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Re: [Groff] Letterspacing

From: James K. Lowden
Subject: Re: [Groff] Letterspacing
Date: Thu, 27 Mar 2014 23:15:24 -0400

On Thu, 27 Mar 2014 19:29:13 -0400
Peter Schaffter <address@hidden> wrote:

> Would it not make more sense to have groff, more or less as-is,
> shoulder more of the burden of what we do manually, *using the same
> strategies*, to achieve better *lines*, rather than focussing on
> the whole paragraph?

This is an excellent idea.  Your key insight is that what you do by hand
could be automated with very little impact on the overall system, to
useful effect.  I doubt it's been fully explore  because the problem of
"how to set a paragraph" is considered solved, by TeX.  

It occurs to me that an algorithm that aims only at a better line -- for
some value of "better" -- is at a disadvantage versus the
paragraph-at-once approach.  In considering a line, a per-line
algorithm cannot steal letters from the previous line, the one already
set.  The best it can do is pack more letters on the current line.  

That might be OK.  It's what you do (IIUC) manually, because too much
whitespace is the major bugaboo.  

It also might be improved by a lookahead rule: rather than looking
strictly at the current line, consider the potential impact on the next
one, and perhaps "donate" a character or two to the line yet to come.  


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