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Re: Learning troff - where to start?

From: Ingo Schwarze
Subject: Re: Learning troff - where to start?
Date: Wed, 14 Oct 2020 15:06:10 +0200
User-agent: Mutt/1.12.2 (2019-09-21)

Hi Federico,

Federico Lucifredi wrote on Wed, Oct 14, 2020 at 08:21:49AM -0400:
> On Oct 14, 2020, at 7:10 AM, Ingo Schwarze <> wrote:

>> Finally, there is an obvious, rather serious error.  I do not think
>> misattribution should be taken lightly:
>>  the man macro package, originally written by James Clark
>> The correct statement is:
>>  The man language first appeared as a macro package for the roff
>>  typesetting system in Version 7 AT&T UNIX.  It was later rewritten
>>  by James Clark as a macro package for groff.
>> I'm not sure which member(s) of the Bell Labs originally designed
>> and implemented the man(7) macros, but it clearly wasn't James Clark.

> Interesting. As far as I can tell, the origin of that statement
> is in man 7 groff_man:

That document says:

  The man macros used to generate man pages with groff
  were written by James Clark.

That is correct.

You are saying:

  For man pages, what you need is knowledge of the man macro package,
  originally written by James Clark [...]

That is a blatant misrepresentation.

It is akin to talking about "the C programming language, invented
by Richard M. Stallman, ..."

Besides, your statement is also incorrect in so far as for many
projects, what you need is mdoc instead (even though it is true
that the Linux man pages project and several other software projects
still use the old man(7) macros).

Besides, the Ubuntu page you quoted is outdated, with an incomplete
AUTHORS section.  The latest stable groff release (from two years ago)

  The GNU version of the man macro package was written by James
  Clark and contributors.  The extension macros were written by
  Werner Lemberg <> and Eric S. Raymond <>.

This text was added in 2017.

Admittedly, it would be better to also credit the original authors,
not only the authors of the GNU reimplementation, as it is done
here, for example:

But what the groff_man(7) manual page says is not wrong.

> I have no insight myself on the original authorship,
> just quoting from the manual. 

You are misquoting.


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