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[Groff] Re: Formatting braille

From: Susan Jolly
Subject: [Groff] Re: Formatting braille
Date: Tue, 14 Nov 2006 09:02:07 -0700

>However, this markup must be added by someone.

Yes.  What I meant by "fully automated" is that the application does all the
hard part of the formatting given appropriate markup added by a human.  I
did not mean some sort of parser that intuits the structure.

For example, if you mark something to be "centered" and include information
as to the minimum indentation from the left and right margins, the app does
the actual centering.

Or, the app takes care of making sure there's room to put a footnote where
it belongs or does the tedious part of formatting a table.

If you consider how much work has gone into groff and its predecessors over
approximately the same time period as commercial braille transcribing
applications have been around, it's not surprising that they still require
more human adjustment than absolutely necessary.  (Not to mention the moving
target of dealing with the increasing changes in print formats.)  A braille
transcribing application has to do just about everything groff does plus
translating print to braille.  And I don't think there's been a Kernighan or
Clark around to do a major re-write as needed.

There are beginning to be very nice applications that make it easy for
humans to do the minimum necessary for adding markup, especially in XML.  It
might sound backwards but a possibility is to do the markup in XML and then
use XSLT to transform the file to one with groff commands.  Has anyone done
this for DocBook?

As far as use by blind persons who aren't computer types, a command-line app
is ideal. Having to use a screen reader to make a GUI simulate a
command-line app seems like a pain.



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