[Smaug] CR/LF, wordwrap, newline & ASCII

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Fri, 14 Jun 2002 13:23:27 -0700

Quoting Paul Thomas (paul@cuenet.com):

> Right, got it!;) It was my previous opinion that what you all said
> was true. However, someone was trying to convince me that their Mac
> based Eudora saved to disk emails as plain text files containing
> only lines of text of some specified length without inserting any
> end of line control characters, that end of line control characters
> were old fashioned and that my text editors were inserting the
> end of line control characters, and that ^M may have been some sort
> of 'artifact'.

Well, now you're talking about a different thing.  


MacOS users share in a religious conviction that paragraphs should
"flow" (autowrap) to fit the containing window.  Therefore, standard Mac
text editors and word processors tend to insert hard returns _only_ at
paragraph ends.[1]  It's a viewpoint articulated in a manifesto /
technical style book called "The Mac Is Not a Typewriter"[2], among
other places.

This works fine when you're in a 100% graphical environment, but causes 
problems when you (the MacOS user) encounter the established culture of
the online world (e-mail, mailing lists, and Usenet newsgroups), in
which you're considered a rude, clueless weenie if you fail to fail to
keep your line lengths to well below 80 characters.  So there's a
culture clash, for starters.  And typically, if you ask a MacOS user 
how all this works, you get an utterly wrong yet self-satisfied
explanation, like the one you got.

But some MacOS software will insert hard returns at the ends of lines,
especially mailers and newsreaders (and any will do so wherever the user
presses Enter).

[1] Some packages on other platforms, including some X11-based Linux
mailers, do likewise. 

[2] http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0938151312/104-8818493-9139155

Cheers,   The difference between common sense and paranoia is that common sense
Rick Moen     is thinking everyone is out to get you.  That's normal; they are.
rick@linuxmafia.com      Paranoia is thinking they're conspiring.  -- J. Kegler