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```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
@ 2022-01-12  2:49 Jon Steinhart
2022-01-12 10:38 ` Ralph Corderoy
0 siblings, 1 reply; 45+ messages in thread
From: Jon Steinhart @ 2022-01-12  2:49 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: TUHS main list

Been reading the heirloom docs.  Remember one thing that I disliked
about troff which maybe Doug can explain.  It's the language in the
docs.  I never understood "interpolating a register" to have any
relation to the definition of interpolate that I learned in math.
Made it a bit hard to learn initially.

Any memory of why that term was used?

• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-12  2:49 [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7)) Jon Steinhart
@ 2022-01-12 10:38 ` Ralph Corderoy
2022-01-12 17:53   ` Jon Steinhart
0 siblings, 1 reply; 45+ messages in thread
From: Ralph Corderoy @ 2022-01-12 10:38 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: tuhs

Hi Jon,

> I never understood "interpolating a register" to have any relation to
> the definition of interpolate that I learned in math.

The first definition makes sense of it:

1. (transitive, intransitive) To introduce (something) between other
things; especially to insert (possibly spurious) words into a text.

in verse 74, the second line is clearly interpolated

2. (mathematics) To estimate the value of a function between two
tabulated points.

3. (computing) During the course of processing some data, and in
response to a directive in that data, to fetch data from a different
source and process it in-line along with the original data.

― https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/interpolate

--
Cheers, Ralph.

• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-12 10:38 ` Ralph Corderoy
@ 2022-01-12 17:53   ` Jon Steinhart
2022-01-12 18:27     ` G. Branden Robinson
0 siblings, 1 reply; 45+ messages in thread
From: Jon Steinhart @ 2022-01-12 17:53 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: tuhs

Ralph Corderoy writes:
> Hi Jon,
>
> > I never understood "interpolating a register" to have any relation to
> > the definition of interpolate that I learned in math.
>
> The first definition makes sense of it:
>
>     1. (transitive, intransitive) To introduce (something) between other
>     things; especially to insert (possibly spurious) words into a text.
>
>         in verse 74, the second line is clearly interpolated
>
>     2. (mathematics) To estimate the value of a function between two
>     tabulated points.
>
>     3. (computing) During the course of processing some data, and in
>     response to a directive in that data, to fetch data from a different
>     source and process it in-line along with the original data.
>
>         ― https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/interpolate
>
> --
> Cheers, Ralph.

Yeah, I looked it up too.  Yes, the argument can be made that one of the
definitions can be forced to sort of fit; I'm guessing that #3 didn't
exist when troff was written.  So I'm gonna stick to my point that using
that word is awkward and makes the document a bit harder to understand.
Especially in the context of programming languages, of which troff is one.
To the best of my knowledge, nobody talks about "a = b;" as interpolating b.

• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-12 17:53   ` Jon Steinhart
@ 2022-01-12 18:27     ` G. Branden Robinson
2022-01-12 19:02       ` John Cowan
0 siblings, 1 reply; 45+ messages in thread
From: G. Branden Robinson @ 2022-01-12 18:27 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: tuhs

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At 2022-01-12T09:53:28-0800, Jon Steinhart wrote:
> Ralph Corderoy writes:
> > > I never understood "interpolating a register" to have any relation
> > > to the definition of interpolate that I learned in math.
> >
> > The first definition makes sense of it:
> >
> >     1. (transitive, intransitive) To introduce (something) between
> >     other things; especially to insert (possibly spurious) words
> >     into a text.
> >
> >         in verse 74, the second line is clearly interpolated
[...]
> Yeah, I looked it up too.  Yes, the argument can be made that one of
> the definitions can be forced to sort of fit; I'm guessing that #3
> didn't exist when troff was written.  So I'm gonna stick to my point
> that using that word is awkward and makes the document a bit harder to
> understand.  Especially in the context of programming languages, of
> which troff is one.  To the best of my knowledge, nobody talks about
> "a = b;" as interpolating b.

I've found the term highly useful and have greatly increased its usage
in groff documentation.  (I have been a stickler for a disciplined
lexicon in every software project I've been involved in.)

I prefer it to a popular alternative, "expansion", which is
misleading--especially to novices, who then make the reasonable
assumption, given the everyday meaning of that word, that whatever
results from the process will be larger in some sense than what was
there before.

An argument could be made for the word "replacement", but I've found it
useful to reserve that plain-spoken term for discussion of things a
human might do (perhaps in the course of editing a document or
developing a macro).  To my ear, "interpolation" sounds fancy enough to
refer to something you let a machine do, without being _excessively_
technical in tone.

Regards,
Branden

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• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-12 18:27     ` G. Branden Robinson
@ 2022-01-12 19:02       ` John Cowan
0 siblings, 0 replies; 45+ messages in thread
From: John Cowan @ 2022-01-12 19:02 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: G. Branden Robinson; +Cc: TUHS main list

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On Wed, Jan 12, 2022 at 1:27 PM G. Branden Robinson <
g.branden.robinson@gmail.com> wrote:

An argument could be made for the word "replacement", but I've found it
> useful to reserve that plain-spoken term for discussion of things a
> human might do (perhaps in the course of editing a document or
> developing a macro).  To my ear, "interpolation" sounds fancy enough to
> refer to something you let a machine do, without being _excessively_
> technical in tone.
>

Strictly speaking, what is interpolated is the _contents_ of the register,
not the register itself.  It never hurts to be too clear.

