[sword-devel] Sword support of indents and line breaks

Peter von Kaehne refdoc at gmx.net
Sat Apr 13 00:48:14 MST 2013

On Sat, 2013-04-13 at 10:42 +0600, John Austin wrote:
> >>>> I've worked with many, many SFM texts, and they often do not follow SFM
> >>>> rules or play nice in a variety of ways.

And İ think this is the crux here. USFM attempts to separate content
from presentation, albeit not as effectively and thoroughly as OSIS. But
many users of USFM do not appreciate the concepts of separating content
from presentation. I have lost count of the USFM texts where I found one
or another structural mark abused to provide some display/presentational
info or, maybe worse, found certain structural content consistently
marked with some of the few remaining presentational markers, sometimes
arbitrarily employing different solutions from chapter to chapter or
instance to instance.

This is part of the course of USFM - particularly when produced outside
of the UBS/SIL circles. 

As a module maker I do not see my role in slavishly copying bad USFM
into OSIS, thereby bending OSIS in ways it was not intended, but will
question again and again, until I understand what the meaning of any
particularly doubtful construct is. Most of the time I get the response
I need, sometimes it needs some explanation as the concept of separating
content and presentation is a new one to many - sometimes I can feedback
my improved reading of the structure back to to the translators and give
them better USFM texts. And sometimes I clearly hit a brickwall. 

> >>>> All of this greatly
> >>>> complicates
> >>>> an already serious conversion from SFM to Sword. 

Indeed. But no one has promised us an easy job. And sometimes our job
entails to tell USFM producers that what they have done is actually
abuse of USFM. 

> I still can't see the argument for requiring that everyone call these 
> questionable instances paragraphs, and require that they must always be 
> marked up as such. Why not give the publisher the option of calling it a 
> paragraph if they consider it a paragraph, or else calling it an indent 
> if they think it will be more correctly understood as an indent? For 
> instance, many people consider that a paragraph should be followed by a 
> blank line (between paragraphs). What if I desire that this indented 
> line in my translation should never have a blank line after it, and that 
> it is an actual indent which is the content I intend to add- in order to 
> make my text more understandable? Then I should be able to call it an 
> indent. I would be very correct in doing so. Future readers of my OSIS 
> file would also unambiguously understand my intentions as well.

Matej has asked what the meaning of an indent should be in a reading
application should be. But more to the point - what did IBT make of
David's GoBibles which to the best of my knowledge do not contain any

We are all here entirely committed to preserving the text as faithfully
as possible. But this requires under the circumstances occasionally the
need to ask, give feedback re bad USFM practice and refuse to give up
until the meaning of every presentational construct is understood.

Wrt one point you made - that the translators inserted by hand every
single indent. I can believe that. All Bible translators I met are like
that. The willingness to crack your skull in the most mind-numbing way
in order to achieve what you want to achieve is clearly part of the
genetic code of a bible translator. 

It does not alter the fact though - someone has misunderstood
paragraphing and separation of content and presentation, someone has
misunderstood that the concept of a paragraph is quite abstract and by
no means has to require a half skip and a 3em indent, but could be
presented in all kinds of ways - whatever is most natural for a language
and script.


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