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Re: man pages & info prefer HTML format

From: Arsen Arsenović
Subject: Re: man pages & info prefer HTML format
Date: Sun, 24 Sep 2023 14:47:32 +0200

Dennis German <> writes:

> After the  years and fine tuning of basic HTML, why aren't the man pages
> standardized to HTML format?
> Perhaps some users don't frequently enough reference man pages as they should
> and fewer use info , but (nearly) everyone uses a browser.
> And I don't mean programmatically simply wrapping the man page in HTML.
> The ability to
>      1) wrap text ( not truncate a line with a hyphen and place the
>    last 4 or 5 characters on the next line) and let the user decide the
>    width of the window
>      2) embed links (rather than "see also")
>      3) use basic fonts to render variables, command name, keywords, 
>    description and clarify optional and alternatives (rather than the
>    noisy apostrophes, *<* and*>* which also take of space)

Note, again, that this is by no means intrinsic to Texinfo-based
manuals, but to the Info format.  See in comparison
with (gcc) Optimize Options, for instance.

>      4) show the user much more information the first and every page
>    (rather than needing multiple lines for the simplest keyword
>    description)

I can't speak of man-pages, since I only use them in lack of better
manual formats (which is nearly any other manual format), but this is a
well-known potential point of improvement to Texinfo, to the point where
the Texinfo devs have been toying with a webkit-based info viewer.  See

I've also been considering altering Gentoo to install HTML manuals and
generate a HTML directory file for the manuals, as well as inserting
sane styles.  This wouldn't be as complete a solution as but
it would be a start.

> HTML is superior than the current format and easily customizable in width, 
> font
> size and colors by the reader.

... but, it is significantly harder to render.  I believe there's a
better middle-ground, as I've mentioned in my other email.

Note that HTML manuals would have some of the current issues man has
(with it being too 'raw', e.g. lacking index entries, and being too
focused on format rather than content, hard to restyle without altering
the actual manuals, ...), but it's reasonable to render manuals in HTML.

> Thank you for your consideration,
> Dennis German

Arsen Arsenović

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