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Re: "Writing my PhD using groff"

From: G. Branden Robinson
Subject: Re: "Writing my PhD using groff"
Date: Sun, 24 Jul 2022 07:06:38 -0500

At 2022-07-24T03:17:44+0000, DJ Chase wrote:
> On Sat Jul 23, 2022 at 10:08 PM EDT, G. Branden Robinson wrote:
> > 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).
> I’ve never read the Texinfo manual; I learned *roff through Unix For
> People,[1] then various online materials maybe half a year ago. The
> turn-off for me was how cryptic all of the troff examples (from any
> source) I saw were, and how it felt like I was always fighting the
> typesetter to get it to do even basic things.

As someone who's done a lot of work on the Texinfo manual (and other
groff documentation) over the past 5 years, that is disappointing to

I would be curious to hear whether you think the situation has improved.

I'm attaching a document that purposes to both introduce the novice to
*roff typesetting and present all of the features of groff ms.  I'd very
much like to know if you think the examples would have been accessible
to you when you were a novice.

> If not for my strangely-intense desire to do things ‘the Unix way’, I
> would not have continued with troff to eventually find MOM (which I
> now love).

I have heard this sentiment expressed from many people.  I wonder if
Peter Schaffter's work kept groff alive through some rather lean years.

(Admittedly, the years still look lean for those who encounter only
final releases...again I feel that we are heavily pregnant with groff

> [1]:

This looks really neat.  I think I may want to get my hands on a
physical copy before the publishing cartel shuts down the Internet
Archive's digital lending library.  (In any lawsuit, predict a judgment
in favor of the rentier.)

If anyone should ever wish to write a similar book, I suggest loading it
with _Seinfeld_ references.  See attachment.


Attachment: the_human_fund-sheet.pdf
Description: Adobe PDF document

Attachment: signature.asc
Description: PGP signature

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