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[bug #58796] preconv: want option to write traditional [g|t]roff special

From: Dave
Subject: [bug #58796] preconv: want option to write traditional [g|t]roff special characters where possible
Date: Sat, 25 Jul 2020 16:02:19 -0400 (EDT)
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux i686; rv:45.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/45.0

Follow-up Comment #1, bug #58796 (project groff):

Stepping back a bit: preconv is essentially a bit of a hack to address groff's
limitation of natively handling only Latin-1 input.  As long-term strategies
go, addressing this limitation in core groff is a better fix than patching up
the interim tool.

To keep existing pipelines working, preconv would have to exist in some form
for a while, but if groff natively accepted UTF-8 input (bug #40720), preconv
could turn into a simple wrapper for iconv, instead of being essentially a
reimplementation of it but outputting groff-isms rather than standard
character sets.  Fewer wheels reinvented.

And making groff speak UTF-8 shouldn't require wheel reinvention either.  I'm
no C++ programmer, but surely the language has standard libraries to handle
UTF-8, that would just need to be plugged into the appropriate places in
groff's input handling.  (I say "just" in complete ignorance of how big this
task actually is.)

Coders being in short supply here, it probably makes sense to devote this
limited resource to the best long-term solution.

However, I have to assume preconv exists at all because writing it from
scratch was once deemed substantially easier than updating groff's input
handling.  So if retooling preconv remains the substantially easier task, I
have no quarrel with the proposals put forth here.

(Since groff does speak Latin-1, I'm actually not sure why preconv need emit
things like \['e] or \[u00E9] at all, rather than the more widely understood
Latin-1 character those things represent.)


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