[TUHS] man-page style

G. Branden Robinson g.branden.robinson at gmail.com
Wed Nov 28 11:26:51 AEST 2018

At 2018-11-27T16:57:43-0800, Eric Allman wrote:
> > 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.
> 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.

The shortening also prevented associations with an ignominious character
in an episode of the original _Star Trek_[1], which would surely have
been especially bad marketing in the geek culture of the time.

> 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.

I'm thinking it was an even larger example of silly cussedness because
by then, weren't the mm macros considered the new hotness at AT&T?

> 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.

It takes a computer to beat a computer.  :)

Thank you!  I'll update the man page.  We seem to be finally be on the
precipice of a groff 1.22.4 release (knock touchpad).


[1] "Bread and Circuses"
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