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[Groff] tabs in non-literal context

From: Ingo Schwarze
Subject: [Groff] tabs in non-literal context
Date: Fri, 14 Feb 2014 15:17:01 +0100
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.21 (2010-09-15)


since a very long time [1], the mandoc(1) utility throws a warning
if an input file contains a literal tab character ('\t', ASCII 0x09)
outside literal context, where literal context is defined as

 - .Bd -literal    or
 - .Bd -unfilled   or
 - .Dl             when using -mdoc macros  or
 - .nf             when using -man macros

Now i suspect this warning to be bogus.  I checked both the
Ossanna/Kernighan/Ritter troff manual and the GNU troff online
manual and found no hint that using tabs outside such contexts
might cause any problems.  I ran groff with -Wall and got no
warnings.  I compared mandoc(1) and groff(1) output when using
tabs outside such contexts, and both produce reasonable results,
even identical results in -Tascii output mode.

Before deleting the warning (that was added before i got involved
with this area), i want to make sure i'm not missing something

Can anybody confirm that using literal tabs outside the contexts
listed above in manuals, and in .fi mode in roff in general, is
just fine, or can anybody think of any reason why literal tabs
should better be used in .nf mode only?

Thanks for any insight,


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