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Re: [Groff] groff HOWTO: need feedback

From: Ted Harding
Subject: Re: [Groff] groff HOWTO: need feedback
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 1999 17:20:07 -0000 (GMT)

On 30-Dec-99 Dean Allen Provins wrote:
> Eddie:
>> On Wed, 29 Dec 1999, Dean Allen Provins wrote:
>> Dean, could you please post a copy in ASCII or HTML? These I can read.
>> Also, for putting on our web site, HTML is prefered, or I can take
>> ASCII and mark it up for HTML with Groff, when we get Gaius' Grohtml
>> docs into the Groff releases, also in ASCII or HTML.
>> ------------------
>> Eddie Maddox
> I didn't realize that any mail list subscribers wouldn't have a printer
> filter for PostScript, or any means to view the PostScript (say via gv,
> or ghostview).  I apologize for that oversight.
> I can run off a copy as ASCII (using groff) but the pictures and
> equations won't show.  I haven't upgraded to the latest groff so have
> no means to generate HTML, but I'll work on that today/tomorrow.  As
> soon as I can get out something, I'll be in touch again.
> Dean Provins

I think a HOWTO has to be in PostScript in the first instance: it's
the only generally available output format which can display the
full repertoire of groff capabilities (OK, there's PDF, but the
only way to that from groff is via PostScript; TeX .dvi format
lacks some capabilities). And for sure, everyone should be able
to install ghost{script|view} if they haven't done that already!

We are in early days yet, and I think the important part is to
get the information into an accessible form. While it may be nice
to be able to view the HOWTO directly when browsing the groff
web site, it's not essential since the postscript file can
be pulled for later viewing. It is possible (as is done for
certain features in Gaius Mulley's devhtml) to convert certain
things (such as equations or pic diagrams) from PS to, say, gifs
or jpegs and pull these into the displayed web page as graphics,
if it is really desired to have the HOWTO viewable directly.
However, this approach of course means that many more bytes have
to be transferred, which may be unwelcome to people who have to pay
by the minute for their dialup connections.

That said, some comments on the HOWTO as it stands:

A HOWTO for something like groff is necessarily something of
a ragbag -- a collection of specific issues which the HOWTO
creator considers important, and can reliably cover. What is
essential is that those things which are covered are covered
simply and thoroughly so that a beginner can use the HOWTO to
achieve the desired effect. In that respect, I think (from a
first reading) that Dean has got off to a very good start.
I think that the Cyrillic section needs filling out with more
detail (and, as the person who supplied that information in the
first place, I shall try to provide a more thorough account).

>From the practical point of view, for people who want to supply
feedback, I think the following are needed:

1. Line numbering in the HOWTO so that it is perfectly clear
   where the feedback is pointing to inthe document;

2. For the same reason, a clear and unambiguous "version
   code" for the HOWTO so that it is known what part of it a
   cited line number refers to.

The surge of positive active interest in getting groff
properly supported is very gratifying. Let's all keep the good
work going!

Best wishes to all,

E-Mail: (Ted Harding) <address@hidden>
Date: 30-Dec-99                                       Time: 17:20:07
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