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Re: Wanted: your historical me(7) documents

From: Dave Kemper
Subject: Re: Wanted: your historical me(7) documents
Date: Sun, 22 Jan 2023 17:41:59 -0600

On 12/28/22, Ralph Corderoy <> wrote:
> It lacks the clarity of ‘the default line length has changed
> from 6i to 6.5i’.
> It doesn't have the end user in mind who wants to know what affects him.
> It's long.  It puts the meat at the end so the user has to wade without
> knowing why.  This trains the user to skim.
>     The -me macros' line length is now 6.5i instead of 6i on a
>     typesetter as it is set from the device or papersize.tmac.
>     It remains unchanged on a terminal.

I fear the commit that simplified this wording
( may
have oversimplified it.  It now omits any mention of -me's new
responsiveness to paper size and orientation, which seems NEWSworthy.
Even the draft above from Ralph, who champions brevity above all else,
makes passing mention of it (though IMHO with less clarity than
Branden's original wording).  My complaint with the original was that
it failed to mention of the change in default line length, but it now
mentions only this and omits all else.  I hope there's a happier
medium here?

The draft below introduces the change in default behavior earlier,
addressing one of Ralph's concerns, but retains some of the lengthier
wording about how it can be overridden.  Perhaps Ralph will have ideas
for tightening it further without losing information.  (For
comparison's sake, it is now 70 words, compared to Branden's original
63, and the 29 of Ralph's draft above.)

  On typesetting devices, the e (me) macro package now derives the
  line length from the device description, which has the effect of
  changing the default line length to 6.5i from 6i.  Users can override
  the device description using the "papersize.tmac" macro file (usually
  configured via the "-d paper" groff command-line option), thus adapting
  their documents to landscape orientation or paper formats other than
  U.S. letter.  Terminal line length remains unchanged.

The last sentence is arguably unnecessary since the item limits its
scope to typesetting devices at the start, thus implying a lack of
change on terminals.  I feel, though not strongly, that it's worth the
extra five words to make this explicit.

The "thus adapting..." clause could also go in the name of
succinctness, though I like that it highlights the utility of the

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