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

Ted Lemon mellon at fugue.com
Thu Dec 6 12:58:02 PST 2012

On Dec 6, 2012, at 3:34 PM, Nico Williams <nico at cryptonector.com> wrote:
> 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
> worked.

You're still not getting my point.   Yes, fine, right now you can get TeX because Ubuntu does the work for you.   What happens when they stop doing the work for you?

> 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).

This is a false dichotomy.   I agree that xml2rfc in tcl is the wrong solution, but that doesn't mean that LyX is the right solution, or that nroff is the right solution (although nroff at least is pretty easy to build).   XML is easy to parse, and xml2rfc could easily be rewritten in python (or $LANGUAGE, for nearly every value of $LANGUAGE), because standard tools exist to parse it.

> We only typeset RFCs once too.

No, this is absolutely untrue.   Right now we have a tendency to re-format RFCs when we update them because the canonical form is useless for updating.   But this is a bug, not a feature.   IMHO the canonical form should be editable, which .txt files are not.   Otherwise this waste of effort will be perpetuated by whatever effort occurs as a result of this discussion.

Whatever canonical format we choose will be just as hard to get rid of as .txt, so whatever we choose will be with us for a very long time.

> 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.

Yes, the same can be said of Word.   Should we standardize on Word?

> 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.

Okay, fair enough.   My concern with this though is that if .lyx isn't the canonical form, then the canonical form will in some cases be  where the changes will be made.  And then we need a tool to get from the canonical form to .lyx losslessly, so that when a new version of the canonical form is generated from the .lyx, the changes will will not be complex.   Alternatively, if .lyx _is_ the canonical form, then it needs to be a good canonical form.

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