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[Groff] mdoc considered harmful

From: Eric S. Raymond
Subject: [Groff] mdoc considered harmful
Date: Fri, 7 Mar 2014 14:14:24 -0500
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.21 (2010-09-15)

Anthony J. Bentley <address@hidden>:
> Funny, that looks almost exactly like what you posted. Since -mdoc
> already exists, is shipped in man(1) with a great many systems
> (certainly all the ones I've ever used), and already has thousands of
> manpages written in it, why extend -man in a backwards incompatible
> manner? Any system which doesn't support -mdoc would certainly not
> support these new -man macros.

I've written an mdoc interpreter.  It's in doclifter. And I'm here 
to tell you why mdoc is not the solution you're looking for.

It's way, *way* overcomplicated.  Part of the reason is design bloat.
Part of the reason is attempts to paper over intrinsic problems with
the line-oriented model of groff markup.  Attempts that don't quite
work, inducing cascades of mdoc features that are in reality ugly
workarounds (I'm thinking especially of the .O/.X macro families here).

The result is pure hell for anyone trying to interpret the mess with
anything but groff itself.  I believe I am the only person who has
even tried this seriously.

I managed to handle almost all of it, because I am exceptionally good
at the kind of hacking required for the job. But not in fact all of it;
it's one of the major sources of the tiny percentage of pages that
doclifter chokes on and that cannot be fix-patched.

The effort required to get this far with mdoc was extreme even for
me. Thus I consider that effort very unlikely to be successfully
replicated - I doubt anyone else will have the stamina required.

mdoc has overelaborated itself into a hole.  It is an evolutionary dead
end, not a solution. 
                <a href="";>Eric S. Raymond</a>

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