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```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
@ 2022-01-13 17:31 Douglas McIlroy
0 siblings, 0 replies; 45+ messages in thread
From: Douglas McIlroy @ 2022-01-13 17:31 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: TUHS main list

> If I can be so bold as to offer an interpretation: Doug's approximations
> treat ellipses as mathematical objects and algorithmically determine what
> pixels are closest to points on the infinitesimally-thin curves, while
> Knuth's (or one his students') method acknowledges that the curve has a
> width defined by the nib

Just so.

> I find it impossible that neither Knuth nor Hobby were unaware of McIlroy's
> work and vice-versa; of course he would have known about and examined troff
> just as the Bell Labs folks knew about TeX.

We were generally aware of each other's work. My papers on drawing
lines, circles, and ellipses on rasters, though, were barely connected
to troff. Troff did not contain any drawing algorithms. That work was
relegated to the rendering programs that interpreted ditroff output.
Thus publication-quality rendering with support for thick lines was
outsourced to Adobe and Mergenthaler.

Various PostScript or ditroff postprocessors for screen-based
terminals were written in house. These programs paid little or no
attention to fonts and line widths. But the blit renderers made a
tenuous connection between my ellipse algorithm and troff, since my
work on the topic was stimulated by Rob's need for an ellipse
generator.

Doug

```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
@ 2022-01-11 13:37 Nelson H. F. Beebe
0 siblings, 0 replies; 45+ messages in thread
From: Nelson H. F. Beebe @ 2022-01-11 13:37 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: The Unix Heritage Society mailing list

On the subject of documtation of [nt]roff, no one seems to have
mentioned Narain Gehani's two editions of ``Document Formatting and
Typesetting on the UNIX System'' (700+ pages), and a second two-author
volume that covers grap, mv, ms, and troff.  There is a table of
contents of the second edition recorded here:

http://www.math.utah.edu/pub/tex/bib/typeset.html#Gehani:1987:DFT

There is an entry in that file for the first edition too

http://www.math.utah.edu/pub/tex/bib/typeset.html#Gehani:1986:DF

The second volume, co-authored with Steven Lally, is covered here:

http://www.math.utah.edu/pub/tex/bib/typeset.html#Gehani:1988:DFT

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- Nelson H. F. Beebe                    Tel: +1 801 581 5254                  -
- University of Utah                    FAX: +1 801 581 4148                  -
- Department of Mathematics, 110 LCB    Internet e-mail: beebe@math.utah.edu  -
- 155 S 1400 E RM 233                       beebe@acm.org  beebe@computer.org -
- Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0090, USA    URL: http://www.math.utah.edu/~beebe/ -
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
@ 2022-01-10 21:12 Bakul Shah
0 siblings, 0 replies; 45+ messages in thread
From: Bakul Shah @ 2022-01-10 21:12 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: Larry McVoy; +Cc: TUHS main list

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﻿
On Jan 10, 2022, at 12:33 PM, Larry McVoy <lm@mcvoy.com> wrote:
> TeX looks better but you instantly know it is
> TeX, it has a particular look.

Perhaps you’re thinking of documents using Computer Modern fonts,
typeset using LaTeX’s document classes. Check out the examples here:
https://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/1319/showcase-of-beautiful-typography-done-in-tex-friends

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```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
@ 2022-01-10 21:06 Jon Steinhart
2022-01-11 11:06 ` Ralph Corderoy
0 siblings, 1 reply; 45+ messages in thread
From: Jon Steinhart @ 2022-01-10 21:06 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: TUHS main list

Steffen Nurpmeso writes:
> Note that heirloom doctools (on github) is a SysV-derived *roff

Wow, thanks for mentioning this.  I was unaware of it.  When I
recently wrote that it would be nice to add TeX's 2D formatting
to troff I didn't realize that it had already been done.

Something new to play with.

Jon

• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-10 21:06 Jon Steinhart
@ 2022-01-11 11:06 ` Ralph Corderoy
2022-01-11 14:52   ` John Cowan
0 siblings, 1 reply; 45+ messages in thread
From: Ralph Corderoy @ 2022-01-11 11:06 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: tuhs

Hi Jon,

> Steffen Nurpmeso writes:
> > Note that heirloom doctools (on github) is a SysV-derived *roff
>
> Wow, thanks for mentioning this.  I was unaware of it.  When
> I recently wrote that it would be nice to add TeX's 2D formatting
> to troff I didn't realize that it had already been done.
>
> Something new to play with.

There's also Neatroff by Ali Gholami Rudi.  It has TeX's paragraph
formatting and several other new features, taking from Plan 9,
Heirloom, and Groff.  IIRC, it's an implementation from scratch.
https://litcave.rudi.ir links to its introductary PDF in the first
paragraph, https://litcave.rudi.ir/neatroff.pdf, and a Typesetting
section below the change-log.

--
Cheers, Ralph.

• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-11 11:06 ` Ralph Corderoy
@ 2022-01-11 14:52   ` John Cowan
0 siblings, 0 replies; 45+ messages in thread
From: John Cowan @ 2022-01-11 14:52 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: Ralph Corderoy; +Cc: TUHS main list

