Peter Flynn wrote a wonderful ramble (as he modestly called it) about
the pragmatics of text editing on today's -- yesterday's, some would say --
> The source code of PC-Write is available from the authors, but there are
> other, probably much better, editors also available. The alternative is to
> shell out $6000 for a copy of Arbortext's SGML/edit (no TEI discount) or
> use SoftQuad's Author/Editor (our choice for the future), or one of the other
> offerings: and they all have their drawbacks, including an assumption that
> the user (often a WP-oriented student, staff or faculty member) has a sound
> working knowledge of SGML.
We like to think (and many of our users agree) that an Author/Editor
user does _not_ need a sound knowledge of SGML. Instead, one uses a
graphical representation of the document, with icons representing the
start & end of document elements. One has to know about the idea of
structured documents, but that transcends SGML or any one product, I'd
hope. Of course, if one is going to use RulesBuilder to create DTDs
one has to know SGML.
It's also worth mentioning that no-one ever need type, or even see, any
actual SGML with Author/Editor. Many of our users don't even realise
they're using SGML!
I do agree with Peter that
> but we still have
> the major hurdle to overcome: getting users to think structured rather than
> think visual, until the software becomes capable of divining (or asking for)
> *why* the user has switched to boldface, or has entered an isolated line
> beginning with a digit and a period
The nearest we've come up with so far in our released product, I think,
apart from the obvious context sensitivity, is associating a natural-
language description with each tag, so you can at least hove something
E1 Emphasised, or bold, text
KW Keywords or jargon
and so forth. Associating screen styles helps a lot, too.
Showing an IPA string with the IPA font is, in the absence of Unicode,
10646, or suitable ASCII representations of the IPA, a necessity, of
We are all looking forward to a world where 16-bit character sets are
the norm, and where large numbers of special and national characters
are available, but in the meantime we have to live with what we have.
I think this is a large part of the difference between Glenn, Erik and
Keld: Glenn is already using Unicode (I understand); it's less clear
to some of the other people on this list how they should go from where
they are now to where hey would like to be in three or five years'
time, without spending more money tham they have.
Reviewing a book on X Windows recently which described a terminal
window as `just like an ordinary alphanumerical terminal', I made a
note asking the author how many of the readers - many of whom wil be
students - will ever have seen an `alphanumerical terminal'. Probably
not many. It's easy to forget that there can be a huge gulf between an
R & D establishmet or University and what people are acually using
Liam Quin, [log in to unmask], SoftQuad, Toronto, 416 239-4801; the barefoot programmer
lq-text (Unix text retrieval package) mailing list: [log in to unmask]
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