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RE:Lout, is it too late?

From: Ian Carr-de Avelon
Subject: RE:Lout, is it too late?
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 2000 12:42:26 +0200

As I am also A) new to lout B) considering the XML connection, I'll
make a few comments here, although I'm not implying that I am very 
knowligable, I simply think it gives an unevenness to a debate if there
are very few taking part.

>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.
I came to lout because in LaTeX I couldn't work out how to write letters
with addresses in the right place for a window envelope. The available
online information on TeX or LaTeX just does not let you get real work
done IE. where just acceping defaults is not acceptable.
I don't know either TeX or LaTeX well enough internally to comment on 
how they are different from Lout (do you?), I simply see that Lout gives
me something I can work with.
As to the mistake of TeX; LaTeX didn't replace TeX it works on the top
of it. Maybe that was just lazyness, but a direct LaTeX to dvi package
in, say, C would probably be even more difficult to change from its
defaults than LaTeX is.
>2. The syntax, yes the syntax is just too inconsistent and very cryptic
>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.
>    <file>document</file>
>    <file>figure</file>
>Hello, Lout!
Why not:
<filename value="Hello.lt">
<comment>My first Lout program</comment>
<document templates="system">
Hello, Lout!
There is no real consitency in any of this. I think there is a basic dicotomy
between how the document author wants to deal with content and how you program
getting that on paper. TeX, LaTeX, Lout (and I'm sure etc.) aim to deal with
that problem and the fact that they are not considered perfect after decades 
of work suggests to me that there will always be things which look good from 
one end, but not the other. I'm English, and I see "English Breakfast" on
offer in hotels over the world, but  I never order it, because if you want
to eat well, you have to eat what they can cook well. If you want to make
documents you like with lout, probably you have to build macros which fit your 
ideas with what lout provides. The real point is, can you change the meaning
of the <document> tag to get "Hello, Lout!" displayed in the way you want.

My solution is to parse an XML, of my own design to HTML or Lout with macros.
We have our own standard tags, which we use for all documents. These allow
us to provide all our documents in a variety of formats.
Apparently some of the conversions take a long time. However I update
via CVS when I go home at night and as long as it is finished by the morning,
I don't care.

Maybe one day there will be a printer which works directly with my tags, rather
than converting them->lout->postscript->marks on paper, but I'll be getting
on with my life rather than promoting the idea.


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