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Re: Reformat help text source, creating some long source lines

From: Julian Foad <julianfoad_at_btopenworld.com>
Date: 2005-11-28 13:11:42 CET

Branko Čibej wrote:
> Julian Foad wrote:
>> kfogel@collab.net wrote:
>>> Julian Foad <julianfoad@btopenworld.com> writes:
>>>> May I re-format the source lines of the built-in help text such that
>>>> output lines are not broken over two source lines? The present layout
>>>> is so awkward that I feel it is stifling maintenance of that text.
>>> I'm not opposed -- your argument makes sense to me. Can you update
>>> www/hacking.html in the obvious way if you do this, though?
>> Thanks - OK - done - r17522.
> I wish I'd seen this thread before...

Sorry - I did rush it through a bit - but I don't think the change was a bad
thing in itself. We can now more easily edit the text to reduce the column
count if we want to.

In fact, the column count used within the help on different commands varies
quite a bit. Consistency wouldn't hurt. But, I also think a lot of the help
text could do with a jolly good overhaul. Making these things easier was my goal.

> Looking at this from the point of view of the typesetting world, there's
> no reason to introduce long lines in the source. Within running (roman)
> text, the optimal line length for easy reading is about 68 glyphs;
> anything wider makes it harder for the eye to skip to the next line.

Yes - 68 plus or minus 20 or so - it's not an exact science. Thus, this isn't
a compelling argument in itself for reducing from 79 to 68 or whatever, but it
does provide a "feel-good factor" if we have another reason to reduce the
width, and we do.

Also, in a shell window, in contrast to printed matter, we need to make
reasonably efficient use of the horizontal space available, so as not to use up
unreasonably much vertical space, so we shouldn't use a width much less than
around 60 to 70 columns.

> What I'm getting at is: shorten the displayed text lines, don't widen
> the source.

We could now shorten the displayed lines so as to bring the source back to 79
columns. In running text, that's fine. (On the occasional line that really
benefits from being between 69 and 79 characters long, such as some syntax
lines, we can either split the source or leave a long source line, whichever
seems best.)

- Julian

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Received on Mon Nov 28 13:20:32 2005

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