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Re: [Groff] The future redux

From: James K. Lowden
Subject: Re: [Groff] The future redux
Date: Wed, 26 Feb 2014 22:55:31 -0500

On Wed, 26 Feb 2014 11:46:32 +0000
Ralph Corderoy <address@hidden> wrote:

> > > man pages don't really need expressive typography.  
> > 
> > Man pages are constrained by xterm.  A better display system would
> > invite tables, graphs, equations, and links.  
> I don't think they are.  Or they didn't used to be.  It was common to
> see man pages with `.if n' and `.if t', with the troff presenting the
> same data in better form, e.g. ASCII art versus pic(1).  man pages
> used to be commonly printed and high-quality output desired

Hi Ralph, 

Like Deri, from time to time I render a man page with -Tps, when I want
to look over it carefully or find myself referring back to it while
working on something unfamiliar or fiddly.  But I would bet 4 people in
5 who type "man foo" don't know there's a typesetter behind it.  

So many people are so accustomed to nroff output of man pages that most
web sites emulate its single worst characteristic, monospace fonts.
And the results are either comical or tragic:

Apparently you can have either acceptable formatting with monospace
fonts and forgo knowing what Å looks like, or you can see the character
while imagining how the page should be formatted.  :-(  

I submit to you that if our command-line environment weren't still using
1980s technology to emulate 1970s hardware, we would have more
graphical and unified documentation.  In other words, the terminal is
the problem.  

Luckily, the terminal is also the solution.  Or, rather, a different
terminal would be.  I call it VT-roff:

Just a small matter of programming.  ;-)  


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