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18 February 2013, 13:55

More Perl in Texinfo 5.0

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GNU logo Version 5.0 of the Texinfo GNU documentation format is now available and is designed to be more extendable thanks to the new Perl-based converter. According to the developers' announcement, texi2any can convert Texinfo files to any format that is supported by texi2dvi and makeinfo. To use it, Perl 5.7.3 and its standard Encode module are required.

The new implementation replaces the C-based makeinfo and is intended to be upward compatible with its predecessor. The developers do point out that texi2any in its present form is noticeably slower than its predecessor, adding that they hope that "all the many improvements make the new version worthwhile for users nevertheless". Among other things, the new tree-based output structure is designed to simplify the addition of new backends, and a tidier code structure aims to make the program easier to understand and to encourage programmers to contribute to the project. The developers also highlight new options that support Unicode and provide a generally improved language support, as well as HTML customisation features.

Another important change affects the syntax: since @ commands are now recognised in raw format blocks, individual @ signs and curly brackets in environments such as @tex or @html must now be converted to @@, @{ and @}. Further new features can be found in the developers' release announcement.

Texinfo was developed by Richard M. Stallman as a markup language for text that needs to be easily readable online as well as in printed documents. The first version was created by combining BoTeX, a Scribe-like printing format, and Info, an online help format that was developed by Stallman. The converter that is required for Info was originally written in Emacs Lisp and then reimplemented in C as makeinfo in the early 1990s.

Texinfo is released under the GNU GPLv3 and is available to download from various servers.


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