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Re: [Groff] Future direction of groff

From: Clarke Echols
Subject: Re: [Groff] Future direction of groff
Date: Sun, 09 Feb 2014 13:53:24 -0700
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:16.0) Gecko/20121011 Thunderbird/16.0.1

My only use of macros was the man macros package when I produced the
HP-UX reference at HP, starting in 1985.  Otherwise, I write my own
macros to do what I need and they've served me well for over 20 years.

My first use of my own macros was when I used troff to create master
artwork for printed-circuit layout.  I designed a PC board for an
automotive service machine when I designed the control electronics and
didn't have a CAD system of any kind.

That's why I say (with tongue in cheek [non-Americans may not
understand that idiom]), you don't know troff until you've used it
to design printed circuits. :-)

I like groff and use it for all sorts of things.  I've never mastered
pic, and rarely use eqn.  Tbl is useful when I occasionally need it.
But that's not frequently.  I rewrote the tbl tutorial for HP because
the AT&T was too difficult for most users to make sense of because
there were so few examples with too little variety.  That was in the
late 1980s.


On 02/09/2014 09:59 AM, Mike Bianchi 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.  The MM macros are my presentation
format of choice, for the same reason.

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

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

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?

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