[Doc-SIG] going awry

Ken Manheimer klm@digicool.com
Wed, 28 Mar 2001 15:35:45 -0500 (EST)

Darn.  We've had a number of occasions where the doc-sig has launched into
an effort to formulate doc string conventions, and took a turn to invent a
new language - which gets lost in the ether.  You seemed to be getting
some good progress on fixing the flaws in an existing language -
structured text - but it sounds eerily like you're heading towards
throwing that out the window, and inventing a new language.  I think
that's a shame.

I think a large part of guido's objections to structured text have to do
with battling painful implementation bugs, part to do with lack of
predictability, and part do with an expectation that rich-text markup
style is going to take over the world, even day-to-day communications.

I think the implementation-specific problems can be fixed by the efforts
we were seeing.  I think that's now in danger of being derailed, to be
replaced by another (how many years has this happened?) invent our own.  
(Perhaps i'm overstating it - maybe what's happening now is more about
trimming down from a successful example, which should not be near as prone
to getting off track.)

I think the expectation for use of rich-text markup style is misguided.  
There may be tons of day-to-day email out there in html format - but i'd
lay high odds that, excluding marketing spam, the vast majority uses no
markup at all.  (When really in on-the-fly communication mode, regular
people just type, they don't use menus.  They may resort to *punctuation*
to express formatting, but they'll rarely resort to <em>codes</em>.  IE
and netscape may package people's messages in delightful mime
plain-text/html packages, but i expect that the vast majority of the time
it's unnecessary.)

I hope, if you do try to invent a new language, you'll exploit some of the
economies and principles that structured text has demonstrated...