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Re: [Groff] The case against the case against .EX/.EE & .DS/.DE

From: Eric S. Raymond
Subject: Re: [Groff] The case against the case against .EX/.EE & .DS/.DE
Date: Thu, 28 Dec 2006 18:07:13 -0500
User-agent: Mutt/

Gunnar Ritter <address@hidden>:
> > I have been translating it as an
> > unfilled block, with a <literallayout> tag -- that's what the examples
> > in my corpus seem to want, and the meaning it has in mm.  It differs
> > from .EX/.EE only in that it doesn't force the font to CW.
> Then I do not understand why you deem it necessary, given that
> .EX is introduced. A plain .nf would just do the same?

I've previously said I don't know whose historic Unix manual pages
used .DS/.DE, but I'm pretty sure it entered somebody's man package
from mm.  In mm, it's supposed to be possible to use nested .DS/.DE
calls to stack indented display blocks, the way you can use .RS to
stack indented filled text.

There are pages that actually want this, and others (such as emacs.1)
that could get rid of a nasty tangle of .ti and .in calls if they had
it.  Plain .nf gives you neither indentation nor the stacking effect.

In translating to DocBook, these indented displays would be 
rendered with various nestings of <blockquote> and <literallayout>
tags.  I don't presently do this, because I don't presently notice
whether .DS has an indent argument or not -- but if .DS with optional
indent were in man I could support that in about ten minutes flat.

In proposing these two ratifications of historic practice, I was
trying to find ways to get rid of the largest possible numbers of
the low-level troff calls in my corpus.  I believe .EX/.EE is the
clear winner here (it would nuke essentially all uses of .ft CW, 
for starters), followed by .DS/DE.  There is then a very sharp
drop-off before we get to some other possibilities, which I will now
list for illustrative purposes.

.TP++ or .TQ

Looks like a normal paragraph break, but continues a .TP list.
Generally people just use .sp for this, which is why .sp may be
the only low-level request that's truly essential for man pages.


To format filenames.  Nice -- doclifter recognizes the Ultrix extension --
but not necessary for doclifter as it is quite capable or recognizing
filenames without that clue.
                <a href="";>Eric S. Raymond</a>

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