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RE: Lout, is it too late?

From: Neumann, Matthew C
Subject: RE: Lout, is it too late?
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 2000 13:50:08 -0500

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Paul Selormey [mailto:address@hidden
> Sent: Friday, September 08, 2000 1:30 AM
> To: address@hidden
> Subject: Lout, is it too late?
> Hello All,
> Lout is relatively very young and I wish the authors could consider
> a redesign of the system for a better future.

Actually, I like the system and think it's well-designed.

> 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
> nothing
> 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.

Lout as a whole is MUCH easier to set up than LaTeX.  I orginally tried to
work my project in LaTeX, but spent days and days without getting the
correct libraries and files in the right places.  For Lout, I just
downloaded, altered the very clear makefile, and made the system.  Piece of
cake.  Lout has LaTeX beat hands-down in this area.

> 1. Start from the source codes. 

Valeriy has a good point.  Names of files only help so much.  Much more
important is names of functions, and it looks to me, from a cursory
inspection, like lout does well there.

> 2. The syntax, yes the syntax is just too inconsistent and 
> very cryptic. 

It's actually not too inconsistent nor very cryptic, I think.  It's well
documented and, to my eyes, very sensible.

> Now, getting back to it, we have (from the slide advanced 
> graphics example)
> @SysInclude{fig}
> ...
> @Fig{
> @Box
>     margin{0c}
>     paint{black}
> @Ellipse
>     linestyle{noline}
>     paint{white}
> {Hello, World}
> }
> In line with the @Section example above, why are the keywords 
> margin, paint,
> linestyle
> not marked as @margin, @paint, and @linestyle?

Because they're modifiers to the real format, the @Box or @Ellipse.  Perhaps
changing the syntax to $margin, $paint, and $linestyle might make it a bit
clearer, but I don't think there's any danger of mistaking the "linestyle"
as modifying the Box for example.

> 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.

This is a bad thing?  Seems like desired behavior to me.  Why should lout
_care_ what file extension you feed to it?  I can have a lout file with a
.txt file extension; I'd be upset if lout refused to process it :-)

As far as XML goes, you have some good points.  But isn't it possible to
write an XML to lout format translator?  It would allow you to use XML then,
am I right?

I don't think it's "too late" for lout at all.


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