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Re: Readability of troff documents (Was: [Groff] Bug in gxditview)

From: Peter Schaffter
Subject: Re: Readability of troff documents (Was: [Groff] Bug in gxditview)
Date: Fri, 23 May 2003 13:38:58 -0400
User-agent: Mutt/1.0.1i

On Fri, May 23, 2003, Mohammad Razwan wrote:
> I would disagree that wysiwyg is the right tool for a complex
> page layout.  Ever tried putting a complex table together in
> M$WORD. Besides as I've already pointed wysiwyg is not the road to
> go down.

I suspect we're in agreement -- I didn't explain myself well.

By "complex page layout," I meant something much beyond what a word
processor can do.  For example, a department store catalogue, or a
colour insert in your local paper advertising this week's specials
at the local supermarket.  Lots of pictures, prices all at different
point sizes, text cutarounds, that sort of thing.  In short, the
kind of thing that professional designers and typographers typically
use Quark or FreeHand for.  I used to do those kinds of things, both
back when we had absolutely no wysiwyg or previewing capabilities
and later when graphical page layout became possible.  Trust me,
the latter is definitely preferable.

Go have a look at a videocassette box for a major motion picture
release.  Ask yourself if you'd like to produce the whole thing
"blind", all sides, pictures and all, in a single shot with crops
and bleeds for outputting to film, using groff (or TeX, or M$Word,
for that matter).

> We definitely don't need anything lik this.  I don't care to look
> at what is being produced, until I run *roff the final time on
> a document.  Sounds to me like another way to make my PC go real
> of the reasons I don't use M$ products.

I agree that "we", as in "we trofflodytes", don't need anything
like this.  But does open-source in general need something like
this?  I think so.  I don't see why designers and typographers
working in a commercial environment should be excluded from
open-source solutions to their needs.  Then again, I don't see why
the same people should be excluded from the advantages of
*nix-style text processing, either, without which I personally
can't live.

> Besides having to handcode macros and markup manually has the
> advantage that not only do you understand the paradigm but it
> keeps you in the mode of having to work to get something to look
> real good...

Not to mention that doing certain things manually makes the
inevitable changes that come in from fussy designers much easier.
I've always noticed that when using anything wysiwyg, it's
relatively easy to create acceptable output the first time around,
and pure hell to make changes later on.

Peter Schaffter

Author of _The Schumann Proof_, appearing fall, 2004
(pub. RendezVous Press, Canada)

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