[rfc-i] Does the canonical RFC format need to be "readable" by developers and others?

Paul Hoffman paul.hoffman at vpnc.org
Sat Jul 7 11:02:36 PDT 2012

On Jul 7, 2012, at 10:34 AM, Joe Hildebrand (jhildebr) wrote:

> On 7/7/12 9:19 AM, "Paul Hoffman" <paul.hoffman at vpnc.org> wrote:
>> However, no one here is proposing that the canonical format for RFCs use
>> just "the basics of HTML". All of the proposals so far have included at
>> least two significant features that only regular HTML users and experts
>> would consider "basic": attributes and the mandatory closing of tags.
>> Probably more than 90% of HTML users in the IETF do not normally use
>> attributes, and would have to be taught the rules for them, particularly
>> quoting rules. Probably only half of HTML users in the IETF know that you
>> really should close all your tags.
> Could you add a little more clarity of what you're thinking when you say
> "attributes"?  I'd say that lots of folks that use HTML include images and
> hyperlinks, for example.  

Good catch. I was thinking about optional attributes that contribute metadata that might be used, for example, to reference an author name, section name, and so on.

> Nor would I classify attributes as
> understansibility='difficult'.  

Nor did I say they were.

> Regardless, XML2RFC uses attributes also,
> so it's kind of a moot point, unless you meant something I'm not
> understanding.

The mootness is exactly my point: if we are going beyond "basic" HTML to HTML that has a lot of attributes beyond what "basic" HTML users are familiar with, and to HTML that requires closing tags, then the result is approximately as difficult as XML.

>> I propose that once you bring in those critical features, editing XML and
>> HTML become much more similar.
> I agree that once you require closing and proper nesting of elements, XML
> and HTML are more similar in terms of their difficulty of generating their
> syntax. However, if your malformed HTML is close enough to get a browser
> to render it correctly, it's also close enough for TagSoup (e.g.
> http://ccil.org/~cowan/XML/tagsoup/) to fix it up.

Yep. If we go with XML instead of HTML, I would hope that there is a similar fixing-up tool for the XML.

--Paul Hoffman

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