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Re: man pages & info prefer HTML format

From: Dragan Simic
Subject: Re: man pages & info prefer HTML format
Date: Mon, 25 Sep 2023 03:42:04 +0200

On 2023-09-25 01:25, Dennis German wrote:
@arsen: thanks for the reference to

@berny: ... man pages are available online in HTML format:

These pages are only partially in HTML format , not addressing:
#1 wrap text : They depend on <PRE> which prevents the user from
adjusting for their required width.

#2  links: Example: You can read more about the GNU extensions to the
DWARF standard /here/. here is not a link

#3a use BOTH color and less-than/greater-than .

#3b sometimes end up with confusing extra symbols for example in abidw:
• *--type-id-style <sequence``|``hash>

Since very many people us a "multiple window" environment having a
resizable, "slide_aroundable" web browser window on the same display,
in another window, as a script source or command line makes easy
viewing and reference.

With respect to ease of writing  the basic HTML tags are rather simple
to write and then there is the write once read many, many times

@Dragan Simic: I'd like to understand why you feel that
" ability to view the source as-is, with no rendering applied"
is important

First, let's remember that no web browsers actually existed back at the time when Unix was forged. There was even no GUI for a while. Thus, viewing files in their original form, with next to no rendering applied, or none at all, was actually the only way to view them.

These days, things are very different, but there are still many "hard-core" people who still don't use GUIs and web browsers very much, and it's their choice to live in the CLI environment instead. For example, I grew up in the times when GUIs were widely available, but I still prefer and have preferred CLI and shell simply because it's much more productive to me, and also much more powerful in my hands. I do use a GUI and a web browser, but I spend most of my time in the terminal emulator running the shell I've been using for 25+ years.

As a result, when I encounter a file using the shell of my choice, it's a huge distraction to me when I need to open it in a web browser to be able to see its contents. Admittedly, there are CLI web browsers, for sure, but using them has always been cumbersome and far from the effectiveness of viewing the files directly, or by using CLI tools that are made for the specific purpose, such as the man(1) utility.

Ideally, man pages should stay available in their current form, with no messing around that, with the additional web versions for the people who prefer viewing the man pages that way. As I already wrote, there are already many web sites offering the man pages that way, including Arch Linux:


Are there some issues with the current web versions of the man pages? Maybe, but I simply don't see them, because I use them very rarely that way. It's perfectly fine if someone likes to read man pages that way, and their energy perhaps should be directed towards improving the way web versions are generated, if you agree. There must be a way to fix the issues, for example those you already listed above.

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