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Re: "Writing my PhD using groff"

From: G. Branden Robinson
Subject: Re: "Writing my PhD using groff"
Date: Sat, 23 Jul 2022 21:08:01 -0500

At 2022-07-23T18:30:22-0700, Larry McVoy wrote:
> I was program committee chair for Linux Expo in 1999.  Sounds like I was
> a big deal but what it really meant was I had to format the proceedings
> (I was not a big deal, just someone willing to do work).  LaTex had
> won by then, but not in my mind, so I encouraged people to use groff,
> I said it is faster, easier, just try it.
> One of the people that tried groff came up to me and told me how great
> groff was, how easy it was, how fast it, how much they liked more
> than LaTex.
> Sadly, almost all of the papers were submitted in LaTex.  I think the
> reasons were

[reorganizing this a bit]

> (b) troff was locked up and the docs were locked for a long time.

I don't think the lack of availability of troff source mattered much
since groff had been out for 10 years by then, but the lack of
documentation surely did.  I don't think Trent Fisher contributed the
first cut of our Texinfo manual for another few years, and creating
replacements for the original CSRC ms papers documenting various aspects
of the system is a project that remains underway (hence why I went
looking for Ted Harding recently).

> (a) the two pass thing so you could easily do a table of contents and

You can _do_ the table of contents in one pass; relocating it to the
front matter requires either a second pass or a post-processing tool.
An index is a much bigger pain because it has to be sorted.

I can use this as an excuse to share my updated version of Larry
Kollar's document for the first time in more than a year, I think.
It is very nearly to the point where I'm happy with it.  The only gap
remaining that I know of is that I need to experiment with Keith
Marshall's new XH/XN macros (for table of contents entries, as it
happens), which are more functional than 4.2BSD ms's XS/XA/XE but
presently documented only in groff_ms(7), then write them up.  I'll do
my usual thing of aligning the 3(!) copies of our ms documentation
(this, the man page, and our Texinfo manual).

But it's really, really close to "done".  Which means it's a good time
to solicit feedback and find out how much farther it _really_ has to go.




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