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Comments from Frankston, Reed, and Friends

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

BobF at 12:30 PM [url]:


We need something between the extremes of "plain ASCII" (from the days of typewriters and teletypes for those of us old enough to remember those things) and the utterly complex HTML generated by Word. I call this HTML litetm (OK, not really a TM). Its goal is modest -- to get past the uglification that occurs due to the lack of the concept of a paragraph in plain text. While I'm at it, I'm willing to slide a little and support a few more HTML features (though using XML (XHTML) formatting to make it easier to write a renderer:

  • <p> Paragraphs.

  • <b> <i> <u> Bold, Italics and Underline. Maybe just one of them would be enough

  • <ul> <li> Bullet points. Only one kind though nestable.
  • <a> Links (the A stands for Anchor). Not only for easy of clicking but also to avoid having to see long ugly references though, for safety, I should be able to see through them if I choose.

  • &amp; et al Need to have a limited set of extension characters. Some: amp gt lt quot are needed simply for XML support. More open to question are extended characters for emdash as well as the various quotes and typography symbols for copyright, trademark etc. I'm not sure how far to go on this. Closely related is the question of Unicode.

  • <blockquote> This is a little fancy but there is a need to be able to embed quoted information, especially in forwarded email.

  • <br/> Break. Just need something a little lighter than a paragraph. Note the XML-like trailing slash

  • <hr/> OK this is an indulgence.

There are lots of other features I would want like tables but I would rather draw the line and stay with a small subset than go further. One reason is to try to avoid getting fancy so that the message is readable without a special viewer. This means that one should always put <p> at the beginning of a line and </p> would also be at the end followed by a blank line.

My goal is very modest -- I want to be able to read the message that was written, not some version that looks like a ransom note.

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