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Re: AFT -- Almost free text.



Good question.

On Fri, 11 Jan 2002 07:09:06 -0500 (EST)
Dave Mielke <dave mielke cc> wrote:
> 
> Here's my stupid question for the day. Why would one need to do that? Why not
> just give the person who's insisting on using Word the plain old ASCII file and
> let him tell Word to read it in? Surely Word can read in a plain old ASCII text
> file, can't it?

Why? Because .RTF or HTML files can be a little bit more
pleasant to read -- such a file can have basic bold,
underlined, and alignement (left/right/centered-aligned
text) functions.

Because, whether you like it or not (and whether you use it
or not) some people require a minimum of text formatting in
the documents you send them. Some may even require you to
insert a proper company logo & header, a standardized footer,
disclaimer, etc, which are simply impossible to render in
straight ASCII.

Because these users may need to print your document and show
them to someone else. Plain vanilla ASCII does not make very
good printable, professional-looking versions...

Because you may need to generate files for both sighted and
non-sighted users. With aft, I think I have found one of the
best solution for this: enter everything in an ASCII file,
convert to HTML or straight ASCII for non-sighted users and 
to RTF or HTML for sighted users. One or two commands and I
am done.

Because a badly-formatted ASCII file can be a pain in the neck
to read on a screen. You should think "staircase effect" here:
two words on one line, then two words on another line (slightly
to the right of the first line), then two other words on a third
line (again slightly more to the right than the 2nd) and so on and
so forth... This drives crazy any user, sighted or not, and it's
a very very common problem with ASCII files that are moved from
one system to another, slightly different, computer. ASCII CR,
and LF characters are used differently and produce different
results whether your computer is running DOS/Windows, Linux, or
MacOS.

Because, frankly, I don't trust MS-Word to do anything properly.
And MS-Word may or may not properly read ASCII files created on
a Linux/Unix machine. And because it's only a matter of time
before MS tries to entirely shut out Linux users -- you can bet
that Redmond will try, sooner or later, to play some dirty tricks
on Linux-generated files... even if they are ASCII. Remember:
Microsoft is not in software for the good of its users. It is
publishing software to make mucho $$$.

Because straight-ASCII may not be sufficient for people who use
diacritical signs, which is 90% of the world outside of the
United States. Think, for instance, of Spanish/French/German
speakers, to name a few, who use acute, grave or umlaut accents
all the time. Accents in ASCII? No way, Jose! You just have to
use HTML or RTF for this. Trivial question? I don't think so.
In some languages (French, for instance) one accent can make a
whole lot of difference in the final meaning of a sentence...

Finally, because this is a problem I run in all the time! Is that
enough reason for you? <g>

I know some of the functions I described may not concern too many
people out there -- but for those who are concerned, like me, such
a utility is simply invaluable. I am a Technical Writer, and I have
to work with several vision-handicapped and non-handicapped users.
I can't afford to shut out one part of my users to please the other.
(See above).

> Now, LaTeX to Word, via a route which wouldn't lose any of the
> mark-up, would be useful.

I think you probably need to have a look at this page, then:
http://tug.org/utilities/texconv/textopc.html

Hope this helps! <g>

Take care!

/----------------------------------------------------\
| Gil Andre -- Technical Writer -- gandre arkeia com |
|        Knox Software: http://www.arkeia.com        |
|A bug in the code is worth two in the documentation.|
\----------------------------------------------------/





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