[rfc-i] Fwd: New Version Notification for draft-flanagan-plaintext-00.txt

Thomas Clausen ietf at thomasclausen.org
Fri Jun 27 09:01:45 PDT 2014

On Jun 27, 2014, at 13:31, Julian Reschke <julian.reschke at gmx.de> wrote:

> On 2014-06-27 12:29, Dearlove, Christopher (UK) wrote:
>> Now that's just deliberately insulting.
>> No one has suggested not being able to put things on an iPad.
>> However it also remains useful to put things reliably, and formatted at least to the point of not splitting things cross pages, on paper. Fanfold is just an transparent attempt to make an opinion not your own look archaic.
>> And this got raised because you may not want paper, but some of us do, and you at least now appear to be ready to steamroller those who disagree with you.
>> At the moment what appears to be on offer is
>> - Text, but freeflowing and not suitable (tables and figures will break).
>> - HTML, where some (but definitely not all) browsers might offer what you want, but at the least not guaranteed.
>> ...
> ...it would be awesome if we could have a discussion involving "might", but based on facts.
> Please try to print <http://greenbytes.de/tech/webdav/rfc7230.html> from your favorite browser and report back what you think is missing.

OK, I did just that, from my “favorite browser"

First up missing is “page numbers in the table of content”. 

Say what you want, but telling someone to “look at page 42” is a lot easier than saying “look at section paragraph 9”. 

This, since page numbers (in your print-out) are nicely in the bottom right (i.e. in a fixed place) and so easy to flip to.

Trying to find "section paragraph 9” means that (on paper) I’d have to scan the entire pages to see where that “anchor point” might be, since they can be everywhere — and possibly flip back and forth. A lot less ergonomic, a lot less user-friendly. 

Now, given that I often annotate documents on a tablet….PDF readers on a tablet do often have easy-to-access “go to page” functions, whereas the “find text” is either less well supported, or is less easily accessible — for example, I can “scroll” with my finger and have the tablet flip from page-to-page, whereas I am not quite sure that I have seen a way of doing “scrolling not pages but section numbers” which would require the reader actually parsing the text and determining what is a section number…..I guess that you’d suggest that “PDF readers should, then, be updated to be better at that” — that’s a little like saying “everybody should really start using IPv6”…..20 years hence….

So there’s that….

Then, the last thing on page 12…apologies, on the thing that is on the next line….sorry, "the next sequence of characters" after the last paragraph of section 2.6 (which, incidentally, appears two pages before what I want to point to), is a section heading, which stands alone with the section text coming on the next page. That’s poor pagination.

It’s also - in your “war against page numbers” poor document structure, to have a section spanning multiple pages — and a good example why sections are  not granular enough to be useful as references.

Same thing on page 13 — I am sorry, I mean….hang on, need to count….4th paragraph (if you do not count the artwork as a paragraph — 5th if you do) in section 2.7.1 actually splits a sentence across two pages. It’d have been a lot more reader-friendly had the pagbreak been made 3 lines above, before that paragraph. 

This sort of split-a-sentence-across-multiple-pages happens quite frequently in this document, so I am not going to point them all out. I would have, if I could have said “sentence split over multiple pages on page 3, 4, 15, 29 and 33”, though, since that would have been easy. Searching for section numbers and counting paragraphs is not. See argument above, that it is easy to identify page numbers (they are on a fixed place) and it’s easy to reference them.

Ah, getting to page 47, I am sorry, section 8.4.2, there’s a table. For some reason, that table does not have a table number, so fortunately there’s only one table in that section — least it’d be ambiguous. Well, in the printout, the table row “ X-gzip | Deprecated (alias for …) “ came out on top of a page, with the rest of that same table on the preceding page. Poor splitting in the output format.

The table in section 8.6.2 (which also ain’t got no number), in my printout I get the “header” on the bottom of the page, and the only table row on top of the next. Poor splitting in the output format.

So this document is a good illustration of:

	o	why the war-on-pagenumbers is unfortunate — in formats where you do not just have CTRL-F to find-and-scroll-to
		what you want, anchors in fixed positons (like page-numbers) are a huge help

	o	why section numbers is an insufficient granularity 

	o	why tables, figures, artwork, etc, at least need numbers also so as to be able to point
		precisely to what one is talking about

	o	that when outputting html to a paginated format, there is a risk of stuff that splits across 
		pages that really shouldn’t do that.

You asked for “report back” — that was mine.


> Best regards, Julian
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