Re: support for setext, the structure-enhanced text format, in WWW
Mon, 26 Apr 1993 10:18:28 +0200

> forgive me for barging in on like this, infrequent listener on
> this list that I am, but I'd like you to cast an eye on a dis-
> cussion now underway in alt.hypertext, comp.text.sgml and several
> other crossposted groups, which may be of interest in regard to
> adding an ability to the WWW line-browser to recognize and access
> _implicitly_coded_ anchors in otherwise plaintext documents (the
> setext graphic markup method).

Ironically, a similar but different proposal called "simplemail" is
currently being discussed in the IETF mailing list devoted to MIME
(ietf-822). This is also based on common informal conventions used in
news today, like _this_ or *this*. Even more ironically, simplemail
was also started by some individuals who didn't like richtext, the
proposal for "simple" text formatting that was originally part of the
proposed MIME standard (it is now a separate RFC). Richtext looks
like SGML (at least superficially -- some real SGML gurus are offended
by richtext's claim of SGML-ness).

I'm not sure what the importance for WWW is, however. There's a niche
for simplemail and/or setext in the mail/news world, because many
people will see it without any kind of viewer, and many others will be
composing it casually without help. WWW documents are *always* viewed
by end users through an HTML-aware viewer, and HTML-aware editors
exist. Translators from setext or simplemail to richer formats will
appear when these formats really take off.

At least one of simplemail's authors is on the WWW list. (Bill --
where are the simplemail files now?)

--Guido van Rossum, CWI, Amsterdam <>