[TUHS] man-page style

Eric Allman tuhs at eric.allman.name
Wed Nov 28 10:57:43 AEST 2018

On 2018-11-27 4:36 PM, G. Branden Robinson wrote:
> Hi Eric,
> I've been working on groff, and a while back, amid tidying up the
> groff_me(7) man page, I added the following to the Notes section:
> .
> It is not known for certain what the \(lqe\(rq in \(lqme\(rq stands for,
> but one can infer a derivation from the first initial of Eric P.\&
> Allman (then of the University of California), who wrote the original
> technical papers documenting the package.
> .
> I've done some digging but could not locate an authoritative statement.
> Would you like to make one?

That's basically correct, but there is a back story.  When I started
writing the -me macros it began as something in my private tree (I don't
remember what I called it).  Then some other folks on the INGRES project
wanted to use it, but our system admin at the time didn't want to dicker
with the system namespace at the behest of a mere undergraduate, so he
didn't like anything that was actually descriptive lest people think it
was "official".  He finally consented to "-meric" (which I always
hated), since it was obviously non-official.  By the time my macros
became popular around Berkeley it got shortened to "-me", much to my relief.

Of course, if AT&T had been willing to let Berkeley have -ms then most
likely -me would never have happened at all.  Without a macro package,
nroff/troff is basically unusable; -me stepped into the vacuum.

Amusingly enough, one of the most popular features of -me was ".th"
mode, which set all the parameters to match the official constraints for
a U.C. Berkeley Ph.D. thesis.  It was guaranteed to get past the "dragon
lady" who would reject the thesis if the margins were wrong.


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