The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Monday, July 20, 2020

We're a long way from the halcyon days of ASCII-only text

Rendering text, how hard could it be? As it turns out, incredibly hard! To my knowledge, literally no system renders text "perfectly". It's all best-effort, although some efforts are more important than others.

Text Rendering Hates You

I don't know if I'm glad or sad I didn't read this article before rendering HTML into different formats. On the one hand, it might have completely discouraged me from even starting. On the other hand, I don't use the full span of Unicode characters in my blog posts (which I'm very thankful for, after doing all this work). But on the gripping hand, Lynx was doing a horrible job at formatting HTML into text, and what I have now is much better looking.

So let's see … we now have three hard things in Computer Science:

  1. cache invalidation;
  2. naming things;
  3. text rendering;
  4. and “off-by-one” errors.

Yup, that seems about right.

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