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Re: [Groff] UTP ducoment translation, bloatware, and MS Offfice

From: Rob Scovell
Subject: Re: [Groff] UTP ducoment translation, bloatware, and MS Offfice
Date: Thu, 29 Aug 2002 19:48:51 +1200

Why argue about these things? It's like arguing the relative merits of articulated trucks and Honda Civics. They all serve a purpose. What the hell is wrong with HTML manpages? Somebody please tell me! Better an HTML manpage than no manpage or worse, one of those manpages where there are just empty section headings. Even if you're on a 486 without X, you can still view with lynx, n'est-ce pas?

PDFs are a good alternative to printed manuals -- don't knock 'em! (Although when I've bought an expensive piece of software I'd rather have a nice chunky paper manual to take to my favourite café than just a CD.)

You wouldn't look at a Honda Civic and complain that it won't carry your house contents across country, or moan about the difficulty of getting an artic into your garage.

I am grappling with groff because I have reached the limits of FrameMaker for something I am working on. However, I will still happily use FrameMaker where it suits, and (very reluctantly) Word where that suits.

I have many, many gripes against Word but we live in a world where lots of people use it. It is the de facto standard in business communication and (sadly) many other areas too. I won't waste space here by listing my gripes -- they would probably be shared by most people who care about quality software and typography, the reason why I guess most people on this list are using groff.

I would echo the sentiment, 'Don't confuse the users with the program.' Some of my closest friends, not to mention my wife, use Word, and I will not hear a word said against them! (Oops -- absolutely no pun intended!)

PS -- I know this is sort of meta-groff talk. Is that welcome on here or is it too way off topic?


On Thursday, August 29, 2002, at 01:48  PM, Larry Kollar wrote:

Richard Loken wrote:

I am reading the strangest things on this list today and I will cite them
out of context and without credit,

        "new material should not be written in troff"
        "disk is $1.00 a gigabyte and any CPU under 1.3GHz is obselete"
        "[re: mm docs] if you MS Office see..."

Say what?  And why are you saying it?

Man, am *I* ever behind on my email!!! (Moving does that to you.)

Why would I want an up to date troff documentation package if I am not writing troff docs? Why would I want to read these documents in HTML or PDF or Word
if I am writing troff docs?

Ummmm... if you're the only person who is going to read what you
wrote, you're right on. Otherwise, you might create a web site and
save yourself a lot of distribution hassle, or your Aunt Tillie
might want to read your novel and you can't remember what kind of
printer she has... or you have customers who want a manual on CD
along with their software. (That's HTML & PDF, but I can't think
of why anyone would want to make a Weird file. :-P )

I use troff because I can write what I want to write very quickly and I
can make major modifications in style and/or format in a fraction of the
time that a WYSIWYG word processor can do it. My wife and my daughter write their university papers in troff, they write them fast and check them fast and life goes on. All of this with a 75MHz Pentium and a Deskjet 500 and why
not?  They both work just fine and I got them for free from some ugrading
Windows victem.

Yup, I'm shifting a lot of my operations over to a 100MHz Pentium
laptop that I got for free (+ $130 for batteries, there's no such
thing as a free laptop). My main desktop machine is a 266MHz G3
running YellowDog Linux, and troff runs amazingly fast on it --
it cranks out hundreds of pages in seconds. I've said before on
this list that I would have given body parts for a system like this
in 1985. :-)

If somebody is so geeky that they want a PDF document then I grind it through Ghostscript and send them PDF. HTML? Whafor? It looks fancy and it can sort
of be searched...

HTML has its uses -- hyperlinks are certainly easier to do in HTML
than on paper. Paper is better for some thing, HTML for others.

HTML man pages?  That
illness is spreading through the Linux community at a horrific pace, why not
read man pages with man?  Man provides page numbers at least.

Again, it has its uses -- I've read HTML manpages when the regular
ones weren't available (away from the regular computer) or I want
to know a little bit about the program before downloading it. But
I'll admit to printing out manpages (especially longer ones) when
I refer to them often.

... I have another friend who wants
me to write some device drivers for ditroff under FreeBSD because he thinks
only pure Unix belongs in FreeBSD and Groff has strayed too far from the

I never agreed with them until today.

Huh. Don't confuse (some of) the users with the program, is the
only thing I can think of as an answer. Today's groff is so much
better than the troff of 1985, in so many different ways, I can't
even begin to count them.

Larry Kollar   k o l l a r  at  a l l t e l . n e t
"Content creators are the engine that drives value in the
information life cycle."   -- Barry Schaeffer, on XML-Doc
Groff maillist  -  address@hidden

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