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Re: [Groff] Future direction of groff

From: Denis M. Wilson
Subject: Re: [Groff] Future direction of groff
Date: Sun, 9 Feb 2014 17:34:13 +0000

... and my tuppenceworth

On Sun, 9 Feb 2014 11:59:18 -0500
Mike Bianchi <address@hidden> wrote:

> My 2 cents.
> I learned nroff/troff in the mid 1970s, and have used it, almost
> exclusively, ever since.  It is what I know in my spine.

I'm exactly the same.

>  The MM
> macros are my presentation format of choice, for the same reason.

I used MS ...
> But my criticism of groff, and HTML, TeX etc., is that presentation
> and formating are horribly intermingled.

I had the same criticisms as Mike, and had written numerous macro
packages, all doing the same things, so attempted to combine them into
one using the LaTeX model.  This resulted in my -markup package, which
I've mentioned before. It has Title, Chapter, Index etc. The quality of
typesetting is probably not that of -mom, but I have attempted not to
hardwire properties. As Peter will confirm attempting a complete macro
system is a lot of hard work. Our two efforts are completely different.

> By "presentation" I mean concepts such as Title, Chapter, Section,
> Figure, Footnote, Table of Contents, Index (still use permuted index
> via ptx), etc. "Formating" to me means how it looks on
> paper/screen/tablet, etc.
> To me the value of groff is that the _words_ are the most important
> things and even if I lost my ability to format past *roff documents,
> I still have all the words.  I can even recover many of the words
> associated with presentation concepts.
> Done right, a really great macro package would have to clearly
> separated parts: presentation and format.  But it seems *roff has
> never really provided the architecture to support that sort of
> separation, hence macro packages that mush the concepts together.
> And thus the long standing habit of tweaking the format with commands
> scattered among the words to fix the formatting errors.
> In an ideal world, I would write thinking only about the words of the
> text and their associated presentation concepts.  THEN, when sending
> my creation to the world, some automation would make it look
> appropriate on paper and all the variations of "screen" out there (on
> GoogleGlass?) without any further adjustment on my part.  (My best
> documents come close, but only because I am become blind to all the
> teaks inherent in the presentation macros.)
> I am not aware of any good examples of what I am looking for.  Are
> there?

Markup is an approximation. It does, however, need the attentions of an
expert in typesetting quality.  Those who have tried it have reported
problems with portability (eg the makefiles don't work on BSD systems).


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