[TUHS] earliest Unix roff
U'll Be King of the Stars
ullbeking at andrewnesbit.org
Sun Sep 15 17:32:25 AEST 2019
On 15/09/2019 07:54, arnold at skeeve.com wrote:
> "U'll Be King of the Stars" <ullbeking at andrewnesbit.org> wrote:
>> I've been wondering whether it is possible and worthwhile to use *roff
>> for complex technical documentation. I've always loved the aesthetic
>> that books produced using *roff have but there are other reasons too.
>> As far as _markup_ is concerned we have DocBook for example. I am also
>> looking into this. (Also, I understand it's not a typesetting system.)
> Unless you use a WYSIWYG tool that generates DocBook, you should avoid it.
> Your fingers will kill you.
Oh, I'm not looking for WYSIWIG or even really WYSIMIM. I'm well used
to writing in structural markup and presentation markup languages, e.g.,
LaTeX (which I think is extremely complicated, and since I left the
university environment I do not miss it).
AS for authoring DocBook I was depending on GNU Emacs to do a lot of the
heavy XML stuff for me. Wishful thinking perhaps.
> I have written books in troff, DocBook
> and Texinfo. Texinfo is *by far* the superior markup language.
I've had a feeling that Texinfo has been getting brushed to the side.
Are you suggesting that Info is a good as a rendered documentation
format? Or just that Texinfo is good for proto-documents that are to be
authored in a parseable and meaningful format?
I've been a long-time GNU Emacs user so reading Info files is OK for me.
But we've never had a _nice_ Info reader, which is why it didn't take
off I think. A lot of people REALLY hate the Info UI.
Moreover it was (is?) very difficult to generate good contents and index
pages with the official tools that I used at the time. I started
working on improving this about 20 years ago but back then it felt as
though the GNU Info and GNU Emacs projects had other things on their minds.
> Using Texinfo can generate DocBook which your publisher can turn into PDF.
> (I have done this, three times at least.) But working directly in
> DocBook just plain hurts.
OK, so you are suggesting Texinfo as a prototypical markup language, not
necessarily something that will end up as Info files?
I have read the Texinfo documentation and I agree that it seemed like a
rich markup language.
>> Getting back to *roff, does anybody know if there is a (hopefully rich)
>> repository of macros, or any other resources, for my use case? (La)TeX
>> has this but I'd like to try something else. What do people think?
> The MM macros are the most capable of the standard sets that are
> out there, although possibly the MOM macros distributed with groff
> are even more so; I have not investigated fully.
Thank you for the heads up. I never heard of MOM but MM is more familiar.
*I haven't really looked at eqn beyond browsing docs and I'm not sure
how much I should expect from it.*
TeX is (still?) the king of mathematical expression typesetting.
> My own wish for the next genie in a lamp that I come across would be
> for a texinfo --> troff translator.
Have you looked at Pandoc? I don't know if it will do this but it's
worth checking out.
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