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Re: [Groff] Eric Raymond on groff and TeX

From: Clarke Echols
Subject: Re: [Groff] Eric Raymond on groff and TeX
Date: Thu, 03 May 2012 09:42:14 -0600
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:11.0) Gecko/20120412 Thunderbird/11.0.1

I'm not competent at TeX -- haven't even seen TeX source
files for years.  I refer to troff source coded without
macros as "in-line" coding (normal text \f3bold text\f1 normal
text) where fonts are defined in a macro file or at the start
of the document.

For HTML and other SGML-like markups, the markup reveals the
structure of the text being modified, hence <h1>text</h1> is a
heading, <emphasis>text</emphasis> changes to the emphasis font
(italic in this case), or <strong>text</strong> for bold, but
what actually happens is defined by the Document Type Definition
(DTD).  HTML is a DTD operating under SGML (Standard Generalized
Markup Language), which is an industry/government standard.

I tend to avoid the term "structural markup language" because it
can be confusing due to variations in how different people use it
when writing about typesetting and text formatting.

Macros come closer to "structural", but really aren't.  They're
more a shorthand method to save typing, and give control over the
end result by allowing programming a macro file -- thus allowing
different processing for different output devices, for example, or
being able to instantly change an entire document with a few changes
in the file instead of throughout a document.

I always use macros to some degree, even in a one-page document for
simplification of typing.  I don't use the usual MS, ME, and other
macro files because they don't fit my needs.

I also hand-program XHTML and CSS for website work instead of using
content-management systems like Joomla, Drupal, or WordPress.


On 05/03/2012 09:21 AM, Anton Shepelev wrote:
I  accidently  came  upon what seems to me an unfair
judgement about groff and TeX:

     As an example: In a presentation-markup lan-
     guage,  if you want to emphasize a word, you
     might instruct the formatter to  set  it  in
     boldface.  In  troff(1) this would look like

         All your base
         .B are
         belong to us!

     In a structural-markup language,  you  would
     tell the formatter to emphasize the word:

         All your base<emphasis>are</emphasis>  belong to us!

     The  "<emphasis>" and</emphasis>in the line
     above are called markup tags, or  just  tags
     for short. They are the instructions to your

     In a structural-markup language, the  physi-
     cal  appearance  of the final document would
     be controlled by a stylesheet .  It  is  the
     stylesheet  that  would  tell  the formatter
     "render emphasis as a font change  to  bold-
     face".  One  advantage  of structural-markup
     languages is that by changing  a  stylesheet
     you  can globally change the presentation of
     the document (to use  different  fonts,  for
     example)  without having to hack all the the
     individual instances of (say) .B in the doc-
     ument itself.


Should  we, maybe, ask the author to correct it, for
I think, groff and TeX macro packages do  provide  a
means  for  structural mark-up, and, considering the
example above, it is of course possible to  redefine
the  macro  .B  to  achieve the desired result?  For
clarity, it could also be renamed as "EMPH".

In my understanding, a package  provides  both  con-
structs  for  structural mark-up and means to modify
their underlying "presentation", and the one is very
loosely  coupled  with the other, allowing to change
"presentation" without affecting the "structure" and
vice versa...


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