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Re: rethinking @def*

From: pertusus
Subject: Re: rethinking @def*
Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2022 14:53:02 +0200

On Tue, Jul 26, 2022 at 11:31:27AM +0000, Werner LEMBERG wrote:
> ... I consider this a bad idea.  Whatever you are going to change, it
> will be backward incompatible, causing a lot of grief.

It is only backward incompatible in term of formatting, not in term of
Texinfo language or syntax (nor truely in term of semantics, as there is
no clear semantics for now).  This could require adjustments, but the
worst that can happen in case those adjustments are not done is some
change in formatting.  Texinfo formatting is not supposed to be fixed,
in general, as the language is semantic.  We should still be as
conservative as possible, but in that case, I think that the formatting
is wrong, because the semantic is not well defined, such that changing
the formatting is a way to fix it.

The most non backward compatible change I propose is that @deftype* not
to be slanted anymore.  Also there would be more typewriter fonts, but
the manual is not so clear on what is in typewriter and what is not in
@def* arguments.  Also for lisp manuals which rely on &word being bold,
it could require some additional markup, but this is not really
documented, except in "Inserting ‘&’ with @& and @ampchar{}".

>  For example,
> the adjustments to document troff commands (in the groff info manual)
> are quite tricky, trying very hard to overcome the various limitations
> and formatting issues of `@def` and friends.

Would the change I propose require to modify those adjustments?  Would
the new formatting be incorrect?  The change I propose are not that much
backward incompatible.

> I thus strongly suggest that you implement *new* commands, say,
> `@define`, `@define*`, etc., that have better semantics.

I do not think that it is a good idea.  The semantics are not really
changing, in my opinion, because they were ill specified and
inconsistent before, adding different commands would seem wrong to me.
Only the formatting is changing.


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