[rfc-i] diagram issues

George, Wes wesley.george at twcable.com
Wed Jun 25 11:56:56 PDT 2014


On 6/25/14, 1:13 PM, "Joe Touch" <touch at isi.edu> wrote:


>>> I fear that SVG will be an excuse for illegible diagrams.

WG] If we shouldn't use SVG because you're afraid that people will Do It
Wrong, we should just call it quits and let IETF finish aging out of
relevance in peace. This is an example of IETF's graybeard insider culture
problem at its worst. Not only do we fear/strenuously resist change, we
use our resistance to change as an excuse to ignore major problems with
our tooling and process that make it harder for people to participate. I
could sum up a large portion of this thread as: "It works for me, so
obviously there's no problem here, and you're not allowed to change it,
because then it would force me to change my workflow or my pet tool, which
is far more important than making it easier for other people or availing
ourselves of better technology." We are quick to explain away our weird
formatting and tooling as just one of the quirks of working within the
IETF that everyone just deals with, or worse, it's some sort of alpha-geek
gatekeeper machismo, where if you can't manage to make your point in our
format using our arcane tools, you're not ready to sit at the adults'
table yet. For a technology standards organization, we have an awful lot
of people who seem to have an irrational fear of new technology.

>> If the SVG diagrams are illegible then that can be solved with better
>> reviews. When ASCII art diagrams are illegible because of limitations in
>> what can be done with ASCII art then reviews are less likely to solve
>> the problem.
>
>I accept your conclusion, but your premise assumes that the reason for
>illegibility is the limitation of ASCII art. Again, an example would be
>useful.
WG] conversely, your premise assumes that we even *need* to deal with the
limitations of ASCII art. This is a question of the right tool for the
job. I believe that the burden of proof here isn't "why ASCII isn't
enough" but rather "why we should still be limited to ASCII in 2014". I
still haven't heard any legitimate technical justification for that. And I
don't think that an example will be useful, because the legibility of a
diagram rendered in ASCII vs SVG is often subjective, and so there's not
much point in trying to debate it. Those biased in favor of ASCII art will
simply reject the other person's opinion that a given diagram is less
legible because it's done in ASCII, while those of us who haven't been
looking at them since the distant past when that was all that was
available will continue to tell you that we don't find them particularly
legible, *ever*. As I've said, ASCII art is almost always a representation
of a drawing, one that started in someone's head and got translated to
ASCII either directly or from a drawing produced in another tool, both
with significant loss of fidelity. There is no justification that I have
heard for not using the original drawing, but using real drawings can
easily be justified as a way to make IETF's output more approachable for
non-IETFers, as well as making IETF's document production easier for us
mere mortals who'd like to participate.


>
>> IMO a more significant concern is that any sort of diagram (even ASCII
>> art) that is *generated* by a tool from some other original
>> representation is problematic if the original representation isn't
>> archived along with the document.
>
>Problematic from what point of view?
>
>I really fear this entire discussion is focused heavily on trying to
>preserve origin material to make updates easier to write, saving tens of
>hours of work for tens of people at the cost of days of work for
>hundreds of people.
WG] Funny, because I could say the same thing about forcing the use of
ASCII art saving little work for a small number of people, while causing
significant additional work for a large number.

I'm assuming that this comment is directed at the idea of using a tool to
take an original graphic from the canonical version and translating it to
ASCII art for the text version, and I agree that this isn't a good
solution unless we actually have a real, specific use case that still
requires solely text.
But either way, I'm not following you on where the days of work for
hundreds of people is coming from.
And am I understanding you properly that you think that making writing and
updating drafts easier is not a goal?

Wes George

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