Me and hypertext

That’s been a long love affair thus far. Still going strong.

The beginnings

My first encounter with hypertext was in 1993. I found a DOS tool that interpreted and displayed hypertext. What little I remember about the format suggests it has been an early precursor of markdown. At the time, I was user of a group of bulletin boards, and authored a text informing about said group. A floppy disk containing both software and text became a major giveaway at the group’s booth at some fair.

SGML and the bread recipe

Of course, I typed my share of HTML documents back in the 90s.

In 1997, my mother-in-law asked me how I baked my sourdough bread. I took that as an opportunity investigate SGML (on which HTML was then based).

SGML is a meta-format, similar to its later offspring XML. SGML is also a typical brain-child of the 90s: Quite elaborated, somewhat of a mouthful to fully comprehend and implement in software, not without beauty and bright ideas. From an author’s perspective, it is somewhat more easy to type than XML.

It became a labor of love, an exercise in joyful over-engineering. Where a mere recipe was wanted, I wrote down everything I considered even remotely important for backing sourdough bread. A 13 page manual resulted. Where a simple sheet of paper would have quite satisfies my mom-in-law, I rigged up a multi-media platform, generating HTML and PDF from the same SGML source.

Developers hate documenting? I actually enjoy organizing knowledge into text. I did then, and I still do.

SGML is rarely used these days, but the software is still available. As of Debian Strech 2018, my old multi-media platform still works, essentially unchanged for 20 years. The material continues to be available on my web page. Its canonical URI has changed only twice in 20 years: First, when I obtained my personal domain. Then again some months ago, when I upgraded my sites from HTTP to HTTPS.


Markdown and YAML

Dr. Andreas Krüger, Herweghstr. 13, 12487 Berlin, Germany,