[rfc-i] draft-rfc-image-files-03

Andrew Sullivan ajs at anvilwalrusden.com
Mon Apr 9 04:00:46 PDT 2012

On Sun, Apr 08, 2012 at 11:49:18PM +0200, Iljitsch van Beijnum wrote:
> Remember that we're not defining a general purpose file format that
> needs to support all the capabilities of current and future
> devices. What we need is a file format that allows us to express
> internet related standards in a clear and future-proof (and to some
> degree past-proof) way. 

That is partly true and partly not.

The "partly true" is that there's no need to support _all_
capabilities of any device.

The "partly false" is that it's not a general-purpose format.  There
is considerable generality in specific dimensions.  The current RFC
line-printer format is both the official archival format, and also the
working format for some people (and the basis for the working format
for just about everyone else).  It serves multiple purposes, which
means that nobody is satsfied.  For instance, for the purposes of
archival format, the fact that the text cannot be reflowed is a
feature, because it allows stable page references to the archival
format.  At the same time, for the purposes of day to day use on a
variety of devices, that the text cannot be reflowed is a problem,
because it is inconvenient in many output formats.

It seems to me that for the purposes of archives at least, SVG might
be better than some alternative because it has a strong chance of
being rendered correctly in a particular display format in the future.
This is mostly by accident: it's part of another archival format, and
therefore more likely to be supported.

To make progress on this question, though, we have to decide whether
we want the source format, or some particular rendering, to be the
archival format.  I will note that, by and large, today we do not use
the source format as the archival one (indeed, I can think of no



Andrew Sullivan
ajs at anvilwalrusden.com

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