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Lout, is it too late?

From: Paul Selormey
Subject: Lout, is it too late?
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 2000 15:29:50 +0900

Hello All,
Lout is relatively very young and I wish the authors could consider
a redesign of the system for a better future.
Please take this as my personal observation, and a desire to see this
system improve.
I found the system as it is now too cryptic, especially the syntax is
to be happy about. TeX made the same mistake and it needed LaTeX to
correct it over the years, and practically now no one really directly use
the TeX system.

1. Start from the source codes. Being an open source, one will expect anyone
to freely pick the source, study it and add improvements. However, very few
people will really wish to. The first thing that will put you off is the
filenames. This is my first to see file names like "z01.c", "z02.c" etc. How
do you
prefer this to "parser.c", "loutmain.c" for instance?

2. The syntax, yes the syntax is just too inconsistent and very cryptic. We
have to put the magic // there, according to the user guide it is beyond our
We have
@SysInclude{doc} for document,
@SysInclude{tab} for table (not tabs!),
 why not
@SysInclude{rep} for report?

We have
    @Title{Depth-first search}
This should be it...
@End @Section

Is the use of @Section (same keyword, same format) at both the start and end
not too inconsistent? and placing unnecessary burden on the parser?
I do not know yet, but this could be one of the reasons why the Lout system
too slow.
Now, getting back to it, we have (from the slide advanced graphics example)

{Hello, World}

In line with the @Section example above, why are the keywords margin, paint,
not marked as @margin, @paint, and @linestyle?

3. File extensions. Lout is really not strict about file extensions, why? I
do not know how
many here got to know the file extension, but I learnt about it from the
externs.h source codes
to be *.lt. Then I tried something like Hello.lt, it generated intermediate
files like Hello.li, cool.
I went on with Hello.lout, and it gave Hello.lout.li.

Now, what I wish to see for a future Lout is a system redesigned to support
the emerging
documentation and database standard--XML. HTML is now redesigned to
XHTML. DocBook went through the same process to use XML. There is hardly any
wordprocessor currently not based on XML, name them MSWord, WordPerfect,
StarOffice, KWord etc.
All new configuration files are being redesigned to use the XML. Database
systems are
leaving the propriety formats to XML.
So my question is, is it too late to consider a redesign of the Lout to XML
format? Parsers
are freely available and new onces are coming.
Where do you want to go today?

<lout filename = "Hello.lt">

Hello, Lout!

or better still...

<lout filename = "Hello.lt", comment = "My first Lout program">
<include directory = "system"> // to the system directory or "current" to
mean the current directory.

Hello, Lout!

How about the section example above
<section tag = "dfs", title = "Depth-first search">
This should be it...

About from being more elegant and easier to follow, parsing will be very
and faster compared to the current Lout format.

XML-based mathematics format, MathML, is already defined (a standard) and
new web browsers like the Mozilla have already supported it.
Mathematica now uses this format and the scope of Lout will be unlimited
when this format is supported. We may execute equations right from text
editors using Mathematica and others systems that are bound to support this.

With the XML-based Lout, the conversion from and to any wordprocessor could
easily done. This is the future, a common format for all.

Hello Jeff Kingston, this is my little thought of what could be better for
Lout. Ideas are
said to be like diamonds, they needed to be cut and polished. I am not an
expert in this,
neither do I understand it completely. However, I see a future in it, and
world global
community seems to be heading towards this direction.

Best regards,

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