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Re: International texinfo

From: Karl Berry
Subject: Re: International texinfo
Date: Wed, 4 Jun 2003 19:34:04 -0400

Hello Rodrigo,

Thanks for all your comments.

    Recently I tried again, having heard that there has been an effort
    in internationalizing Texinfo.

The internationalization work was to make the error messages in the
source be translatable.  Little has been done, most unfortunately, at
the source level.

  The initial strategy, of having a unique, pure ASCII, source document
  is the correct one. Any effort in allowing the .texi document to be
  written in extended alphabets is a step in the wrong direction.

I'm not so sure about this.  It seems natural to me to support users
wishing to write Texinfo documents in their encoding and language,
without having to resort to @'e and the like.  Accents are so incredibly
prevalent in some languages, it would be truly painful to have to type
them as individual commands.

   The letters "i" and "j" with accents above them should be constructed
   with the versions of such letters without the dot.

Oh, absolutely.  But it's difficult to implement this as an automated
feature in TeX.

    On the other hand, as far as I know, @dotless{i} and
    @dotless{j} are useless.

Why are they useless?  That is exactly what you have to do in plain TeX,
after all, say \'\i.  The equivalent in Texinfo is @'@dotless{i}.

   To prohibit the use of accented letters in names of chapters etc. is

The problem isn't in chapter names -- accents should be supported there,
no problem.  If not, send me an example.  The problem is in *node*
names, where @ commands are prohibited.  (This also causes problems with
the TeX logo.)

Although the multi-argument forms of @xref are designed to allow for
producing the proper output, it is annoying to have to respecify

In the end, allowing accent commands in node names is probably necessary.

   The principal problem with makeinfo is the poor quality of what it yields
   for the accents and symbols. 

A contributor (Karl Heinz Marbaise) happily contributed changes to allow
for outputting true 8-bit characters, with the --enable-encoding
option.  This has been in makeinfo since version 4.1.

It won't help with accents in node names, of course, but at least in
the main text you can get the right thing.

Sorry I don't have better news or even an estimate of when i18n will be
better supported.  Thanks again for your comments.


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