[rfc-i] draft-iab-rfcformatreq-01: fixed-width != ASCII

George, Wes wesley.george at twcable.com
Wed Jan 23 08:07:21 PST 2013

> From: rfc-interest-bounces at rfc-editor.org [mailto:rfc-interest-
> bounces at rfc-editor.org] On Behalf Of Paul Hoffman
> >
> > Yes, but it's a de facto requirement (as Nico says, strongly implied
> > by the use of ASCII art).
> No, it is not. It is a requirement *for ASCII art only*. In a display
> format that supports multiple fonts, monospace is only needed there (and
> maybe for headings that are centered in renderers that are width-
> dependent).
> > I think it's a de facto requirement and I'm pretty sure we're
> > proposing to drop it.
> Some of us have proposed to drop it where it is not needed.
[WEG] +1
This is why the use of metadata is so important in the canonical format - so that specific areas of text can be identified as requiring a monospace font for proper display without locking us into its use for the entire document/series. If we wanted to go further, we could add explicit guidance that devices/derivative formats incapable of rendering multiple fonts in the same document (if exist) MUST render the documents completely in monospace font if any part of the document requires monospace. Otherwise it really shouldn't matter to us.

Though I will also note that the creation of manual layout using monospace fonts for things like ASCII art also requires the definition of a maximum (or minimum supported) line width, which is being removed from the requirements. I support removal of that requirement for the *entire document*, because there is no line width limit on reflowable text, but there is probably some need in the updated style guide for guidance on line widths for items tagged in metadata as requiring a monospace font for layout reasons.
Here's an example of a common use case that we've been talking about needing to support: Based on a quick search, a Kindle can display about 45 characters of monospace text per line. Do we then assume that as our width limit? But wait, that's only on the smallest font size...
I think the reality is that ASCII art will not display properly on all devices and is therefore not an acceptable lowest common denominator choice anymore. This is leading me to conclude that supporting vector graphics first (which can be scaled for screens large and small) and ASCII as a fallback makes more sense.

Wes George

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