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Re: [Groff] mission statement 3

From: Dave Kemper
Subject: Re: [Groff] mission statement 3
Date: Wed, 26 Mar 2014 03:34:27 -0500

On 3/25/14, Doug McIlroy <address@hidden> wrote:
> As for real Knuthian line-breaking: when forced to use TeX, I
> typically resort to "/sloppy" mode to avoid the temper tantrums
> TeX throws when it can't do a good job.

I've never used TeX, so I'm not sure what you mean by this.  Are the
temper tantrums peculiar to TeX's implementation, or an inherent part
of the algorithm?  Does Heirloom troff's implementation of Knuthian line
breaking have the same problem?

> But my fundamental complaint about Knuthian line-breaking is
> that anything that takes 66 journal pages to describe can't be
> right.

Complexity isn't an inherent flaw: the problem itself is complex, so
simple answers ought to be regarded with more suspicion.  And for ideal
typography, it's easy to make the case that the Knuth algorithm isn't
complex enough, as it only deals with individual paragraphs, and not
how they interact with each other, with page breaks, and so forth.

> It is out of keeping with the Unix ethos of simplicity and
> generality--and with the "small size" of groff that the mission
> statement praises.

How much has Heirloom troff's implementation of Knuthian line breaking
increased its size?

> I have to agree that making it easy to incorporate new typefaces
> from disparate sources is an important task, nasty as it may be.

My feeling is that the quality of the line-breaking algorithm is something
that will be noticed by typography nerds, but the difficulty of installing
new typefaces is something that will be noticed by any groff user who
wants anything other than Times or Helvetica.  So there is some argument
that wider font support ought to be higher priority.

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