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On Tue, Jan 11, 2022 at 6:13 AM Ralph Corderoy <ralph@inputplus.co.uk>
wrote:

There's also Neatroff by Ali Gholami Rudi.  It has TeX's paragraph
> formatting and several other new features, taking from Plan 9,
> Heirloom, and Groff.
>

I remember reading somewhere that some versions of `more' and/or `less'
used TeX paragraphing when breaking long lines for display, but I can't
track it down now.

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```* Re: [TUHS] roff(7)
@ 2021-12-31 15:47 Douglas McIlroy
2021-12-31 23:07 ` George Michaelson
0 siblings, 1 reply; 45+ messages in thread
From: Douglas McIlroy @ 2021-12-31 15:47 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: TUHS main list

> Did roff do all of what troff and nroff did?

No way. Ossanna deserves all the praise you give him. Roff extended
runoff in various ways:
relative numeric operators, e.g. .in +8
tabbing (left, right and centered)
underlining
tripartite headers and footers
arabic and roman page numbering
automatic hyphenation, thanks to Molly Wagner
footnotes
merge patterns for change marks, column separators, etc.
various special requests: .ne, .ti, .tr, .po, .op (odd page)

But roff did NOT have conditionals, traps, special characters,
environments, or arbitrary motion control. Crucially (and ironically,
because I was Mr. Macro), it did not have anything like macros,
strings and diversions until after Joe pioneered them in nroff.

So there was a gaping disparity: nroff was Turing complete, roff
wasn't. Roff merely added features to runoff; nroff leapt into a
different universe.

-----------------------

The features listed above are in the January 1971 manual for BCPL
roff, which is probably the anonymous reference cited in the November
1971 v1 manual. The v1 manual lists Osanna, Ken and Dennis as authors
of the Unix implementation. I believe Ossanna is named because he
added line-numbering--and maybe more--to entice the patent department
to switch to roff.

BCPL roff allowed all four arithmetic operators in contexts like .ls
*3. Only + and - were allowed in nroff. Eventually both BCPL roff and
nroff got number registers (defined by different commands); I don't
recall which came first. BCPL roff also got a weak macro facility,
definitely after nroff.

Doug

• ```* Re: [TUHS] roff(7)
2021-12-31 15:47 [TUHS] roff(7) Douglas McIlroy
@ 2021-12-31 23:07 ` George Michaelson
2021-12-31 23:40   ` Larry McVoy
0 siblings, 1 reply; 45+ messages in thread
From: George Michaelson @ 2021-12-31 23:07 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: Douglas McIlroy; +Cc: TUHS main list

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In 79-82 Runoff got me my undergraduate texts formatted on a dec10.

Moving to work post degree on Unix and vms systems (my memory is that for
some reason VMS didn't have runoff) I had the Normalised "oh this must be
the same" hitting roff/nroff and got really confused by having both ms and
me macros.

Nobody seemed to be able to explain to me why you wanted both (the
mysteries and distinctions of v<X> vs BSD were completely lost to me at
this early stage). But macros aside, anyone who had used runoff had a
massively simpler path into roff than TeX. My future was set. The phd
students at Leeds looked down their noses at me for using cryptic .2 letter
inline magic. They were the high priests of things, I was just a computer
operator.  Watching them spend weeks and weeks wrangling a one em offset
problem stopping perfection in print was.. entertaining.

Then we somehow got ditroff at Leeds uni. That was really weird, because it
was obviously "better" but again nobody could explain why the di- bit
magically appeared. (We had a Benson- Varian slimey paper printer at some
fantastical dpi like 120 or 150 which turned up at the same time.) wasn't
this just Troff? Oh God, was it really called t/roff not troff...

The entire production path to lpr had some driver logic to put "--" cut
marks on the continuous paper so you knew where to guillotine from the
roll, but unfortunately was wired to US legal paper sizes not A4
(presumably some macro definitions file would have fixed this) I still have
a poem from the British computer society about the birth of the icl 2900
typeset in olde English, centred. That Benson-Varian  must have used damn
good printing because it's still readable 40 years later when parking
tickets (similar print process?) Fade out in a day.

It was also around the time that "tbl" had what we all thought was a bug,
drawing the horizontal boxlines off by one. Nobody at the time understood
this was to counteract a specific electromechanical printer issue inside
AT&T.  Since it was coming in BSD Unix I can imagine back inside Berkeley
people binning our complaints. If you don't remember which 1200bpi tape the
software came from, don't just complain at random...

The "pic" tool had also just hit, and it obviously didn't share those line
offset problems which made us all very suspicious: "ITS THE SAME PEOPLES
CODE" we shouted at each other (it wasnt) ...

G

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• ```* Re: [TUHS] roff(7)
2021-12-31 23:07 ` George Michaelson
@ 2021-12-31 23:40   ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-01  0:56     ` [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7)) Greg 'groggy' Lehey
0 siblings, 1 reply; 45+ messages in thread
From: Larry McVoy @ 2021-12-31 23:40 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: George Michaelson; +Cc: TUHS main list, Douglas McIlroy

