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Re: [Groff] The ruture redux

From: Doug McIlroy
Subject: Re: [Groff] The ruture redux
Date: Tue, 25 Feb 2014 15:31:27 -0500
User-agent: Heirloom mailx 12.5 7/5/10

Being away from home with a mere netbook, I can't really
read Eric's and Peter's insightful remarks in detail. I
need to get back to a printer before doing them justice.
Presentation--at least page size and ease of flipping
pages--matters very much. "Semantics only" is pie in the

Consider presenting a little data, which basically
comes as a table. Do you print it that way? And if so,
do you print it by rows or by columns? Or do you print
it as a graph or a bar chart? With bars horizontal or
vertical? Portrait or landscape ... Some of these things
can be judiciously decided at presentation time, but 
some the author may really care about. And sometimes
the reader may want to play around with it. The latter
possibility is in fact the grail of the Unix approach.
Data should not be buried in some arcane encoding.
Two presentations are in play here. The input presentation
should be accessible and processible by unanticipated tools.
The output presentation varies not just with medium but
with author (and possibly reader) intent.

Another place where "semantics only" fails is in maps.
Nobody has ever figured out how without multiple
encodings of the data to produce a map of a single
house lot in the morning and of the global distribution
of rainfall in the afternoon.

We've heard of mom-only and mm-only users. I happen to
be an ms-only user. (Man pages excepted.) A lot of basic
style-sheet stuff appears as the value of number registers.
There's not really a gaping distance between ms and
style sheets--kind of like a small brook that's always
been so easy to cross on stepping stones that nobody
ever bothered to build a bridge. (Not that the bridge will
be easy to build. No doubt the structure underneath the
macros will have to be reworked.) Nevertheless, it's
a real testimonial that the very first document-level
macro package is still a viable tool.

Until I get to that printer,

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