Also, why isn't HTML an accepted format for Internet Drafts, pretty
much everyone on the planet should be able to read an HTML file (even
using Lynx on a terminal)?
and that goes for pdf too, given that the irs uses it too :)
It isn't accepted because flat, plain ASCII text is by far the most
portable format on the planet and beyond. For example, there are
plenty of IETFers who still read the drafts in email, and still use
email clients that don't handle HTML natively.
It is easiest to work with when you are on a "dumb" device. Pretty
much any program that can handle text at all can handle unadorned
ASCII, but HTML can be much more of a nuisance.
Also, when you say "read an HTML file", what HTML do you mean?
-//IETF//DTD HTML Strict Level 0//EN//2.0?
-//W3C//ENTITIES Full Latin 1//EN//HTML?
-//SQ//DTD HTML 2.0 HoTMetaL + extensions//EN?
Once you decide on that, how do you make sure everyone's favorite
authoring tools are putting out compliant documents? Sure, a verifier
can be run on them. For some of these tools, however, getting them to
generate a document that is compliant with a particular document type
can be a frustrating experience when the user is told the document
won't be accepted if it isn't compliant.
PDF is an even bigger headache. Even many mail clients that purport
to handle HTML natively do not handle PDF, and operating systems
mostly don't even ship with a viewer. Forget about trying to look at
PDF on a dumb device or process it with standard text tools like
Unix's "grep". And how widespread are freely available PDF authoring
Finally, the technology used by the USA's IRS (nationwide taxing
authority) should not be looked to as a model for the IETF. They have
a very specific set of requirements for their documents -- that forms
appear in an especially consistent way to ease the processing of the
tremendous volume of paperwork that they process. While a consistent
outline is important for IETF documents, the same degree of precision
in reproduction is not needed for us.