[TUHS] TeX/troff/typesetting markups - Re: SunOS 4 documentation

Toby Thain toby at telegraphics.com.au
Sun Apr 16 01:09:15 AEST 2017

On 2017-04-15 10:23 AM, Michael Kerpan wrote:
> Comparing documents produced by Heirloom troff and modern versions of
> LaTeX, I just can't see a huge difference. The main thing TeX has going
> for it is LyX, which makes composing documents a whole lot more
> comfortable for folks raised on WYSIWYG. If a tool like that was
> available for troff...

I'm not only talking about the _output_. But my intention isn't to 
denigrate troff but to show that they are completely different animals. 
A glance through the TeXbook would confirm.

TeX is a complete domain-specific language, page model, and runtime 
environment (without even discussing its layered frameworks like LaTeX). 
I admit it took me a few weeks or months of study back in the late 1980s 
to understand this distinction; previously I had been using a 
troff-level markup (perhaps even troff-inspired) on Mac called 
"JustText", which generated PostScript of course.

One _can_ typeset books in both troff and TeX, but that doesn't make 
them at all equivalent. The process and possibilities are different. For 
example, that simple task of producing two different output formats from 
the same manuscript, that I mentioned upthread, is made possible by TeX 
macros. But the sophistication of its page model is also required for 
any nontrivial layout, table, diagram, math, or just typographic 

Some projects _have_ tried to replace TeX. 


> Mike
> On Apr 14, 2017 6:24 PM, "Toby Thain" <toby at telegraphics.com.au
> <mailto:toby at telegraphics.com.au>> wrote:
>     On 2017-04-14 9:56 AM, Michael Kerpan wrote:
>         Of course, these days, there's a version of troff that borrows TeX's
>         layout rules, while also adding vastly improved font handling,
>         support
>         for the most useful/widely used groff extensions, and more. Why
>         Heirloom
>         troff isn't more widely used is a puzzle for the ages.
>     No matter how far you tart up the former, Troff and TeX just aren't
>     playing the same ballgame.
>     --T
>         Mike

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