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Re: RS/RE and (relative) inset (was: RS/RE and paragraphing macros)

From: G. Branden Robinson
Subject: Re: RS/RE and (relative) inset (was: RS/RE and paragraphing macros)
Date: Mon, 20 Feb 2023 18:18:42 -0600

Hi Alex,

At 2023-02-21T00:37:55+0100, Alex Colomar wrote:
> I'm not convinced about this change:
> @@ -1976,7 +1978,7 @@ or
>  or its synonyms is called;
>  these clear the indentation entirely.
>  .
> -Relative insets created by
> +Insets created by
>  .B .RS
>  move the left margin and persist until
>  .BR .RS ,
> RS insets are relative (to other RS), aren't they?  They specify the
> left-margin inset relative to the current left margin (rather than
> absolute to the terminal 1st column, or equivalent for other devices).
> I don't think removing relative was a good choice, was it?

I was trying to economize words; there exists no mechanism (in man(7)
macros) to set an "absolute" inset, so within the domain of discussion,
there is no distinction to be made.  (The point is made regardless with
the explication of the RS/RE macros' names.)

This absence of absolute insetting may be less obvious to you since
you're familiar with Michael Kerrisk's sneaky trick of grubbing about
with `in` requests.

I have tried to write the groff_man(7) page accurately and concisely for
experienced *roff macro package users, and groff_man_style(7) in a more
tutorial and accommodating way for newcomers.

I'm reluctant to take on--in the man pages--an audience somewhere
between these two others because that is a large and ill-defined
population with knowledge levels that are all over the place.  I don't
want to introduce a lot of jargon about formatter concepts that
newcomers don't need to know only to repeatedly reassure them that they
don't have to worry about it if they just stick to the prescribed macro
calls.  I think that would lead to the page bloating to much larger

By contrast, mailing lists (and Reddit, StackExchange, etc.) are, I
think, appropriate forums for intermediate *roff users to develop their


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