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[groff] .SY/.YS, was: Duff's Device

From: Ingo Schwarze
Subject: [groff] .SY/.YS, was: Duff's Device
Date: Wed, 27 Jun 2018 16:13:09 +0200
User-agent: Mutt/1.8.0 (2017-02-23)

Hi Branden,

G. Branden Robinson wrote on Wed, Jun 27, 2018 at 09:16:18AM -0400:

> I'm in the midst of preparing a commit to make sure all the groff
> man pages have Synopsis sections that (1) use .SY and .YS (and .OP
> where feasible),

Must you really do that?

I'm still hoping that at some point, we may be able to get the
groff manual pages at least half-portable, even though that may
still be a long way.  Use of .SY/.YS is a major step backwards.

Usage of this macro pair is virtually nonexistent outside groff
itself, unlike for example .EX/.EE which has found moderate use in
about 10% of real-world man(7) pages.  Some time ago, i counted
real-world use of rare macros.  In the whole OpenBSD ports tree, i
did not find a single instance of .SY/.YS outside groff itself,
even though it contains about 10,000 third-party software projects.
Even on a Debian production system, i found it in merely 30 pages,
less than half a percent of the installed manual pages, with the
vast majority in groff itself.

That's the reason why mandoc(1) still doesn't support it.
Not because i'm too lazy to implement it, but because it is
practically unused anywhere - except in groff itself.
Implementing a dedicated macro pair for use by just one
program would badly violate the goal of simplicity.

It would be better to deprecate it than to use it more.
It is not part of the traditional man(7) language and never got any
traction durng the long time since it was tentatively added to man-ext.


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