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Re: man(7) .TH font change, was: groff man(7) `B` macro...

From: Alejandro Colomar
Subject: Re: man(7) .TH font change, was: groff man(7) `B` macro...
Date: Sun, 19 Jun 2022 15:32:16 +0200
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:91.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/91.10.0

Hi Ralph,

On 6/19/22 13:09, Ralph Corderoy wrote:
Hi Ingo,

The price to pay for this very small benefit of .MR is that pages
using the new feature will become broken in a very bad way for all
output modes on formatters not yet supporting it.

Plan 9 could add .MR because they also controlled all the man pages
within the Plan 9 OS.  Groff doesn't have that luxury so it's just
creating yet more confusion and the need to make the extra
recommendation to avoid .MR.

We don't have full control, but we have considerable control, since I maintain the Linux man-pages.

Let's consider a similar situaction (IMHO): C2x attributes, which come from C++, and introduce [[attr]] for standard attributes, and [[vendor::attr]] for vendor-specific attributes.

C2x introduces a backwards-incompatible syntax (since an old compiler can't handle them), but a very useful one, since it makes it clear that attributes are attributes (before, function-like syntax could confuse programmers (that's happened to me), especially when seeing attributes for a system with which they were not familiar). And it's not breaking any existing code, because [[]] was illegal before. This makes C2x attributes _very_ portable, since compilers can work with them freshly, without backwards-compatibility restrictions.

Many people have blamed the standards committee with arguments such as "these people are smoking dope again", and similar stuff. Well, right now, of course, it's impossisble to use them in code that intends to be portable to existing compilers. But fast-forward 20 years, when every compiler has support for it, and then you have a super portable, and super readable feature.

TL;DR: let's think in improving things in the long term, or we will be stuck with each vendor having their own attributes syntax.

The same applies to man(7) .MR, I think.


Alejandro Colomar

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