[linux-elitists] Seperating Content from Presentation

Mike MacCana mikem@cyber.com.au
Tue Jun 8 22:16:13 PDT 2004

Was going to not send this, as I doubt most people on this last are
really interested in anyone else's reasonings on this issue, but hey,
you're a reasonable guy...

On Mon, 2004-05-31 at 15:28, Ben Finney wrote: 
> On 31-May-2004, Mike MacCana wrote:
> > On Sun, 2004-05-30 at 17:28, Karsten M. Self wrote:
> > > Please set your mailer/editor linewrap to 68-75 characters.  I
> > > strongly recommend 72 as a good default..
> > 
> > Maillers shouldn't wrap at all. Wrapping is a terrible idea which
> > assumes one's audience:
> > 
> > 1. Reads their email in a monospaced font
> No, it doesn't assume this.  If the line-wrapped mail is rendered in the
> user's chosen font, it is no less readable if the lines are wrapped.

One line (with lots of i characters) is half as long an another (with
lots of ems). Sounds unreadable to me.

Most people would argue that consistent line width is better than
otherwise. In fact, I'd argue that people advocating unnecessary line
wrapping are doing so for the selfish reason that when such mail is
displayed their 80-character wide monospaced displays they have
consistent line width, everyone else be damned.

But hey, this *is* the elitists mailing list...

> > 2. In an eighty character wide terminal.
> Or wider.  

If the window is wider, the message still won't take up the room.
Unnecessarily wrapped email forces the recipient to keep their window 80
monospaced characters wide. That's kinda rude - like a web page that
ignores your font preferences (and yes, its an accessibility issue too).

> This assumption is better than assuming the MUA somehow knows
> the difference between a line that should be automagically wrapped and
> one that shouldn't.

Er, no. If a line is wider than the window it should be wrapped. 

> Remember, make the data smart, so the software can be simple.

Data with unnecessary line wraps is dumb.

* Keep data from presentation
* Don't assume users use particular client software 
* Don't overwrite users preferences

Consider: More currently maintained mail client have a chance of displaying your message properly if its in HTML than if its terminal limited.

And we all know how people that think they're clever like to pick on folk sending HTML.


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