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Re: [Groff] Eric Raymond on groff and TeX

From: Dorai Sitaram
Subject: Re: [Groff] Eric Raymond on groff and TeX
Date: Thu, 3 May 2012 08:51:29 -0700 (PDT)

I think esr is emphasizing (!) that in a structural-markup language the tags 
can have no typographic meaning whatsoever.  
While it may be possible to mimic the tags of structural markup in a 
presentation-markup language, there is power in completely and firmly 
separating the two aspects: you can then independently develop the two aspects; 
indeed the typographic aspect can come to embrace completely new and even 
unexpected media whereas the structural aspect remains the same.  
If you tie yourself to a presentation-markup language, there is no guarantee 
that a user has not made use of the presentation-markup language in such a way 
that it is impossible to migrate cleanly to a different structural markup or 
presentation.  Indeed, it has been the norm for users to reach for low-level 
commands while using high-level packages in groff or (La)TeX.  Neither system 
prevents the user in any way from being "non-structural".

>From: Anton Shepelev <address@hidden>
>To: address@hidden 
>Sent: Thursday, May 3, 2012 11:21 AM
>Subject: [Groff] Eric Raymond on groff and TeX
>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
>    so:
>        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
>    formatter.
>    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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