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Re: terminal escapes in Info files?

From: Alper Ersoy
Subject: Re: terminal escapes in Info files?
Date: Tue, 28 Oct 2003 12:51:03 +0200
User-agent: Mutt/1.4.1i

Karl Berry:
>     How about using what Enriched-Text mode uses in Emacs?  See
>     etc/enriched.doc in the Emacs distro.

> That is indeed a lot cleaner (also quite a bit more verbose :).  Thanks
> for mentioning it, I wasn't aware of it.

I think we can summarize the possible directions in two groups:

  1) Older versions friendly,
  2) Future versions friendly.

(1) is using ANSI escapes directly in Info files.  The benefit is,
these files will still be displayed correctly by older versions of
info when -R option is given (though I'm not sure about emacs.) Also
no further processing is necessary in info.  Minimal set of changes,
most will be in makeinfo.

The downside is, GUI browsers will be limited severely by an
inexpansible markup on what can be done when rendering.  For example
two elements having the same ANSI escapes (@var{} and @env{} are good
candidates) may become indistinguishable even though there's enough
room in the display environment to associate different styles with
these elements.  Also ANSI is a frozen specification, so we may hit
its limits pretty soon.

(2) is using a specialized markup.  The benefit is of course Info
files will take advantage of the medium they are presented in to its
maximum, provided that the browser is aware of this markup.

The downside is, Info becomes an intermediate format rather than
a final one, always asking for an additional step in the browsers.
Display will be totally screwed in older versions[1].

So, the decision really is on the part of Info history we can discard
rather than the markup format.  The bad thing about standards is it's
very hard to break them ;)


[1] We must give a visual clue about this to avoid possible
frustration.  Perhaps something like the following at the top
of each node?

    Your browser relies on an obsolete Info specification.
    See *note bla bla::.
  ^H^[/ignore] (or some other markup)

And a hidden DON'T PANIC! "bla bla" node that gives information about
where to find new versions of browsers.  Compliant browsers will
conceal this text and also hide "bla bla" node from tab completions,
next/prev commands, etc.  completely.  But I digress.

Alper Ersoy

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