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

John Levine johnl at taugh.com
Sat Aug 21 15:27:03 PDT 2021

It appears that Robert Sparks  <rjsparks at nostrum.com> said:
>There have been several times we have had long threads where people have 
>told us what they use the text formats for. They've been compelling, at 
>least to me, for helping ensure the format continues to be produced.

Early on I thought the text version was a barbarous relic, but as I
talked to more people I see that it remains useful mostly because we
(for a very broad version of we, not limited to the IETF) do not have
adequate tools for using non-text versions. We don't have xmldiff or
xml or html grep. Several people have said that when they're
commenting on a draft or I-D, they copy and paste rectangular regions
of text, which is generally impossible in HTML in a browser. (You can
copy, but try to select a rectangle.) To do anything with a PDF beyond
display or print it needs a graduate seminar in PDF-ology.

This tells me that we need to keep the text version and it needs to have the full
contents of the document, but not that it has to be particularly beautiful.  The HTML
is where you get the beautiful version.


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