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lynx-dev lynx: that faq-o-matic thing: not so great for reading doc

From: David Combs
Subject: lynx-dev lynx: that faq-o-matic thing: not so great for reading doc
Date: Sat, 27 May 2000 06:52:11 -0700 (PDT)

Re the suggestion that I add to the doc the nifty trick of
saving the html of the V-page, for restoring during some future
run of lynx (soo cool!) -- I looked at our faq, which evidently
now runs via the "faq-o-matic" system (created by some guy at
dartmouth college (where, yes, I spent 4 years way way back when,
no women then, long "road trips" each weekend, lucky to still be
alive, remember one night going (sliding) down one long hill
with sharp right turn at bottom at huge stone wall abutment(sp?)
, ("filling" by david by hand) -- slid, slid, slid, slid, finally
stopped two feed from abutment.  (Someone was looking out for me, I 
guess, though don't know who) -- real fun up there in frozen north;
remember one day starting at -18F, never got above 0F.  Was there
my final (senior) year when in ROTC building they got their first
GE t/s computer, 225 or something, and Kurtz (from whom I had a
numerical analysis class in engineering school) started work on
BASIC, and next year (I was gone to gradSch to
"they're out there having fun,
in that warm california sun" (recall that song?), as far away as
possible from that then 100%-male frozen northeast (like something 
out of Jack London) -- any, enough about dartmouth (do these parens
balance?)))) yes they do...

Back to the faq-o-matic.

It seems to be, from my 10 minutes with it and linking to the
main faq-o-matic site, where the doc ABOUT faq-o-matic is ALSO
all IN faq-o-matic, it's mainly ONE QUESTION AT A TIME.

Great!  No, not great.  I like to download an ENTIRE piece of doc,
faq, or whatever, run it through the ancient (but excellent -- and
about 99% unknown) postscript-formatter I use ("Scribe"), printing
it out 8-point two columns, and LEAVE the computer and go read it
somewhere else, eg bed, couch, train, "throne-room", ...,
marking it up, drawing arrows from here to there, ...

Yes, you CAN get the whole thing in one piece, but man is it UGLY!
At every faq "item" there's about 2 or 3 lines of ugly link-stuff
, as you can see here, from the "manual":

   This part is a directory part.
   [32](Answer) This Item Is Empty.
   [[33]Add a New Answer in "Navigation"]
   (Answer) [34](Category) Faq-O-Matic Faq-O-Matic : [35](Category)
   Users' Guide : [36](Category) Navigation :
   This Item Is Empty.
   [[37]Append to This Answer]
   (Answer) [38](Category) Faq-O-Matic Faq-O-Matic : [39](Category)
   Users' Guide :
   Appearance Controls
   Categories have a [Show This Entire Category] link at the bottom that
   displays not only the current category, but all of its descendants.
   At the top of a big Faq-O-Matic, this can produce an enormous HTML
   The [Appearance] page lets you set a series of options:
   The "expert editing commands" let you edit a FAQ in fancier ways than
   just adding new answers or appending to existing ones.
   "Show name of moderator" tells you who has control over a category of
   the FAQ. If you are not permitted to directly change that part of the
   FAQ, the moderator is the person you should talk to.
   "Show last modified date" tells you when an answer was last updated.
   "Show attributions" tells you who contributed to an answer.
   "Simple HTML" reduces the output to very simple text formatting,
   suitable for even very old browsers.
   The "commands for generating text output" adds new commands to the
   command bar at the bottom of the page. These commands reformat the
   display at simple text, suitable for sending by e-mail or posting to
   [[40]Append to This Answer]
   (Answer) [42](Category) Faq-O-Matic Faq-O-Matic : [43](Category)
   Users' Guide :
   Access Statistics
   Because it's so much fun to generate GIFs on the fly, every
   Faq-O-Matic comes with a built in access log and statistics page.
   This faqomatic has these statistics pages:
   Daily statistics for the last two months: [44]
   Statistics going back to the creation of this Faq-O-Matic:
   The same statistics, sampled only every two weeks:
   [[48]Append to This Answer]
   (Answer) [49](Category) Faq-O-Matic Faq-O-Matic : [50](Category)
   Users' Guide :
   The [Search] link in the command bar at the bottom of each page lets
   you search for answers by text contents or by how recently the answer
   was updated. The search engine checks every item in the Faq-O-Matic
   for your words with any suffix. That is, if you search for "disk",
   you may find hits on "disk" or "diskette".
   The search runs from a search database that is periodically updated
   (usually hourly), so searching may miss an item that has been

Now, go try the admin-manual(!).  Note that you have to show it
"wide" (eg 132 cols) because it includes parts (or all?) of the
perl programs that constitute the faq-o-matic system.


Now, maybe it looks ok in netscape or something, but in lynx
it does NOT!  At not for printing out and making for "easy"


Now, my question (and I cc this email to address@hidden, 
who wrote the thing) is this: is there SOME way to reformat
this thing so it looks DECENT for armchair-reading?

"Decent", that is, when output by LYNX!


Yes, this faq-o-matic has its really neat points, esp the
ability to take extra info from the random user, to be
incorporated into the faq or doc itself.


Even if it MIGHT look nice via NS or IE (I haven't tried),
if you want to print (at least from NS), it goes into
postscript (I neither have nor want now will allow on
my system ANY M$ software) and I've lost my chance for
reformatting it two columns 8 point.

So it must be LYNX that produces it.

Since it seems to be generated by perl programs
(the html, I guess), perhaps THOSE can be hacked to
make for something prettier -- MAYBE "special" hacks
recognized by ONLY lynx (hacks to it too, to recognize
this stuff?).

I don't know.  But if we want NICE looking doc that a new
lynx user can read from an armchair, etc, faq-o-matic
doesn't seem (to me) to cut it, right now.

Though with some hacking of the perl progs, it could probably
be made a LOT better looking (when run through lynx).

Do go look at the doc avail at that dartmouth site; maybe
there IS some way that I didn't see that WILL make it look
a lot more manual-like, for printing all-at-once.


Again, the faq-o-matic system is really neat, and really
IDEAL for some developed-via-internet by people no two
of whom have ever actually seen each other face-to-face.


I would say that maybe some post-processing step over
the faq-o-matic output -- but with the thing written in
perl, with all the data-structures already built up in it,
probably a lot easier to make a separate copy of one
or more of its modules and hack them, just for lynx
(or maybe for anyone, making a "prettier" whole-thing-at-once


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