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Re: Learning troff - where to start?

From: Larry McVoy
Subject: Re: Learning troff - where to start?
Date: Tue, 13 Oct 2020 17:31:32 -0700
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.24 (2015-08-30)

I'd like to second this sentiment.  Learning troff itself is for people
who want to write macro package[s].  If you just want to format stuff,
you pick a macro package and learn that.

Personally, I've tried -ms, then tried -me, I went back to -ms.
-ms covers most of the bases and it is pretty simple to learn.  I think
there is another Larry here who did a -mom macro package that people like,
I've not tried that, I'd push you towards -ms and -mom.  And if you are
writing man pages, like Federico said, -man.

The O'Reilly book is still useful because it covers, I believe, all the
preprocessors, pic, tbl, eqn, maybe grap, and that's where you should
be putting some learning energy.

Have fun with roff, it is a *great* system.  I've been program committee
chair for Linux expo back in the day (all that meant was I formatted all
the papers into the proceedings), this was back in 1999 and mostly people
used Tex.  I encouraged people to try troff and the people that did came
back to me say "Wow, this is so easy and the formatting is so fast".  Yes
it is.

About the only thing I like about Tex better is it does multiple passes
so you can do forward references.  Troff makes that hard but it is doable.

Have fun!  Ask questions, we'll answer.

On Tue, Oct 13, 2020 at 08:04:10PM -0400, Federico Lucifredi via wrote:
> Hi Johann,
>   If you confined yourself to writing man pages, you do not need to learn the 
> whole of Troff, and you can limit yourself to a more friendly subset ??? and 
> copying from the many examples found on a *nix system surely helps ;-)
>   For man page writing, I collected the available resources in this blog post 
> a while ago ??? happy to hear about new resources.
> Best-F
> > On Oct 13, 2020, at 8:41 AM, Johann H??chtl <> 
> > wrote:
> > 
> > Hi,
> > 
> > I am just a casual dabbler who is somehow fascinated by text processing
> > 
> > 
> > I am using neatroff - It seems to be the most actively developed and has 
> > some nice modern features like paragraph-at-once formatting and utf8 
> > support out of the box.
> > 
> > 
> > Having said that, it seems that all troff implementations like plan9 troff 
> > or groff itself, seem to have no canonical, "all-encontained" 
> > documentation. All seems to derive from .. ?
> > 
> > 
> > So my question is:
> > 
> > * What would be a good starting point (tutorial) into troff and its core 
> > principles?
> > 
> > * What is the canonical documentation of troff all the existing 
> > implementations seem to derive from and describe their deltas in their 
> > respective documentation?
> > 
> > 
> > Thank you!
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 

Larry McVoy                  lm at     

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