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Re: [Groff] Regarding HTML rendering

From: Larry Kollar
Subject: Re: [Groff] Regarding HTML rendering
Date: Fri, 18 Aug 2017 08:26:23 -0400

Ingo Schwarze <address@hidden> wrote:
> ...
> Converting markdown into acceptable
> roff input is just not feasible - not only because there is no tool
> to do it, but also because markdown is just not powerful enough,
> even if you were willing to write a new program to do that.
> Besides, i hate the myth being re-iterated that markdown would be
> easy to use.  It is an extremely hostile, hard-to-use language
> because it doesn't have any kind of consistent syntax, but instead
> three strongly conflicting ones, so the rules for what any given
> input means are usually extremely complicated and counter-intuitive,
> and besides, there is almost no markdown document that is portable
> because the details of all three syntaxes differ from one implementation
> to the other, and there is no lack of conflicting implementations.
> For details why you should never use or recommend markdown as a
> source language for any documents, see

I have to disagree.

The key to success with Markdown is to find a variant that suits your 
application and stick with it. Just like any of us here would not think twice 
to use -man or -mdoc for manpages, and -ms or -mm for reference documents, I 
use two flavors of Markdown for two different things:

  * For fiction, I use MultiMarkdown because it works with Scrivener, the tool 
I use for my fictional works.

  * For my writing blog, I use Jekyll (a static site builder, uses 
Github-Flavored Markdown with HTML and
    Liquid extensions). OK, it’s if you have to 
know. :-)

The thing is, every flavor of Markdown produces squeaky-clean XHTML, better 
than any other tool or export I’ve seen. You would not *believe* how much 
faster it is to clean up an EPUB that went through Markdown vs. an EPUB built 
directly in Scrivener; I’m talking 10 minutes vs. 3-4 hours. Anyway, now that 
you have XHTML, it’s really easy to transform to roff. In fact, that's exactly 
how I produce print editions of my fiction… so it definitely can be done, and 
far more easily than it is to transform roff to XHTML. Just another pipeline, 
and we’re all familiar with those.

        Markdown -> XHTML -> EPUB
        Markdown -> XHTML -> roff

Portability is an issue — but let’s face it, most of us have extended -ms in 
our own fashion as well. If source exchange is that important, you might as 
well look at DITA or Docbook (oh wait, scratch DITA, most shops “specialize” it 
to suit their own needs). As for counter-intuitive, pass this email through a 
Markdown processor and see what it does. We already use it, all the time.

I’ve never been able to get my head around TeX; roff is far easier for me to 
work with, and I’ve been using one variant or another since 1983. I found 
Markdown really easy to adopt, but other people might not. What works for me 
might not work for you, and vice versa. That’s the beauty of having all these 
different ways of getting the job done.


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