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Re: [Groff] groff v. TeX

From: Larry Kollar
Subject: Re: [Groff] groff v. TeX
Date: Thu, 12 Oct 2006 14:21:55 -0400

John Poltorak wrote:

Can anyone explain what the differences are between groff and TeX and
which, if either would be most suitable for producing a magazine?

They're both typesetters that use plain text files with embedded markup to produce output. Both use macro packages to avoid dealing with the raw language. Both do a better job of typesetting than other Free or commercial offerings (with the possible exception of InDesign and the real top-shelf typesetters). In general, these are the differences as I see them:

* groff is faster; TeX's typesetting is a bit better (especially math)

* groff uses a combination of in-line and whole line markup; TeX is in-line only

* TeX's markup is more verbose

* LaTeX, the most popular macro package for TeX, severely restricts the type of page layouts and styles; groff is somewhat less restrictive

* groff outputs a wider variety of media: PS, PDF, HTML, and text; TeX is primarily PS and PDF, although there are external conversion scripts for HTML

I'm not which which (if either) would be most suitable for producing a magazine -- they tend to not have a consistent layout from page to page, and you'll have to write some macro magic to flow text around pictures, sidebars, and so forth. For anything else, it comes down to which one that works best for you & your needs. I learned *roff near the beginning of my technical writing career, and I recently switched back to groff from FrameMaker. It takes one or two minutes to produce PDFs for a 4-volume set of documents running over 750 pages, a job that literally took an entire afternoon on my old computer running Frame & would still need nearly an hour to complete on the new computer.

Larry Kollar     k  o  l  l  a  r  @  a  l  l  t  e  l  .  n  e  t
Unix Text Processing: "UTP Revival"

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