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Re: [Groff] Future direction of groff

From: Clarke Echols
Subject: Re: [Groff] Future direction of groff
Date: Tue, 04 Feb 2014 20:49:46 -0700
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On 02/04/2014 07:42 PM, James K. Lowden wrote:
On Tue, 4 Feb 2014 15:43:11 -0500
"Eric S. Raymond" <address@hidden> wrote:

I have to say, unfortunately, that I think the entire
presentation-centric model within which groff lives just about run
its course.  The future belongs to structural markup and stylesheets,
because of the requirement for rendering in multiple output media
including the Web.

Hmm, seems to me every document is presentation-centric, depending on
what that means.  Are you suggesting Postscript and PDF are not long
for this world?  Are we doomed to the eyesores produced by
lousy-browser ebook readers?

The one thing I thing we could usefully salvage from the groff model
is the notion of stacked DSLs for special formatting tasks - pic, eqn,
grap, chem and the like.

Yes, yes!  Say it, bother!  Rebarbative it may be, but at least troff
syntax was intended human beings to use.

Cutting them loose from their groff-centric assumptions and making
them generate more modern low-level formats like XSL-FO and SVG is a
groff2 I could get behind

Nothing stands in the way of another post-processor, groxslfo, right?
But then what?  What device recognizes that?  I know there's a
tremendous bunch of XMLy things, but generally they end up producing
Postscript or HTML.  The longer the chain, the more complex, and the
more difficult to promulgate formatting decisions.

I build web pages with XHTML and CSS, period.  I don't even use
WordPress because it's as inefficient and confining as Word is for
people who want "pretty" but haven't a clue about typography and the
ability to control exact page placement.

I build ebooks, printed books, white papers, special reports, and even
business letters using good ol' reliable groff (and troff before that
when I was still at HP).  I've even created artwork for manufacturing
printed circuits because I didn't have access to CAD softward!  And
the project landed Motor Magazines award that year for "Top 20 New
Automotive Service Tools" (I designed the electronics -- another
company did the mechanical stuff).

I'm quite content with groff, as-is (version 1.21).  It's perfectly
adequate for what I need to do.  I just wish I had more fonts to
play with.

As for electronic displays, being a technical user, I have a hard time
relating to the "ordinary" Joe on the street who wants "pretty" and has
no clue about type.  I don't have an I-phone, I-mac, I-pad, or
I-anything-else.  I haven't even owned a cell phone.

Just an old curmudgeon, I guess.


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