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Re: HTML in addition to GNU Info? (was: ... instead ...)

On Wed, Jun 23, 1999 at 10:00:07AM -0500, John Goerzen wrote:
> Norbert Nemec <nobbi@cheerful.com> writes:
> > | The unification of Debian documentation is being carried out via HTML.
> > 
> > I think that speaks clearly. Now I sure do not want everybody to write raw
> Well then we need to change it.  The fact is that HTML is an extremely 
> poor language for much of anything of even moderate complexity, let
> alone documentation for one large package or 3000 ones.

That is true, but it has the huge advantages, that
- you need little resources to read it (Ok other formats are better in that
  point, but some are much worse, too)
- you can convert much of the other formats into HTML with free tools
- you can read it quite comfortable on screen (You will admit, that that is
  done much more nowadays than printing it out. Especially when you don't have
 time to fiddle around and just want to look something up quickly.

> There are many problems with HTML:
>  * You can't get nice typeset output.

Nobody says, documentation has to be written in HTML. Usually, you have texi
or sgml files and can use those for printing. Most recent thoughts on this
list were about having those sources installed from the packages so printing
would be much easier than it is now.

>  * Searching is inaccurate and difficult.  At best, one searches on
>    all words in title or body.  With other formats, it's possible to
>    search in only certain parts or sections (ie, ignore footnotes,
>    quotations, etc).

Ok, that is the one major drawback of HTML. GNU Info does allow much more
here, but there you have very limited possibilities for markup and layout,
which, IMO, ways just as heavy.

Besides these two formats I do not know of any other that we could even
consider right now (especially, the tools would be needed.)

> What about SGML?

Yea, that is what I use, too, for writing, but not for the installed format.
And which format is used for writing has to be left to the author.

> What about those documents in formats that simply are too
> sophisticated to convert to HTML?  (This applies to a number of LaTeX
> documents.  Yes, I know there is a latex2html, but it can't even touch 
> some LaTeX stuff.)

Ok, there is nothing we can do about those, but then LaTeX can't really be
converted to any real online format (Besides pdf, perhaps, but that's some
overkill) Whoever writes LaTeX, writes for printing not for online reading.

> Info also has problems.  Navigation is horrid, it's even more
> difficult to get a typeset copy from the .info files than it is from
> .html, etc.

Navigation is a question of the browser and printing should be done from the
.texi source, instead, but still I miss much in info, as well.

-- ______________________________________________________
--          To Him, even that machine here has to obey...
-- _________________________________Norbert "Nobbi" Nemec
-- Hindenburgstr. 44  ...  D-91054 Erlangen  ...  Germany
-- eMail: <nobbi@cheerful.com>    Tel: +49-(0)-911-204180

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