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Re: Gremlin Format grn

From: Robert Goulding
Subject: Re: Gremlin Format grn
Date: Fri, 16 Jul 2021 09:56:09 -0600

I once managed to compile and run the source code to gremlin, the graphic
frontend for producing grn files. But it was quite primitive, and kind of
useless, so I didn't keep it.

Robert Goulding
Sent from my Google Pixel 4

On Fri, Jul 16, 2021, 9:53 AM Ingo Schwarze <> wrote:

> Hi Wim,
> Wim Stockman wrote on Wed, Jul 14, 2021 at 10:48:15PM +0200:
> > Hi , I was looking into the groff doc dir and found this old file format.
> > the Gremlin file format for graphics.
> > But even on google I cannot find a lot of information about it.
> > Does someone have some info on it ,some documentation perhaps
> > I'd like to take a look at this ancient format out of curiosity.
> The oldest document using it i managed to find was the manual of
> "The SPMS Software Project Management System" by Peter J. Nicklin,
> published together with 4.2BSD in September 1983, written in ms(7)
> macros with 13 "gremlinfile" drawings.
> It seems SPMS was a rather short-lived animal.  Neither 4.3BSD
> nor 4.4BSD included it.  4.3BSD-Tahoe and 4.3BSD-Reno appear to
> include a radically abridged version of the manual - about
> one tenth of the original size - but neither the program code
> nor the gremlinfile drawings.
> Either way, all this predates most of the history documented by
> which consists of
>    2% 4.0BSD development history
>    3% 4.1BSD development history
>   15% 4.2BSD development history
>   50% 4.3BSD development history
>   30% 4.4BSD development history
> Files were only gradually added to the SCCS, so in particular for the
> earlier of these releases, some files that were part of releases were
> not in the SCCS.  In particular, SPMS never was.  I only found it,
> and its gremlinfile drawings, on Marshall McKusick's archive CDs:
> The SCCS includes this though:
> But this online version of the CSRG SCCS at is
> really very, very buggy.  The following files were contained in
> the orignal SCCS tree but are missing from
>  * a grn(1) manual page written by David Slattengren
>  * a gremlin(1) manual page written by Barry Roitblat
>  * a gremlinlib(1) manual page written by Mark Opperman
>  * some simple gremlin drawing contained in the following handbook:
>    "Wisconsin ARGO 1.0 Kernel Programmer's Guide for
>     Academic Operating Systems 4.3
>     This document describes the design and implementation of the ISO
>     transport and network layers written for the ACIS Operating System,
>     the IBM ACIS port of Berkeley 4.3 Unix" (1988)
>    (I didn't find the author of that document...)
>  * three "gremlinfile" drawings contained in the following document:
>    "An Introductory 4.4BSD Interprocess Communication Tutorial"
>    by Stuart Sechrest, Computer Science Research Group, UCB (1986)
> All in all, it appears gremlin was used sparingly even back in the
> day, to put it mildly.  It originated in BSD, but what is listed
> above is all use of it that i managed to find so far, even after
> systemetically searching the complete BSD history from 1BSD to
> 4.4BSD-Lite2.  That is, i only see evidence for less than three
> dozen drawings in three pieces of rather obscure documentation,
> grand total.
> A printed book i consulted, "Document Formatting and Typesetting
> on the UNIX System" by Narain Gehani and Steven Lally (of AT&T)
> published in 1987/88 does not even mention gremlin, whereas it
> contains long chapters on pic and grap and briefly mentions ideal.
> Yours,
>   Ingo

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