5 Feb 2003 raph   » (Master)

librsvg and batch formatting

It warms my heart to see librsvg thriving under the care of Dominic Lachowicz. I'm more of a starter than a finisher, so for me it's a sign of success when a project of mine makes the transition to a new maintainer.

There's one lesson from Gill and librsvg that I think generalizes to other projects. Looking back, I really wish I had done librsvg (a batch renderer) first, then tackled Gill (a full interactive editor). It would have been possible to attain useful results and a good quality codebase much more quickly if I had done that.

In particular, I think there's a huge role for a batch Microsoft Word formatting engine. There are a bunch of free word processors that can read Word documents, but given their broad focus and the difficulty of interactive GUI apps in general, I think it'll be a long time before any of them can open tough Word documents and format them perfectly. But for a batch formatter (with, say, PDF output), I think it's a very reachable goal. Aside from its obvious practical utility and value as a code resource, it would also be a great tool to test GUI word processors against.

Crowd estimation

Since I wrote about estimating the Jan 18 peace march in San Francisco, I was interested to see Lisa Rein's link to a Forum program on the topic. Among the guests was Farouk El-Baz, who is the author of the paper on the Million Man March estimates. In any case, the consensus now seems to be 150,000 to 200,000 people. The original SF police estimate, widely reported, of 55,000 was a gross underestimate. I'm gratified to learn that my own numbers are closer to the mark.

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