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[Groff] Eric Raymond on groff and TeX

From: Anton Shepelev
Subject: [Groff] Eric Raymond on groff and TeX
Date: Thu, 3 May 2012 19:21:06 +0400

I  accidently  came  upon what seems to me an unfair
judgement about groff and TeX:

    As an example: In a presentation-markup lan-
    guage,  if you want to emphasize a word, you
    might instruct the formatter to  set  it  in
    boldface.  In  troff(1) this would look like

        All your base
        .B are
        belong to us!

    In a structural-markup language,  you  would
    tell the formatter to emphasize the word:

        All your base <emphasis>are</emphasis> belong to us!

    The  "<emphasis>" and </emphasis>in the line
    above are called markup tags, or  just  tags
    for short. They are the instructions to your

    In a structural-markup language, the  physi-
    cal  appearance  of the final document would
    be controlled by a stylesheet .  It  is  the
    stylesheet  that  would  tell  the formatter
    "render emphasis as a font change  to  bold-
    face".  One  advantage  of structural-markup
    languages is that by changing  a  stylesheet
    you  can globally change the presentation of
    the document (to use  different  fonts,  for
    example)  without having to hack all the the
    individual instances of (say) .B in the doc-
    ument itself.


Should  we, maybe, ask the author to correct it, for
I think, groff and TeX macro packages do  provide  a
means  for  structural mark-up, and, considering the
example above, it is of course possible to  redefine
the  macro  .B  to  achieve the desired result?  For
clarity, it could also be renamed as "EMPH".

In my understanding, a package  provides  both  con-
structs  for  structural mark-up and means to modify
their underlying "presentation", and the one is very
loosely  coupled  with the other, allowing to change
"presentation" without affecting the "structure" and
vice versa...


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