On Sat, Jan 01, 2022 at 09:07:49AM +1000, George Michaelson wrote:
> But macros aside, anyone who had used runoff had a
> massively simpler path into roff than TeX. My future was set. The phd
> students at Leeds looked down their noses at me for using cryptic .2 letter
> inline magic. They were the high priests of things, I was just a computer
> operator.  Watching them spend weeks and weeks wrangling a one em offset
> problem stopping perfection in print was.. entertaining.

I was program committee chair for Linux Expo in 1999 (all that means is
I formatted the proceedings into a book).  I let people use LaTex but
encouraged troff.  A few people tried out troff and their reaction was
"Wow, that was so easy and groff is really fast!"

The only negative reaction was table of contents complaints, LaTex is
2 pass so it can do them, roff is one pass so you have to fiddle with
things.  A lot.

I've used *roff for almost 40 years and I've never had the urge to use
something else.  I wrote a paper a while back where they insisted on
LaTex and it just made me like *roff more.

It's Betamax and VHS all over again, the crappy answer won.

--lm

• ```* [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2021-12-31 23:40   ` Larry McVoy
@ 2022-01-01  0:56     ` Greg 'groggy' Lehey
2022-01-01  3:15       ` Larry McVoy
0 siblings, 1 reply; 45+ messages in thread
From: Greg 'groggy' Lehey @ 2022-01-01  0:56 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: Larry McVoy; +Cc: TUHS main list, Douglas McIlroy

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On Friday, 31 December 2021 at 15:40:39 -0800, Larry McVoy wrote:
> On Sat, Jan 01, 2022 at 09:07:49AM +1000, George Michaelson wrote:
>> But macros aside, anyone who had used runoff had a
>> massively simpler path into roff than TeX. My future was set. The phd
>> students at Leeds looked down their noses at me for using cryptic .2 letter
>> inline magic. They were the high priests of things, I was just a computer
>> operator.  Watching them spend weeks and weeks wrangling a one em offset
>> problem stopping perfection in print was.. entertaining.
>
> I was program committee chair for Linux Expo in 1999 (all that means is
> I formatted the proceedings into a book).  I let people use LaTex but
> encouraged troff.  A few people tried out troff and their reaction was
> "Wow, that was so easy and groff is really fast!"

Heh.  I had a similar experience when writing "Porting Unix Software"
(1995).  O'Reilly insisted on using groff with their macro set, and I
had only had experience with (La)TeX.  I fought for quite some time,
but ultimately gave in.  Despite Baby Duck Syndrome, I discovered that
I far preferred groff to TeX, and I've been using it ever since.

From PUS:

.Pe
More than anywhere else in porting, it is good for your state of mind to steer
clear of
.TXI \&
internals.  The assumptions on which the syntax is based differ markedly from
those of other programming languages.  For example, identifiers may not contain
digits, and spaces are required only when the meaning would otherwise be
ambiguous (to
.TXI ,
not to you), so the sequence \s10\f(CWfontsize300\fR\s0 is in fact the
identifier \s10\f(CWfontsize\fR\s0 followed by the number \s10\f(CW300\fR\s0.
On the other hand, it is almost impossible to find any good solid information in
the documentation, so you could spend hours trying to solve a minor problem.  I
have been using
.TXI \&
frequently for years, and I still find it the most frustrating program I have
ever seen.\**
.FS
When I wrote this sentence, I wondered if I wasn't overstating the case.  Mike
Loukides, the author of \fIProgramming with GNU Software\fR, reviewed the final
draft and added a single word: \fIAmen\fR.
.FE

> The only negative reaction was table of contents complaints, LaTex is
> 2 pass so it can do them, roff is one pass so you have to fiddle with
> things.  A lot.

I solved that issue in later documents with two passes in the Makefile
targets, frobbing things like references and contents in between.

Greg
--
Sent from my desktop computer.
Finger grog@lemis.com for PGP public key.
See complete headers for address and phone numbers.
This message is digitally signed.  If your Microsoft mail program

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• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-01  0:56     ` [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7)) Greg 'groggy' Lehey
@ 2022-01-01  3:15       ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-10 19:00         ` Blake McBride
0 siblings, 1 reply; 45+ messages in thread
From: Larry McVoy @ 2022-01-01  3:15 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: Greg 'groggy' Lehey; +Cc: TUHS main list, Douglas McIlroy

On Sat, Jan 01, 2022 at 11:56:05AM +1100, Greg 'groggy' Lehey wrote:
> > The only negative reaction was table of contents complaints, LaTex is
> > 2 pass so it can do them, roff is one pass so you have to fiddle with
> > things.  A lot.
>
> I solved that issue in later documents with two passes in the Makefile
> targets, frobbing things like references and contents in between.

I was troff friends with W Richard Stevens, he shared with me a lot of
what he did in troff.  He did the two pass thing.  Nice guy and got as
much out of roff that anyone could, all of his books were troff.

• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-01  3:15       ` Larry McVoy
@ 2022-01-10 19:00         ` Blake McBride
2022-01-10 20:21           ` Jon Forrest
` (2 more replies)
0 siblings, 3 replies; 45+ messages in thread
