Re: how to add all latin (and greek) subscripts

From: David Starner (
Date: Mon Jun 30 2008 - 18:34:33 CDT

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    Plain text does a lousy job at "communicat[ing] and record[ing]
    language electronically", especially when you get into specialized
    notations like music and math. It's the wrong tool for the job, and
    extending it to cover them will likely just add poorly supported
    features. In some ways the worst thing about any sufficiently complex
    format is when a feature is promised, but it turns out that when it's
    used, half the systems don't read it properly. Unicode, unfortunately,
    has that problem, but there's no need to exacerbate it.

    Rich text formats come and go, but so does everything. The worst rich
    text formats, IMO, are the ones that were created by people who
    thought plain text was good enough, but then kludged in markup for
    italics, bold, page numbers, whatever was need that day; it's almost
    invariably ambiguous, and undocumented. In a thousand years, HTML
    will be understandable, courtesy of printed books still stored in

    I think your claims for plain text are overstated; many documents have
    non-plain text details that make them worth saving. "Flatland" is a
    most odd book sans illustrations, and a volume of Rembrandt's
    paintings is ludicrous in plain text. "A First Course in Real
    Analysis" can not be preserved in plain text; if you think you have,
    you've invented yet another of those ad-hoc not-quite-plain text
    formats. (For example, the math offered by Kirill Smelkov only works
    in monospace, which is a requirement above and beyond plain text, and
    it's not computer-parseable; too bad for the blind who hoped that
    computerized text could help them with mathematics...)

    Furthermore, while typesetting may have been specialized, that does
    not mean that other formats were plain text. Even ignoring
    mathematics, a quick look through my writing reveals that I use
    underlining quite frequently, and that was a feature often offered by

    I think that people should think carefully about how they use rich
    text formats. I do not, however, think that makes kludging Unicode to
    support all the features of rich text you think you need the right
    thing to do. It will reduce the reliability of Unicode and encourage
    the proliferation of undocumented nearly-plain-text formats.

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