[TUHS] [groff] Brian Kernighan on the evoution of eqn, pic, grap into troff

Jon Steinhart jon at fourwinds.com
Tue May 8 10:39:58 AEST 2018

George Michaelson writes:
> I always envied people who had invested the time to understand
> tex/latex. It felt like sitting next to senior wranglers in the maths
> department, or the students heading to the civil service exams. What a
> luxury: to learn how to apply cubic splines and bezier curves to
> design ligatures, in the least possible instructions using a special
> stack machine you designed to represent the ideal code, if you had a
> computer to run it, bearing in mind that because *aesthetically* you
> wanted your "o" to be slightly wider at the bottom than the top, you
> had to wrangle a function in, to decide how to do that adjustment in a
> non-linear manner given the scaling effects of applying the golden
> mean to the design.
> wait.. what were we doing again? Typesetting our theses? I can use -ms
> for that. If I want the left margin in one inch, I say 1in. Who really
> cares if the printer doesn't know whan an EM is?
> T/roff might have been disgusting, but so was RUNOFF which I was
> familiar with. So this is the classic "you can have it perfect, or
> have it next tuesday" moment, which I believe was J Pierpoint Morgan,
> who was in Zork, on the zorkmid, so I know it was a "thing".
> Mind you, slitex was pretty good. I kind of wish I'd learned that.
> Now, desperately trying to get papers into ACM and IEEE, I find myself
> leaning on my elders, betters, and wisers, to understand which
> \relax{} to do, and why. Its all greek to me.
> On Sun, May 6, 2018 at 1:36 PM, Steve Nickolas <usotsuki at buric.co> wrote:
> > On Sat, 5 May 2018, Doug McIlroy wrote:
> >
> >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TeX#Pronunciation_and_spelling
> >>
> >>
> >> Yes, TeX is supposed to be pronounced as Germans do Bach. And
> >> Knuth further recommends that the name be typeset as a logo with
> >> one letter off the base line. Damned if an awful lot of people,
> >> especially LaTeX users, don't follow his advice. I've known
> >> and admired Knuth for over 50 years, but part ways with him
> >> on this. If you use the ready-made LaTeX logo in running text,
> >> so should you also use flourished cursive for Coca-Cola and
> >> Ford; and back in the day, discordantly slanted letters for
> >> Holiday Inn. It's mad and it's a pox on the page.
> >>
> >> Doug
> >>
> >
> > TeX drives me up a damn wall sometimes.  It certainly is better suited than,
> > say, LibreOffice or M$ Word for what I do with it, but I still frequently
> > find myself butting heads with it.
> >
> > -uso.

IMHO, the tex language is too ugly.  I much prefer troff.  But, and maybe this
will be a retirement project, giving troff tex's two-dimensional layout smarts
so that widows and orphans don't have to be handled manually would be nice.

Remember, we're lucky that Don didn't work on X Windows because he would
have called it Ech.


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