Re: The <PRE> tag

Rik Harris (
Tue, 24 Nov 92 21:54:37 -1000

Message-Id: <>
Subject: Re: The <PRE> tag
In-Reply-To: Your message of "24 Nov 92 11:19:44 +0100."
Date: Tue, 24 Nov 92 21:54:37 -1000
From: Rik Harris <>

timbl wrote:
> >  From: (Jim Whitescarver)
> >  The preformatted tag, PRE, unlike <PLAINTEXT>, allows anchors etc. to be 
> >  inserted in text that is already formatted.  It greatly simplifies the
> >  task of importing text from independant applications will anchors
> >  everywhere you want them.  In addition, we have a set of macros for
> >  MS-word which allow editing HTML in WYSIWYG fashion, but this also
> >  requires support of the preformatted tag in HTML.
> >  
> The <PRE> tag is important, and much better SGML than the XMP tag.
> I suggest that editors (including the NeXTStep editor, which I propose
> to fix) which read <XMP> should save <PRE>.  I have only one
> misgiving abou the format as is, and that is that newlines are
> significant.
> When you allow anchors and other tags to be put into the text, the
> lines can become very long, and most applications will want to keep them
> limited for mailing, viewing, etc.  As the PRE files you have
> currently include <P> tags for blank lines, why not put a <p>
> at the end of every line? This would make the processing of <PRE>
> almost identical to the default text processing, except for the font.
> I also wonder whether FIXED might be more apt than PRE.
> Any comments?

I think the <PRE> tag is a great idea, too.  The problem with not
having newlines significant is that it makes it difficult to do
indenting, etc.  One of the reasons the <PRE> tag is nice is that you
can take text (eg, manual entries) and not worry about formatting:



  -b   this option performs the blah command.  And if this line is
       reasonably long, I can demonstrate what I'm talking about.

  -f   this option performs the foo command.  Another annoying prob-
       lem is hyphenation.

This sort of thing caused me quite a lot of bother in the first
version of my manual page formatter.  If the newline is not
significant, then does it put lots of spaces between the 'is' and the
'reasonably', or does it join them with a space?  Also, if the new
break was to be between 'can' and 'demonstrate' (for example), how
would the browser know where to start the new line ('demonstrate').

The only misgiving I have about it is that you are formatting text for
a set width, something avoided in the past, but I think the value of
having good-looking formatted text outweighs this.

Rik Harris -
+61 3 571-2895 (AH & ans.mach) +61 3 573-2679 (BH)  (both soon changing)
Faculty of Computing and Information Technology,
Caulfield Campus, Monash University, Australia (soon moving to Clayton)