[rfc-i] What the text version is used for (was Re: The <tt> train wreck)

Brian E Carpenter brian.e.carpenter at gmail.com
Sat Aug 21 14:33:45 PDT 2021

On 22-Aug-21 05:55, Robert Sparks wrote:


> I note that your choice of words "what the TXT version is needed for" 
> frames things differently than "what the TXT version is used for". The 
> difference will make the conversation less one of defending the format 
> and more of exposing what's people actually need from it.

This. We should also remember why we wanted all this change. In
summary, we wanted a rendered format more suitable for current usage
than fixed width plain text with fixed white space and hard returns
and page feeds, which was great for Diabolo printers.

If the only thing we'd wanted to change was "plain", we'd almost
certainly have picked PDF/A as the primary rendered format, which
allows fancy text and diagrams, and scaleability. But we also wanted
reflowable text, so we picked HTML as the primary rendered format.
(XML as the canonical format was a by-product, not a driver.)

Recent RFCs rendered in HTML look really nice, are easier to read,
and *much* easier to consult on a smart phone. Mission accomplished.

It's easy enough to cite details by section number or by URL
(even figures, e.g. https://www.rfc-editor.org/rfc/rfc8989#venn1).
So losing page numbers, a feature of .txt that I've often seen
mentioned, seems unimportant. This applies to drafts as much
as to RFCs.

The only use I have made of .txt on recent drafts is to run rfcdiff.
IMHO, rfcdiff is an essential tool for document development.
I can't see anything else that amounts to a need.


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