[TUHS] It is time to modernise "groff"

Larry McVoy lm at mcvoy.com
Wed Sep 6 00:14:34 AEST 2017

On Tue, Sep 05, 2017 at 07:37:16AM -0400, Doug McIlroy wrote:
> > > p) Remove the '-a' option (the ASCII approximation output).
> > 
> > I didn't even know this existed.  Looking at what it spits out, I find
> > myself wondering what good it is.  Is this for Unix troff compatibility?
> > For people who didn't even have glass TTYs and needed to imagine what
> > the typeset output would look like?
> Here's a classic use:
> Since groff is not WYSIWYG, the experimental cycle is long:
> edit - save - groff - view. In many cases that cycle can be
> short-circuited by typing straight into groff -a.

If that is the one that makes pic try to do stuff in ascii I've used
that a lot in the days of yore.

I've found, maybe it's no longer true, but back when I was at Sun 25
years ago, that I got farther with execs if I formatted my stuff two
ways: as postscript (or PDF today) and as ascii.  I would send the
ascii version with a header that said "Read this, this is what I 
was babbling about, there is a printable version attached".

It was crazy but my influence with the execs went way up and I came
to the conclusion they didn't read attachments.

That's probably all changed, everyone has a mailer that formats
html and people send their stuff that way.

But there's another use for -a.

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