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

tom petch daedulus at btconnect.com
Tue Aug 24 03:29:04 PDT 2021

On 23/08/2021 22:27, John Levine wrote:
> It appears that Julian Reschke  <julian.reschke at gmx.de> said:
>>> txt is compact; not as compact as Shannon would allow but I have seen
>>> pdf in the IETF that are some 50 times the size of the txt version. Yes,
>>> computers get bigger and faster but not that much.
>> Example? (The only reasons I can think of are either scanned documents,
>> or documents with lots of graphics not present in the TXT version).
> For the RFCs published since we switched xml, the total text is 25MB, the html
> is 59MB, and the PDFs are 120MB.  They're larger but it doesn't seem like a
> qualitative difference to me.


The I-D that caught my eye some time ago, but stayed in my mind, was
which appeared in the repository as a pdf of 2.826Mbyte. Copying the 
text and saving it as such the file is 80kbyte; ok, only a 35-fold 
increase and for an ephemeral I-D not an RFC.

I have no way of looking into a .pdf to see what has happened.  I know 
for example that an e-mail can grow tenfold when the sender includes the 
entire MS Office style sheet and I assume that similar things are 
possible with .pdf.

As you may gather, I am not an optimist.  'Smile things could be worse 
and I smiled, and Lo, things were worse'.  Sums up my experience of 
trying to contribute to the IETF over the past 21 months with a number 
of issues, some generated by the IETF, others of a more generic nature. 
  Were .txt to go I think I would write off the IETF as unsupportable:-(

Tom Petch

>> Well, depends on "processing". How well does your smart phone "process"
>> plain text formatted for printing on A4/letter?
> Even on a stock Windows or Mac laptop, the tools to handle text files are pretty poor.
> We have tools that only work on the text rendering of RFCs, most notably rfcdiff.
> But that means we need to improve our tool set, not that we should be stuck with
> fixed pitch text forever.
> R's,
> John
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