[rfc-i] diagram issues

Paul Kyzivat pkyzivat at alum.mit.edu
Thu Jun 26 07:25:55 PDT 2014


As an example of the point I am making, take a look at 
draft-ietf-avtext-rtp-grouping-taxonomy-01. This started out with a UML 
diagram - you can find it on the last page of:


There is no way that this diagram could be reproduced in ascii art in a 
draft. So the draft is mostly text. The diagram has been factored, and 
bits and pieces of that done as ascii art. Those parts are helpful, but 
the draft can't convey the big picture of how everything hangs together.

Also, because the diagram couldn't be easily included in the draft it 
has fallen out of use and ceased to be updated to track the draft. :-(


On 6/25/14 1:13 PM, Joe Touch wrote:
> On 6/25/2014 9:21 AM, Paul Kyzivat wrote:
>> On 6/25/14 11:48 AM, Joe Touch wrote:
> ...
>>> It is difficult to replicate a Van Gogh in ASCII art, but IMO diagrams
>>> that are too complex for one page of ASCII art are also probably not
>>> useful as protocol diagrams either.
>> I disagree. Lots of things are too complex to render in an ASCII art
>> diagram.The usual work-around is factoring - break a single diagram
>> into several smaller diagrams. This is sometimes a good thing. But other
>> times it simply makes the relationship between pieces harder to
>> understand.
> It would be useful to provide an example. The one's I've seen all
> benefit greatly from factorization, as did the corresponding discussion.
>> The idea that "a picture is worth a thousand words" depends upon the
>> picture having enough detail to represent a thousand words. IMO an ASCII
>> art picture is only worth a hundred words.
> Again, as I said before, the words ought to define the protocol. If you
> want to avoid a thousand words using a picture, IMO you've left out
> significant detail in the text.
>>> I fear that SVG will be an excuse for illegible diagrams.
>> Look at the ascii art diagrams in existing RFCs. Plenty of them are
>> pretty illegible, and would be more legible with SVG.
> Many would be more legible if re-drawn, even in ASCII.
>> If the SVG diagrams are illegible then that can be solved with better
>> reviews. When ASCII art diagrams are illegible because of limitations in
>> what can be done with ASCII artthen reviews are less likely to solve
>> the problem.
> I accept your conclusion, but your premise assumes that the reason for
> illegibility is the limitation of ASCII art. Again, an example would be
> useful.
>> IMO a more significant concern is that any sort of diagram (even ASCII
>> art) that is *generated* by a tool from some other original
>> representation is problematic if the original representation isn't
>> archived along with the document.
> Problematic from what point of view?
> I really fear this entire discussion is focused heavily on trying to
> preserve origin material to make updates easier to write, saving tens of
> hours of work for tens of people at the cost of days of work for
> hundreds of people.
> Joe

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