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Re: (off topic?) Docbook? Re: manlint?

From: James K. Lowden
Subject: Re: (off topic?) Docbook? Re: manlint?
Date: Sun, 27 Sep 2020 18:30:41 -0400

On Sun, 27 Sep 2020 00:14:47 -0400
Larry Kollar <> wrote:

> Complain about Markdown all you will, and use weird-arse corner cases
> to show it?s Bad, but GFM can handle a lot of everyday text.

If you limit the feature set to what markdown does, -ms macros are
readable too.  It's a little tricky to set up an auto-incrementing
register -- I always have to look it up -- and it's a nuisance to
separate paragraphs with PP, but SH, IP, I, B, and PP get a lot done.  

Obviously -ms lacks hyperlinks.  The things markdown lacks are too
numerous to mention.  

> OK, let?s move to *roff for a moment. It can do most of the things
> that DITA advocates tout: reusable topics, conditionals, variables,
> insertions, and so forth (you can get a *lot* of mileage out of .so).
> Most of the -ms macros that come before the first .LP or .NH are
> considered book metadata in DITA, so metadata is covered. What
> *roff doesn?t do is produce usable HTML output. Yet.

There can be no question that troff boasts a very rich input language.
Every time I point that out in the context of advocating its use,
someone says, "but HTML".  

I think the idea behind grothml is that one input document "just works"
with any backend.  A different -- and, I would argue, more
realistic -- approach would be a macro-to-HTML converter that worked
only for documents expressly written with HTML in mind, using only
macros and eschewing troff requests.  Such a document is, I assert,
easily converted to HTML and produces perfectly acceptable PDF.  

Almost any macro set you pick maps onto HTML pretty
well because they work at about the same level: they define gross
aspects of the document that are refined in terms of the target
device.  If there was a simple way to add a "class" and "id" to macros
(that would be ignored except for HTML) then a very
simple HTML tagged with classes and IDs could leave most presentation
choices to CSS.  

Any suggestions on how -ms macros could be compatibly extended to
include classes and IDs?  I've always found that aspect of my
"proposal" daunting.  


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