[rfc-i] Should Figures be allowed to float?

Jim Schaad ietf at augustcellars.com
Fri Jan 10 11:10:19 PST 2014

Let me be clear, when I am talking about floating, I am not talking about
figures that got to the top or the bottom of a page.  The current move, for
better or worse, is to move away from paged formats so that is not something
that makes sense in the current context.  Instead I am talking about figures
which are not full width of the display page and can move up and down next
to and around text so that the display is both more dense and so that
pictures and text can appear alongside of each other and not stacked.

To do so does require that that the figure know where in the resulting
document that it needs to go, but that can be relatively easy to cover in a
number of ways.

A figure would be restricted to a paragraph, section or list by default
because that is what the containing element of the figure would be.  It
might be necessary to allow for a container object to be created that has
content but no display area to allow for a figure and an amount of text to
be associated together. But that can generally have some type of generic
association by distance.   That is a figure that is tagged "floating, right,
center" could be placed at its current location in the text, but be placed
on the left margin.  The preceeding and next t element would then be
centered on the figure with wrapping text if that is reasonable, and shoved
to the top and the bottom if the display area is too narrow.

I don't think that there is a huge amount of logic that needs to be created
to deal with this.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: rfc-interest-bounces at rfc-editor.org
[mailto:rfc-interest-bounces at rfc-
> editor.org] On Behalf Of Riccardo Bernardini
> Sent: Friday, January 10, 2014 12:03 AM
> To: RFC Interest
> Subject: Re: [rfc-i] Should Figures be allowed to float?
> On Fri, Jan 10, 2014 at 2:47 AM, Paul Hoffman <paul.hoffman at vpnc.org>
> wrote:
> > On Jan 9, 2014, at 12:57 PM, Jim Schaad <ietf at augustcellars.com> wrote:
> >
> >> The current layout rules are all based on the assumption that figures
> going to be placed in-line in the text and not allowed to float freely and
> allow for the text to flow around them in those cases where it makes
> I have been working on a document where there is a picture and a set of
> steps.  Allowing the step description to flow around the picture of the
> would probably improve the reading experience for this document.
> >
> > This seems like a minor improvement for a lot of UI pain. The "allow to
> float" attribute would need to say how far the figure would be able to
> getting the units right on that would be daunting, to say the least.
> I would suggest using the LaTeX approach that, in my experience, works
> pretty well (as long as one knows that the float will be moved around;
> mobility is a major surprise/annoyance for LaTeX beginners).
> LaTeX decides where to place floats (figures and tables, but also other
> "objects" like algorithms, ...) according to an algorithm similar to this
> *    The float is placed as soon as possible, compatibly with the
> following constraints.
> *    Floats are placed at the top or at the bottom of a page or on a
> page that contains only floats.
> *    A float cannot be placed before the point it is "declared"
> *    Fig. <n> cannot be placed before Fig. <m> if m < n
> *    The user can modify this behavior by using some options (e.g.,
> put only on top, only on bottom, put the float exactly here!)
> The actual algorithm is a bit more involved and it is described in the
> book.
> > Can you quantify "probably improve"?
> Although this question was directed to OP, let me add my 0.02 Euros.
> Clearly, it is difficult to quantify something like this, but I had few
> experiences with documents with non-floating figures and it can be quite
> annoying.  For example, it can happen that a figure is placed almost at
> bottom of the page with only one or two text lines after it.  When you
> at that page, you read the text before the figure, you do not notice the
> after it and move to the next page, just to find that there is a jump in
> sentence.  You go back, go forward again, check the page numbers and,
> finally, you discover the
> line after the figure.    If the document has many figures, this can
> be quite annoying.
> Honestly, I do not see any major drawbacks (from user's perspective) in
> having floats, especially if we provide an attribute to say "place it
here!" for
> those very very rare cases when it is needed (I write scientific papers
> with LaTeX since the 90s and I never used this option).
> I guess that handling floats will make the xml2rfc code a bit more
> but if you think that in LaTeX float handling is written using TeX...
> Riccardo
> >
> > --Paul Hoffman
> >
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