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macros and annotations policy suggestion



With reference to yesterday's conference call
[Re: notes on teleconference, 9 sep], and in particular
about the discussion about macros, style sheets, etc:


I had the sense at the end that we all thought it would be useful
to come up with a definite spec for a simple macro facility
roughly equivalent in power to lambda-expression-expansion
(e.g. not necessarily allowing sensitivity to parameter-types
in the pattern matching, and perhaps having only one "namespace" for macros
without attempting to make some of them non-overridable),

which together with a simple "annotation" facility for semantic info or
rendering options,

would be sufficient to allow people to establish
conventions (sets of macro names and their intended meanings)
for which authors could write their documents,
so that they would render properly when used with various style sheets
consisting of bindings (expansion rules) for the macros established
by the convention.


This simple facility would avoid many (though probably not all)
of the complex questions and subtleties of macro semantics,
while allowing what we all see as their most important use.

The fact that sophisticated renderers could not be written directly
in the macro language, and that style sheets using only the macro language
could not be sophisticated enough to use heuristics to try to
interpret the meaning of documents not authored for a recognized convention,

might be an inconvenience, but would not prevent such utilities from
being written some other way, since the information they need to work
could (and usually would) still be present in the HTML-Math.


So I suggest that we try to come up with a specific simple proposal for
annotation and macro syntax to provide the above-described level of
solution to these problems, and then spend more time on these issues
only when these relate to proposed extensions to whatever simple,
good-enough system we've agreed on (or if we have second thoughts
about the adequacy of what we've agreed on).


(I'll try to find time to propose one possible form of it in a
few days.)


- Bruce