From: Blake McBride @ 2022-01-10 19:00 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: Larry McVoy; +Cc: TUHS main list, Douglas McIlroy

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I've used nroff/troff/TeX with many of their various macro packages over
about a 35 years span.  During that time, I've done many single-page
documents as well as documents as long as 350 pages.  I also modified a
version of nroff to create business forms for Laster printers.  This is
still being used commercially.  This is one person's opinion:

1.  Perhaps owing to my limited intelligence, and in spite of the fact that
I've used TeX successfully on many documents, I have never been able to
fully understand TeX.  Apparently, it is too much for me.  Troff, on the
other hand, has made full sense to me.  I was able to make it do what I
wanted almost always.  I enjoy using troff more because I find it simpler,
and therefore, more pleasant to use.

2.  Looking at the output, it is my opinion that TeX produces
better-looking documents.  Perhaps this is just no more than one man's
esthetic opinion.  I do not know what it is that I find better.  It's just
the sense I get.  On the other hand, I find troff output to be sufficiently
good in nearly all cases.

3.  troff is a good and reasonable tool.  TeX is too big and complex an
environment in most cases.  Although it is true that all of the complexity
of the TeX environment is successfully hidden in virtually all cases.  I
find the huge and complex environment offputting.

Very unfortunately, I see troff disappearing.  I've worked with a number of
teams over the last ten years.  In every case, I was the oldest engineer.
Also, in each case, I was the only engineer who had even heard of troff.
They understand the problems of binary formats such as Word and
OpenOffice.  Their solutions are things like markdown, AsciiDoc, et al.
They are doing this development and making use of these tools without
knowledge of troff.  The same is true to a greater or lesser degree with
TeX, except that I've seen TeX used at universities.

I like that groff and TeX are rock solid and well supported.  In fact, I
wrote a report generator for a modern web development framework using
troff.  I use it to develop reports on a routine basis.  (kissweb.org)
Sadly, however, if word of their existence doesn't get out there, I see
them both disappearing in not much longer than a generation.  This would be

Blake McBride

On Fri, Dec 31, 2021 at 9:16 PM Larry McVoy <lm@mcvoy.com> wrote:

> On Sat, Jan 01, 2022 at 11:56:05AM +1100, Greg 'groggy' Lehey wrote:
> > > The only negative reaction was table of contents complaints, LaTex is
> > > 2 pass so it can do them, roff is one pass so you have to fiddle with
> > > things.  A lot.
> >
> > I solved that issue in later documents with two passes in the Makefile
> > targets, frobbing things like references and contents in between.
>
> I was troff friends with W Richard Stevens, he shared with me a lot of
> what he did in troff.  He did the two pass thing.  Nice guy and got as
> much out of roff that anyone could, all of his books were troff.
>

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• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-10 19:00         ` Blake McBride
@ 2022-01-10 20:21           ` Jon Forrest
2022-01-11 22:48             ` Blake McBride
2022-01-10 20:33           ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-10 20:46           ` Steffen Nurpmeso
2 siblings, 1 reply; 45+ messages in thread
From: Jon Forrest @ 2022-01-10 20:21 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: tuhs

On 1/10/22 11:00 AM, Blake McBride wrote:

> I like that groff and TeX are rock solid and well supported.

> Sadly, however, if word of their existence doesn't get out there, I see
> them both disappearing in not much longer than a generation.  This would
> be sad indeed.

TeX badly need an official rewrite in a modern programming language
(e.g. Go, Rust, even C). The rewrite should drop support for the
.dvi format, and use .pdf instead. It should also make use of
modern hardware capabilities and not have any built-in limits
to how much memory gets used.

These issues are well recognized by the TeX community but with
Knuth not willing to be the BDFL, TeX is floundering.

(I don't mean any of this as criticism of TeX. It's a truly
miraculous program that was created in a different time.)

Jon

• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-10 20:21           ` Jon Forrest
@ 2022-01-11 22:48             ` Blake McBride
2022-01-11 23:18               ` Larry McVoy
` (3 more replies)
0 siblings, 4 replies; 45+ messages in thread
From: Blake McBride @ 2022-01-11 22:48 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: Jon Forrest; +Cc: TUHS main list

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On Mon, Jan 10, 2022 at 2:22 PM Jon Forrest <nobozo@gmail.com> wrote:

>
> TeX badly need an official rewrite in a modern programming language
> (e.g. Go, Rust, even C). The rewrite should drop support for the
> .dvi format, and use .pdf instead. It should also make use of
> modern hardware capabilities and not have any built-in limits
> to how much memory gets used.
>
> These issues are well recognized by the TeX community but with
> Knuth not willing to be the BDFL, TeX is floundering.
>
> (I don't mean any of this as criticism of TeX. It's a truly
> miraculous program that was created in a different time.)
>
> Jon
>
>
Although I'm not connected with the TeX community, I don't agree with much
of what you said.

