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

Nico Williams nico at cryptonector.com
Thu Dec 6 12:34:13 PST 2012

On Thu, Dec 6, 2012 at 2:12 PM, Ted Lemon <mellon at fugue.com> wrote:
> 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.

You made assertions; I saw no questions from you.  Look, I have had
the troubles you pointed out bringing LyX up from scratch on an old
system years ago where many dependencies were not packaged, so I know
where you're coming from.  But on Ubuntu it's been install a few pkgs
and off to the races -- my own past experience was irrelevant, it just

> 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.

That's true of xml2rfc too!  The Tcl version is... not exactly the
most maintainable software.  If you don't want any part of that
problem then let's go back to nroff (hmmm, no one really maintains
nroff anymore either, do they?) or just manual typesetting of text
(this will never break, though it's a waste of time and effort).

> 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.

We only typeset RFCs once too.  It's not like the science community is
done writing papers.  Yes, your opinions are sincere, but they come
across as just opinionated, uninformed.  I hang out on the LyX users
list and I see people using LyX for typesetting books, not just
papers, and many other things besides, and I suspect they are not all
gray-beards (admittedly I wouldn't really know) who can't move into
the 21st century, but rather people of all walks who find LyX pleasant
and to get the job done.

>> 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.

I was describing what lyx2rfc does.  I am asking whether typesetting
directly from LyX would address the problems we have.  And I know that
we could still export to XML and use that for programmatic processing
RFCs if it were necessary.

> 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.

You'd not edit .lyx with $EDITOR.  I get to represent the metadata I
need, and if we typeset directly we could use all the existing
facilities that LyX has for formatting that xml2rfc evidently lacks.
OTOH, if we just fix xml2rfc then I can adapt lyx2rfc and you can
happily ignore all this.  The point was that here's a tool that has
the fundamental functionality that we need and doesn't suck; perhaps
others will want to look at it dispassionately and see if it does fit
the bill.


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