Every few months I get a question (or two) from new users of AFT. I have no idea how many people are using AFT, but it is part of the Debian and FreeBSD software archives so it is very easy to download and install on those systems.
This search indicates that there are at least folks out there using a mostly unchanged AFT to publish documents to the Web. (They haven't bothered to remove the default advertisement).
I'm pretty much completely out of touch with Perl these days, so I am not very motivated to improve or extend the current AFT. The codebase has grown complicated and I wince at some of my awkward Perl techniques.
However, I do have a very decent corpus of AFT documents. I still use AFT to do general purpose documentation and then there is the previous mentioned cache of AFT documents that can be found through Google.
If I were to analyze this corpus, would I find a simpler subset of AFT that would do for most uses? And, if I identified that subset, is it time for a rewrite?
Frankly, I would probably do such a rewrite in AWK (or GAWK). I'd keep it simple and maybe make it a little more modular (shell pipes?). I would probably drop the Windows support (although it would still run under cygwin).
Regarding modularity, I'd probably develop it to run in two phases:
- A single AWK script to produce
- An intermediate markup for Phase 2.
- Or vanilla HTML for quick view or incorporation into a larger HTML/CSS framework.
- A translation from intermediate markup to HTML, LaTeX, etc.
- Similar to what I have now with the current AFT.
That would be sweet :-)