1.  TeX source to C is fine - stable and works.  It would be impossible to
rewrite TeX in any other language without introducing bugs and
incompatibilities. Leaving TeX as-is means that it can be converted to
other languages too if/when C goes out of style.  TeX as-is is exactly what
it is.  Anything else wouldn't be TeX.

2.  Drop DVI?  Are you kidding me?  Although PDF may be popular now, that
may not be the case 20 years from now.  A device-independent format is what
is needed, and that's what DVI is.  TeX is guaranteed to produce the exact
same output 100 years from now.

3.  I am curious about memory limitations within TeX.

4.  Knuth is getting up in age.  Someone will have to take over.

I suppose #4 was my whole point about both TeX and troff.  They're both
great tools.  Perhaps people used them in the past because there weren't
many other solutions.  You had to learn them.  These days people prefer the
simpler tools such as Word, OpenOffice, etc.  Although they can't produce
the same quality, they can produce sufficient quality with a smaller
learning curve.  Don't get me wrong, I despise Word.  I just don't find my
feelings echoed very much.  Some things TeX and troff are going to need in
order to continue:

1.  Continue to be maintained

2.  An effort to make knowledge of them wider will have to occur if they
are to continue.

3.  A case for their benefit will have to be made and dispersed.

Blake McBride

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• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-11 22:48             ` Blake McBride
@ 2022-01-11 23:18               ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-12  1:19                 ` Dave Horsfall
` (2 more replies)
2022-01-12  0:06               ` Jon Steinhart
` (2 subsequent siblings)
3 siblings, 3 replies; 45+ messages in thread
From: Larry McVoy @ 2022-01-11 23:18 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: Blake McBride; +Cc: TUHS main list

On Tue, Jan 11, 2022 at 04:48:12PM -0600, Blake McBride wrote:
> Some things TeX and troff are going to need in
> order to continue:
>
> 1.  Continue to be maintained
>
> 2.  An effort to make knowledge of them wider will have to occur if they
> are to continue.
>
> 3.  A case for their benefit will have to be made and dispersed.

Well, someone could do what I tried (and failed) to do: make Word
produce high quality eqn/tbl/pic/troff source as their internal
format.

There was such a thing for TeX, can't remember the name, but my
Dad (very computer not savvy) used it to write a book.  It was
WYSIWYG but spit out TeX.

• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-11 23:18               ` Larry McVoy
@ 2022-01-12  1:19                 ` Dave Horsfall
2022-01-12  1:46                 ` Blake McBride
2022-01-12  2:12                 ` Bakul Shah
2 siblings, 0 replies; 45+ messages in thread
From: Dave Horsfall @ 2022-01-12  1:19 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: The Eunuchs Hysterical Society

On Tue, 11 Jan 2022, Larry McVoy wrote:

> Well, someone could do what I tried (and failed) to do: make Word
> produce high quality eqn/tbl/pic/troff source as their internal format.

I doubt whether that will ever happen; M\$ like to keep their internal
format proprietary (and apparently change it with each release) to keep
third-parties out.

-- Dave

• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-11 23:18               ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-12  1:19                 ` Dave Horsfall
@ 2022-01-12  1:46                 ` Blake McBride
2022-01-12  2:12                 ` Bakul Shah
2 siblings, 0 replies; 45+ messages in thread
From: Blake McBride @ 2022-01-12  1:46 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: Larry McVoy; +Cc: TUHS main list

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On Tue, Jan 11, 2022 at 5:18 PM Larry McVoy <lm@mcvoy.com> wrote:

> On Tue, Jan 11, 2022 at 04:48:12PM -0600, Blake McBride wrote:
> > 3.  A case for their benefit will have to be made and dispersed.
>
> Well, someone could do what I tried (and failed) to do: make Word
> produce high quality eqn/tbl/pic/troff source as their internal
> format.
>

As I said earlier, I despise Word for many reasons.  I think making Word,
or any proprietary software, do anything as, in the long haul, a waste of
time.

>
> There was such a thing for TeX, can't remember the name, but my
> Dad (very computer not savvy) used it to write a book.  It was
> WYSIWYG but spit out TeX.
>

Probably LyX <https://www.lyx.org/>.  I use it frequently.

Blake McBride

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• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-11 23:18               ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-12  1:19                 ` Dave Horsfall
2022-01-12  1:46                 ` Blake McBride
@ 2022-01-12  2:12                 ` Bakul Shah
2022-01-12 15:49                   ` Larry McVoy
2 siblings, 1 reply; 45+ messages in thread
From: Bakul Shah @ 2022-01-12  2:12 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: Larry McVoy; +Cc: TUHS main list

> On Jan 11, 2022, at 3:18 PM, Larry McVoy <lm@mcvoy.com> wrote:
>
> On Tue, Jan 11, 2022 at 04:48:12PM -0600, Blake McBride wrote:
>> Some things TeX and troff are going to need in
>> order to continue:
>>
>> 1.  Continue to be maintained
>>
>> 2.  An effort to make knowledge of them wider will have to occur if they
>> are to continue.
>>
>> 3.  A case for their benefit will have to be made and dispersed.
>
> Well, someone could do what I tried (and failed) to do: make Word
