[rfc-i] In the vein of LaTeX, but better and live: LyX

Ted Lemon mellon at fugue.com
Thu Dec 6 12:12:14 PST 2012

On Dec 6, 2012, at 2:54 PM, Nico Williams <nico at cryptonector.com> wrote:
> Is there any reason to expect that users would have to assemble the software themselves??  I don't think so, and you've not given any -- you merely knee-jerk.

Please don't accuse me of knee-jerk reactions—I'm asking sincere questions and offering sincere opinions, which by definition can't always be right because I have incomplete information.   So if my response seems to be based on incorrect information, all you have to do is provide me with the information.

The reason I am concerned with the work involved in getting the software working is that if you have a canonical format, but it's difficult to understand and the software is difficult to get working, then the software will continue to work just fine until the last person considers it worthwhile to keep it running, and at that point it will fall to the IETF to keep it running.

I've seen this sort of end-game before, and I think it's a likely outcome of any choice that relies on TeX.   The reason I think this is that although LaTeX is still fairly popular, it's actually a gross underuse of the capabilities of TeX, and it's generally used for typesetting papers, which you only do once, so the existing LaTex community could easily be completely gone in 20 years—people are using it because it's what they know, and it's convenient, not because there are no better alternatives.

> When used with lyx2rfc there's really no TeX in the picture.  Try it instead of jumping to conclusions.  Typesetting I-Ds/RFCs directly would involve LaTeX, yes, or most likely anyways, but when I typeset things with LyX it all just works anyways.

Okay, so we don't need TeX unless we want typeset docs.   This doesn't make me much happier, since I think it's important to be able to typeset docs, but I do see your point.   Certainly we could use some different typesetter, just as lyx2rfc apparently uses xml2rfc.

But now we're talking about using the .lyx file as the canonical format, aren't we?   What's the advantage of this format over xml?   It looks like a sort of verbose nroff with nesting structured tags, so it seems to be better than nroff, but not as good as xml.

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