RFC (or I-D) will have identical pagination
-- regardless of whether it is printed on A4 paper,
printed on US-Letter paper, or even viewed in a web browser
(i.e., browser showing text/plain format, rather than
a browser showing HTML format).
This means that when working with colleagues, one
can talk about some RFC (or I-D) and use the page
number as a reference/anchor point in our discussions.
Today, even folks working from an electronic copy
(if using the text/plain ".txt" format, rather than the
HTML format) also have that pagination visible to them.
It would be a nightmare to have a colleague refer
to (his/her) "page 4" and have that be "page 3" or
"page 5" on my own copy. That would be a huge waste
of a lot of folks' time, and seems easily avoidable.
While I'm sure that individual custom varies, nearly
all of the implementers that I know well normally work
from a printed copy. Similarly, many reviewers of I-Ds
and readers of RFCs find it more effective to work from
a printed copy.
Curiously, in my own (non-scientific) sample of people,
there is no "generational" aspect to this. This practice
of working from print when coding or designing an implementation
seems as common among folks who are 20-something as it is
with folks who are 40-something.
While I have no objection to making RFCs available
in other formats (e.g., HTML without pagination), I would
be greatly obliged if a print-oriented format with existing
fixed/predictable/consistent pagination and fixed/predictable
line-length remained available for those who wish to continue
to work from the decades-long text/plain (".txt") format.
The 2 current text/plain format rules cause printing
to work equally well with A4 and US-Letter paper sizes.
So one can work trans-Atlantic or trans-Pacific and all
be on the same page:
* 58 lines/page
* 72 characters (plus CR and LF)/line
So my requested action is that Section 3.3. be revised
to delete the "retirement" of the 58 lines/page and
72 characters (plus CR and LF)/line rules.
I'd be quite happy if these 2 rules were scoped to apply only
to the "text/plain" format of RFCs (and I-Ds), such that those
2 rules did NOT apply if one were generating an HTML format
or some other format. Of course, this implies continuing the
automatic generation of a print-oriented format (i.e., text/plain
with ".txt" filename extension) that DOES comply with those
This change to the RFC Format Requirements draft would retain
the critical uniformity of pagination in the existing widely used
printable format, while allowing flexibility in line-length and
pagination in other formats (e.g, HTML).
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