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 :)
I'd like to see us accept HTML as an alternate format for I-Ds,
and perhaps eventually RFCs. One problem is that HTML is not
in reality as portable as we would like. For instance, there
are a lot of tools that generate bogus HTML or HTML with
proprietary extensions; the user of those tools is generally
unaware that the HTML produced by those tools is polluted.
This also means that the same document can be rendered quite
differently by different viewers to the point that important
portions of the document are unreadable - hardly a desirable
trait for specifications that are candiates for standardization.
I think we'd need to restrict HTML to a subset that really is
portable - e.g. no frames, scripts, or bogus characters such
as are all-too-commonly generated by certain vendors, and no
reliance on relatively new features of HTML. Tables should
probably be avoided except when absolutely necessary.
OTOH, if we wanted to include images (and we probably would) then
perhaps MHTML should also be acceptable, and we would need to
decide which image format(s) were permissable. Unfortunately MHTML
is not yet so widely supported.
So the Secretariat would need tools to identify and reject bogus
HTML or MHTML, and authors would need tools to convert whatever
garbage was produced by their HTML editors or translators into
the HTML subset acceptable for I-Ds. The Secretariat would also need
to arrange for the I-D processing system and the various I-D
mirrors to accept HTML documents. Finally, we'd want to be able
to convert the HTML documents to high-quality plain text more-or-less
conforming to current I-D or RFC conventions.
None of these problems is insurmountable, but as yet nobody has
put all of the pieces together and worked out the details with
the Secretariat and/or RFC editor. (hint: with an IETF meeting
approaching, now is probably NOT a good time to start trying to do this)
There's a mailing list to discuss the issues associated with putting
RFCs (and therefore also I-Ds) in HTML -
to subscribe send mail to rfcs-in-html-REQUEST(_at_)cs(_dot_)utk(_dot_)edu
It's been dormant for awhile, but perhaps there's more interest now.
PDF on the other hand is lousy for small displays. I would
apply the same restrictions to PDF as are currently in place
for PostScript - it's fine as a secondary format, but should
be used as a primary format only when absolutely necessary.
(which is to say, essentially never)
However, PDF versions of existing RFCs (rendered in Courier) would be
useful for folks who are saddled with brain-damaged operating systems
that (as shipped) lack the ability to properly print plain ASCII
text delimited by form feeds.