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Re: Refilling overrides texinfo commands

From: Karl Berry
Subject: Re: Refilling overrides texinfo commands
Date: Thu, 26 Jun 2003 18:44:02 -0400

    > 1. Change the standalone info to hide the same text as Emacs info does.

    > 2. Change Makeinfo to recognize when filling that that text will be
    >    hidden.

I suppose, although one of the whole purposes of Info format was to make
as simple to display as possible.  If any info reader now has to
magically know which text to hide, that makes the format that much less

Also, this will be the first time regular paragraphs will be treated
differently in Info and in plain text.  I guess that's not exactly a
problem, but it seems somewhat strange.

Finally, and most importantly, isn't the whole hiding feature optional?
In that case, if the user turns off hiding, they will have lines that
are too long.  What then?  They lose because they want to use Info as
originally designed?  Doesn't seem right.  Likewise, old info readers
won't know they're now supposed to hide text, so their display of new
info files will be suboptimal, although still usable.

Thinking more generally, it seems to me that a number of these new Emacs
Info features, including this one, are trying to intuit document
structure/information out of the plain text output, and that way lies

For example, what if next month someone decides they want to display
code fragments in a monospaced font and regular text in a variable-width
font?  (Heck, for all I know, maybe you already put in other magic
variables to try to do that.)  Or, what if someone resizes their window
to be wider or narrower, wouldn't it be nice if Emacs refilled all the
text to the new window size?  I'm sure we could dream up many other
features along these lines, based on analogous features in web browsers.

These are very reasonable things to want to do, but Info format just was
never designed to support any of this stuff, and grafting it on now
seems wrong to me.  As I said before, parsing the XML or docbook output
from makeinfo seems like a much more viable approach, since those
formats preserve the document structure.  (In theory, anyway, I'm sure
the implementation is not 100% correct at present.)

And, following that path, we might as well abandon the original Info
format entirely, instead of trying to add this or that feature to it.
We could leave Emacs Info and standalone Info basically alone, and
implement fancy new features in some new Emacs module that isn't
hampered by compatibility constraints.

One thing that would help is if the people who are working on these new
features could give a brief summary of where they want Info to go.  Kim,
anyone?  That way, we (I) won't be surprised after the fact when it
turns out makeinfo or standalone info need changes, etc.

Sorry this is so long.


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