[rfc-i] Graceful degradation is key, was: Re: draft-hildebrand-html-rfc

Julian Reschke julian.reschke at gmx.de
Wed Jul 18 12:54:20 PDT 2012

On 2012-07-18 21:47, Martin Rex wrote:
> Julian Reschke wrote:
>> Martin Rex wrote:
>>> Could we please stop the pointless parts of this discussion?
>>> Try to get down to requirement that are *INDEPENDENT* from xml2rfc
>>> does or could do.  xml2rfc contains lots of meta-data, and can be
>>> extended to carry even more meta-data.
>>> What meta-data is necessary to create a HTML-page that floats
>>> is an entirely distinct question.  The requirements for a
>>> submission format must be modeled on the minimum meta-information
>>> that is necessary to create the desired output formats.
>>> ...
>> ...and other information needed in the IETF publication process. That
>> includes programmatic extraction of author names, email addresses, and
>> abstract (submission tool!).
> That is such a total non-problem.  There already are several thousand
> documents, and there are perfectly operational algorithms (that are far
> from rocket scient) to extract this information from the existing documents,
> and it would be trivial and perfectly reasonable to use formatting
> rules for future documents that ensure these existing algorithms will
> continue to work.

Except that they sometimes fail.

> It should be easy for a human to "extract" this information from
> a 72colx56lines printout of the document, so it will be trivial
> for software to do this.

Except when it does not. Just recently we saw a case where a company 
name was mistaken as author name.

>>> Similar for the graphics bikeshedding.  Any graphics must be optional.
>>> So if another document author takes over a document (I-D or RFC), but
>>> doesn't have support for some graphics format in his authoring tools,
>>> he should be OK to leave out the graphics from his revisions of the
>>> document.  But that only works if the original document is complete
>>> without the graphics in the first place.
>> Following that argument we should also forbid esoteric source formats
>> that make it hard to take over the *text* content of a given document.
> You're trying to mount the bridle on the wrong end of the horse.
> The meta-information that is obvious and clearly recognizable from
> one of the "simple" output formats is all that ought to matter
> (to readers and other authors).
> This is why maintaining the 72col/56ln output format is so important.
> Besides being readable in pretty much all computing environments in
> existence, tools like rfcmarkup, rfcdiff and NroffEdit reauthoring
> feed on it. It is the only format that is guaranteed to be available
> for all existing documents.

"We can't change the format because then we would change the format".

Doesn't compute.

Best regards, Julian

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