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[bug #63958] [mdoc] decide how to set up hanging indent in Synopsis sect

From: G. Branden Robinson
Subject: [bug #63958] [mdoc] decide how to set up hanging indent in Synopsis sections
Date: Sun, 9 Apr 2023 16:17:08 -0400 (EDT)

Follow-up Comment #5, bug #63958 (project groff):

[comment #3 comment #3:]
> Besides, i don't think this has anything to with subsection heading
indentation (which is 3n in both mdoc(7) and man(7)) nor with base paragraph

I think you're correct on this point.

> (which is traditionally 7n in man(7) and 5n in mdoc(7)).

That appears to be true, when I "man groff_mdoc(7)" on my Debian-based system
with Debian's groff 1.22.4 installed, and I don't think they altered this

> Please do not change the mdoc(7) indentation from 5n to 7n.

Er, I have to disclose that I already did, back on 29 October.


It seems horribly wrong to me for man pages to format in different ways
gratuitously like this depending on the macro package used to render them.

This is one of the reasons I went to the trouble of bug #63046.

However, before you anticipate another conflict with me, I'm not convinced
7n/7.2n is something that should remain set in stone.

I see that McIlroy's 1979 man(7) implementation used a base paragraph
indentation amount of .5i, which maps to 5n on typewriter devices since a
default pitch of 10 (10 characters per inch) is assumed for them.

> I claim the 5n indentation is objectively better.  7n wastes too much screen
real estate.

That is emphatically a subjective, not an objective, assessment.  Confusing
these two is not a good way to build a convincing argument with me.

How does one measure the waste of screen real estate?  By counting empty
character cells in a terminal window?  On how large a terminal window?  With
or without adjustment?  With or without hyphenation?  If adjustment is
enabled, do only empty character cells outside the paragraph margins count as
wasted?  Most importantly, what percentage of empty character cells
constitutes the threshold of waste, and how is that percentage "objectively"
arrived at?  If a percentage is not used as the metric of screen real estate
wastage, what is, where is it documented, and how is anyone else to have known
of this "objective" metric?

>  The only reason i didn't reduce the 7n to 5n in mandoc(1) is groff
compatibility.  But mandoc(1) does provide an option "-O mdoc" which, among
other minor tweaks, implies "-O indent=5".

I see that I need to look up when and why groff changed to 7n/7.2n for man(7).
 Who knows?  Maybe it was a SunOS change that groff copied back in 1989
without making a lot of noise about it, like the the `SB` macro and registers
C, D, P, and X.

So I'll kick this back to status "Need Info" again as a homework assignment
for myself.

I may end up agreeing with you that 5n/0.5i is the right base paragraph
indentation for groff man(7) and groff mdoc(7) in groff 1.24, but claiming
that 7n/7.2n "objectively wastes too much screen real estate" is not going to
get us to a meeting of the minds.


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