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Re: [Groff]

From: Ted Harding
Subject: Re: [Groff]
Date: Thu, 24 Jan 2002 11:30:10 -0000 (GMT)

[Re: man vs texinfo]
On 24-Jan-02 Stewart C. Russell wrote:
>> Apparently, you don't use the latest versions, do you?  The keys are
>> now fully customizable...
> until it knows about the mouse, I will go elsewhere. The whole
> hierachical documentation thing is so counter-intuitive. Give me one
> big file any day.

I've been thinking for a while that the solution to this
issue is to write the document in groff with PS output,
using PDFMarks, which can be accessed when the PS file
is converted to PDF. (PDFMarks can implement all sorts
of hyperlink functions, including drop-down notes, jumping
around in the one file and returning to where you came from,
and opening other related files).

The man page could be, as it should be, a concise but
thorough reference for the usage of the command. It could
contain links to "PDFinfo" files for fuller documentation
(either of the whole thing or for details/examples of
usage -- e.g. how to use ms or mm macros).

a) Writing this comprehensively across the board would
   be a huge task (though just about contemplatable
   for groff);
b) One wonders how it would fit into the GNU man policy.

On the other hand, there are good practical arguments
for adopting PDF as the standard for documentation.
Compatibility with minimal displays (tty type)
would need to be preserved, but this would be no
extra trouble at all since "pdfmark" should be
defined as a no-op in the PostScript prologue, and
".pdfmark" can be defined to be a null macro for any
non-PS device. I don't know what one should do about
it in a dvi environment, since dvi is convertible to
PostScript/PDF by dvips/dvipdf, and I don't know the
technical details required to pass a PDFMark through

Another, and similar, alternative is HTML, but the
advantage of PDF is that the tiniest detail of formatting
can be preserved absolutely faithfully; where groff is
concerned this seems to me to be essential, and hence
I would not want to see HTML as the primary format
for groff man/info, since you can't trust a browser
to preserve the detail.

Best wishes to all,

E-Mail: (Ted Harding) <address@hidden>
Fax-to-email: +44 (0)870 167 1972
Date: 24-Jan-02                                       Time: 11:30:10
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