> produce high quality eqn/tbl/pic/troff source as their internal
> format.
>
> There was such a thing for TeX, can't remember the name, but my
> Dad (very computer not savvy) used it to write a book.  It was
> WYSIWYG but spit out TeX.

May be Textures by Blue Sky Research?

• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-12  2:12                 ` Bakul Shah
@ 2022-01-12 15:49                   ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-12 16:22                     ` Adam Thornton
0 siblings, 1 reply; 45+ messages in thread
From: Larry McVoy @ 2022-01-12 15:49 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: Bakul Shah; +Cc: TUHS main list

On Tue, Jan 11, 2022 at 06:12:45PM -0800, Bakul Shah wrote:
>
>
> > On Jan 11, 2022, at 3:18 PM, Larry McVoy <lm@mcvoy.com> wrote:
> >
> > On Tue, Jan 11, 2022 at 04:48:12PM -0600, Blake McBride wrote:
> >> Some things TeX and troff are going to need in
> >> order to continue:
> >>
> >> 1.  Continue to be maintained
> >>
> >> 2.  An effort to make knowledge of them wider will have to occur if they
> >> are to continue.
> >>
> >> 3.  A case for their benefit will have to be made and dispersed.
> >
> > Well, someone could do what I tried (and failed) to do: make Word
> > produce high quality eqn/tbl/pic/troff source as their internal
> > format.
> >
> > There was such a thing for TeX, can't remember the name, but my
> > Dad (very computer not savvy) used it to write a book.  It was
> > WYSIWYG but spit out TeX.
>
> May be Textures by Blue Sky Research?

That's it.

• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-12 15:49                   ` Larry McVoy
@ 2022-01-12 16:22                     ` Adam Thornton
0 siblings, 0 replies; 45+ messages in thread
From: Adam Thornton @ 2022-01-12 16:22 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: Larry McVoy; +Cc: Bakul Shah, TUHS main list

> On Jan 12, 2022, at 8:49 AM, Larry McVoy <lm@mcvoy.com> wrote:
>
> On Tue, Jan 11, 2022 at 06:12:45PM -0800, Bakul Shah wrote:
>>
>>
>>> On Jan 11, 2022, at 3:18 PM, Larry McVoy <lm@mcvoy.com> wrote:
>>>
>>> There was such a thing for TeX, can't remember the name, but my
>>> Dad (very computer not savvy) used it to write a book.  It was
>>> WYSIWYG but spit out TeX.
>>
>> May be Textures by Blue Sky Research?
>
> That's it.

LyX is a venerable and not entirely unsuccessful attempt to put a WYSIWYG front end on LaTeX.  Every few years I try to use it and then go back to something else.

• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-11 22:48             ` Blake McBride
2022-01-11 23:18               ` Larry McVoy
@ 2022-01-12  0:06               ` Jon Steinhart
2022-01-12  1:48                 ` Blake McBride
2022-01-12  0:29               ` Nemo Nusquam
3 siblings, 1 reply; 45+ messages in thread
From: Jon Steinhart @ 2022-01-12  0:06 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: TUHS main list

Blake McBride writes:
> I suppose #4 was my whole point about both TeX and troff.  They're both
> great tools.  Perhaps people used them in the past because there weren't
> many other solutions.  You had to learn them.  These days people prefer the
> simpler tools such as Word, OpenOffice, etc.  Although they can't produce
> the same quality, they can produce sufficient quality with a smaller
> learning curve.  Don't get me wrong, I despise Word.  I just don't find my
> feelings echoed very much.  Some things TeX and troff are going to need in
> order to continue:

I disagree with your characterization that things like Word are simpler tools.
They're way more complex than troff or TeX, both in code and usability.

FYI, last time I saw Don he was asked what his biggest mistake ever was.
His response was making the basic unit size in TeX a power of 2 instead
of a power of 10.

While I'm at it, a shill also asked him what his favorite joke was.  His
A guy goes into the county clerk and asks to legally change his name.
The clerk asks "What would you like to change it to?"
The guy responds "Control G".
The clerk says "That rings a bell."

• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-12  0:06               ` Jon Steinhart
@ 2022-01-12  1:48                 ` Blake McBride
0 siblings, 0 replies; 45+ messages in thread
From: Blake McBride @ 2022-01-12  1:48 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: Jon Steinhart; +Cc: TUHS main list

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On Tue, Jan 11, 2022 at 6:07 PM Jon Steinhart <jon@fourwinds.com> wrote:

> Blake McBride writes:
> > I suppose #4 was my whole point about both TeX and troff.  They're both
> > great tools.  Perhaps people used them in the past because there weren't
> > many other solutions.  You had to learn them.  These days people prefer
> the
> > simpler tools such as Word, OpenOffice, etc.  Although they can't produce
> > the same quality, they can produce sufficient quality with a smaller
> > learning curve.  Don't get me wrong, I despise Word.  I just don't find
> my
> > feelings echoed very much.  Some things TeX and troff are going to need
> in
> > order to continue:
>
> I disagree with your characterization that things like Word are simpler
> tools.
> They're way more complex than troff or TeX, both in code and usability.
>

We'll have to agree to disagree.

--blake

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• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-11 22:48             ` Blake McBride
2022-01-11 23:18               ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-12  0:06               ` Jon Steinhart
