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Re: [Groff] Eric Raymond on groff and TeX

From: Eric S. Raymond
Subject: Re: [Groff] Eric Raymond on groff and TeX
Date: Thu, 3 May 2012 13:41:57 -0400
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.21 (2010-09-15)

Tadziu Hoffmann <address@hidden>:
> > I think esr is emphasizing (!) that in a structural-markup
> > language the tags can have no typographic meaning whatsoever.  
> Correct.  What Anton was considering unfair is the implication
> that troff only does presentational markup, while it is entirely
> possible to use structural markup (with an appropriate macro
> set) as well.

Surprise, I'm on the groff list.  I've actually done a fair amount
of work on this suite, including for example adding support for eqn
to generate MathML and writing the pic documentation.

The rift between troff and DocBook-XML is that in troff, structural
markup is a rather strained and unnatural style that can never really
cover over the fact that the interpretation engine underneath is a
*typesetter*.  This is particularly clear near, for example, font

Because I wrote doclifter, which translates troff macros to DocBook
structural XML, I understand the width of this rift probably better
than *anyone* else. It is not a minor crack that can be papered
over with clever macro definitions, it's a huge gaping chasm that has
swallowed hackers whole in the past.

It took a couple of layers of compiler technology and about 200
cliche-recognition rules for doclifter to bridge that chasm; the
result is over 8000 lines of very dense Python.  So trust me when I
tell you that defining .EMPHASIS would only solve the least difficult
part of the problem!
                <a href="";>Eric S. Raymond</a>

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