Excerpts from mail: 4-Jun-91 Re: Richmail Brian Wideen(_at_)vancouver(_dot_)o
I thought the goal was to define a format that would gain quick acceptance
and use. RICHTEXT is limited to a small community with the resources
to implement small conversion or display programs. Those using PC-based
or Office Automation Tools are left with no simple solution.
I think this is an open question. I don't see why richtext is
inherently limited to a small community. Certainly the 38 lines that
turn it into text can run on just about any computer I can think of, and
that's precisely the whole point: Even the lowest-end machines can be
made, relatively easily, to handle richtext reasonably intelligently
(i.e. not showing the users the formatting "junk").
I don't think the richness of RTF is a barrier to this goal. From what
I understand of RTF, the syntax is simple. Therefore, I could easily
implement a filter which threw away everything but a few key commands
I can render on my printer or terminal (bold, italics, 1.45 angstrom
spacing). Further, I can feed the entire document to my favorite
word processor and benefit from richness that is available.
I'm skeptical that we're talking about the same degree of "easiness"
here. But I await the RTF specification with an open mind.
Specifying a text format in the RFC is worthwhile for all the reasons
Nathaniel outlined. But I think it should be restricted to identifying
the format, and not defining a new one.
If there were any format the fit the bill for what I'm looking for, I'd
agree completely. The vital quality that I think is absent from all
the existing formats can be expressed simply: the code that turns that
format into plain text must be extremely simple, small, public domain,
and comprehensible, so that people implementing text-only mail systems
will not deem it an unnecessary burden to include it. If I were writing
a text-only mail system, I think I would regard the 38 lines for
richmail as a reasonable way to accomodate the world of more powerful
mail systems. If someone offered me, as an alternative, ten pages of
code that convert RTF to text, I'd have to think about it long and hard.
That's the difference. I want a rich text format that will be
sufficiently acceptable to those who won't benefit by it that it really
stands a chance of becoming ubiquitously available.