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Re: terminal escapes in Info files?

From: Karl Berry
Subject: Re: terminal escapes in Info files?
Date: Tue, 28 Oct 2003 15:06:04 -0500

    But by switching to something like enriched-mode, 

After a bit thought, I think we can't "switch" to enriched mode,
exactly, because of the compatibility problem.  We could write enriched
text as a new output format, and maybe in five years or so make it the

    I guess the question is: how much work would it require to take
    the subset of HTML generated by makeinfo and render it (both
    in M-x info and in the info program) ?

As for the info program goes, it would be tantamount to writing a new
program.  I guess some of the screen display stuff could be reused.  But
in any case, I definitely wouldn't bother doing this.  Instead, I'd just
tell people to use lynx or emacs-w3 or whatever.  I've never really seen
the point of standalone info in the first place, as I've mentioned before.
But some people like it, so fine.

Also, makeinfo's html output is very very far from ideal.  (texi2html
does a better job, sadly.)  So it wouldn't be a good design to implement
only the html being output now.  I suspect it would end up needing to be
close to a full-fledged html interpreter, for the same reasons that you
surmise enriched text would eventually not be enough.

    why enhance the Info format rather than change the readers (to use
    the HTML output of makeinfo rather than the Info output) ?

1) Because that is a huge change with many ramifications.
2) Because anyone who wants to can already do that.  If you or anyone
   want to write or improve HTML readers for makeinfo's html output, great. 
   That can be done independently of changing existing Info files.
3) [the main point] Because Info is terminal-based.  Therefore, it makes
   sense to add capabilities to Info format which can be expressed on
   terminals -- namely, standard terminal escape sequences.  This is
   where we came in.

Inventing an entirely new output format, or using html as you suggest,
may well be a worthwhile goal, but it is very long term and will take a
lot of effort.

By contrast, getting the principal two existing Info readers to
understand ANSI escape sequences is very little work by comparison, has
no compatibility issues, and could immediately improve the info-browsing

One more msg coming up ...

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