[Doc-SIG] Proposal for indented sections in reStructuredText

Guido van Rossum guido@digicool.com
Thu, 14 Jun 2001 09:26:27 -0400

> From: Wolfgang Lipp <wolfgang.lipp@epost.de>

> >> Guido van Rossum <guido@digicool.com> wrote:
> >Very funny, but not a reasonable argument.  Presenting program source
> >code has a history of about 50 years, and indentation has been part of
> >the presentation tradition for about 40 of those.  Plain text however,
> >has been around for, oh, 30 centuries, and I am as skeptical of this
> >"innovation" as I am of many other "improvements" to text presentation
> >that have been proposed by computer geeks.
> you don't like *this*?

Assuming you're talking about using *word* for emphasis, it strikes me
as something we have to put up with for a little while longer until
our standard communications tools are more capable -- just as in the
70s, some computer science papers were computer-formatted on a
mainframe that could only print UPPER CASE LETTERS.  As more and more
people are capable or reading and writing HTML-enhanced email, I hope
we'll get used to reading that's more pleasing to the eye than
fixed-width ASCII.  (And those who hate HTML email because it can
be abused to the point of being unreadable, I remind that text email
has its problems too, such as mailers auto-wrapping already
preformatted text.)

> I'd conclude: indentation for text is not much different 
> from using braces in text: easy for the machine, difficult 
> for the human... ;-) apart from that, I've often been puzzled with
> indentations on-the-pagebreak -- but in my editor, there are 
> no pages. As for indented text, I can, at least, *guess* the
> structural level locally by assessing the whitespace to the 
> left; with mark-up-only, I have to scroll up in long texts 
> seeking the last heading(s) (plural in case of free-form 
> underline style) to find out (and that is something computers
> are much better in than I am).

Assuming you care.  The large structure of text is much less relevant
than the structure of code.

> >> text. I agree. If a majority turns out to be in favour of a more liberal 
> >> solution that allows more than one way, would that beat TSBOOWTDI, or is 
> >> TSBOOWTDI even above that?
> >
> >Sure, but I would doubt a majority of votes in this forum, where geeks
> >are overrepresented.
> What kind of voting is the custom, then? (Got to find out, I guess).

In the Python world, you have to convince me.  *Sometimes* a large
number of responses in favor or against (as just happened with PEP 259
:-) convinces me.  *Sometimes* a single well-reasoned argument can
convince me.  And *sometimes* we both just have to do our own
thing... :-)

> Thanks for the reply, I enjoyed reading it.

You're welcome.

--Guido van Rossum (home page: http://www.python.org/~guido/)