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Re: [Groff] space width

From: Peter Schaffter
Subject: Re: [Groff] space width
Date: Tue, 4 Feb 2014 11:32:00 -0500
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.21 (2010-09-15)

On Tue, Feb 04, 2014, Dave Kemper wrote:
> I understand the need for backwards compatibility, but I more and more
> find myself wishing groff had a global option to choose between "follow
> historical usage" and "be sane."  For someone in 2014 writing a new groff
> document, there is zero advantage to, for example, having calculations
> treat addition and multiplication as the same precedence, or any of a
> dozen other little pitfalls that exist solely for compatibility with a
> 1970s back end.

I have to say I completely agree.  Backward compatibility is
essential, but more and more, I wonder about future compatibility.
As far as I know, I'm the only person actively developing
a macro set for groff.  I can tolerate--just barely--the
contortions I have to go through sometimes in order to work with
a backwardly-compatible groff, but I have the advantage of my age
and an appreciation for the long history of (n/t/g)roff.  What of
future macro programmers, though?  How many who might contribute to
groff are going to shake their heads over what to them will seem
absurd anachronisms and simply move onto programming for something
unemcumbered by what are rapidly becoming absurd historical
idiosyncracies?  Is the absolute purity of backward compatibility
worth relegating a powerful and useful program to the museum?

Peter Schaffter

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