@ 2022-01-12  0:29               ` Nemo Nusquam
2022-01-12  1:53                 ` Blake McBride
3 siblings, 1 reply; 45+ messages in thread
From: Nemo Nusquam @ 2022-01-12  0:29 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: tuhs

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• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-12  0:29               ` Nemo Nusquam
@ 2022-01-12  1:53                 ` Blake McBride
0 siblings, 0 replies; 45+ messages in thread
From: Blake McBride @ 2022-01-12  1:53 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: Nemo Nusquam; +Cc: TUHS main list

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On Tue, Jan 11, 2022 at 6:30 PM Nemo Nusquam <cym224@gmail.com> wrote:

> On 2022-01-11 17:48, Blake McBride wrote (in part):
>
>
> 4.  Knuth is getting up in age.  Someone will have to take over.
>
>
> Someone has: https://www.latex-project.org/latex3/
>

Although that page talks about LaTeX (a macro package) a lot, it doesn't
mention support for TeX (the actual processor).

Tex is like troff
LaTeX is like mm or ms

Blake McBride

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• `[parent not found: <E3CC4B8A-4E88-4339-A4D3-4ED26BA80620@gmail.com>]`
• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
@ 2022-01-12  0:44                 ` Jon Forrest
2022-01-12  2:00                   ` Blake McBride
0 siblings, 1 reply; 45+ messages in thread
From: Jon Forrest @ 2022-01-12  0:44 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: tuhs

This is clearly getting off track of TUHS. I'll stop

> *From:* Blake McBride <blake1024@gmail.com>
> *Date:* January 11, 2022 at 2:48:23 PM PST
> *To:* Jon Forrest <nobozo@gmail.com>
> *Cc:* TUHS main list <tuhs@minnie.tuhs.org>
> *Subject:* *[TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))*

> Although I'm not connected with the TeX community, I don't agree with
> much of what you said.
>
> 1.  TeX source to C is fine - stable and works.  It would be
> impossible to rewrite TeX in any other language without introducing
> bugs and incompatibilities. Leaving TeX as-is means that it can be
> converted to other languages too if/when C goes out of style.  TeX
> as-is is exactly what it is.  Anything else wouldn't be TeX.

I agree that Web->C works but it's a major obstacle in doing any
development work on TeX. Try making a major change in the Web source
that requires debugging.

Anything that can pass the TeX Trip Test can be called TeX. I know of
a full C reimplementation that passes the test but the author doesn't
want to make it free software.

There are other rewrites out there that could be candidates but someone
will enough power will have to proclaim one as the official TeX
alternative.

> 2.  Drop DVI?  Are you kidding me?  Although PDF may be popular now,
> that may not be the case 20 years from now.  A device-independent
> format is what is needed, and that's what DVI is.  TeX is guaranteed
> to produce the exact same output 100 years from now.

And .PDF isn't?

.DVI was great until .PDF matured. .DVI has almost no penetration
these days, whereas .PDF is everywhere. I'm not saying that .PDF
will always be the proper alternative but a properly rewritten TeX
should make it much easier to replace .PDF will whatever comes
next.

> 3.  I am curious about memory limitations within TeX.

TeX has various fixed sized memory pools, and contains clever code
to work around limited memory. Some of the newer TeXs,
like LuaTeX, use dynamic allocation but this isn't official.

Given how primitive things were when TeX was developed it's a
miracle it works as well as it does.

> 4.  Knuth is getting up in age.  Someone will have to take over.

Exactly. I don't follow the TeX community so I don't know what

Jon Forrest

• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-12  0:44                 ` Jon Forrest
@ 2022-01-12  2:00                   ` Blake McBride
2022-01-12  2:10                     ` David Arnold
2022-01-12 19:54                     ` John Cowan
0 siblings, 2 replies; 45+ messages in thread
From: Blake McBride @ 2022-01-12  2:00 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: Jon Forrest; +Cc: TUHS main list

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On Tue, Jan 11, 2022 at 6:45 PM Jon Forrest <nobozo@gmail.com> wrote:

>  I know of
> a full C reimplementation that passes the test but the author doesn't
> want to make it free software.
>

Although it is possible, I find this hard to believe.  I can't imagine
spending as much time as would be required to duplicate something that

>
> There are other rewrites out there that could be candidates but someone
> will enough power will have to proclaim one as the official TeX
> alternative.
>

Again, hard to believe.

>
>  > 2.  Drop DVI?  Are you kidding me?  Although PDF may be popular now,
>  > that may not be the case 20 years from now.  A device-independent
>  > format is what is needed, and that's what DVI is.  TeX is guaranteed
>  > to produce the exact same output 100 years from now.
>
> And .PDF isn't?
>

No.  It isn't.  It is an Adobe product.

>
> .DVI was great until .PDF matured. .DVI has almost no penetration
> these days, whereas .PDF is everywhere.

DVI was never meant to have any penetration.  It was always intended to be
an intermediary format.

> I'm not saying that .PDF
> will always be the proper alternative but a properly rewritten TeX
> should make it much easier to replace .PDF will whatever comes
> next.
>

Again, given the complexity of a proper TeX, and its declining popularity,
I find it ver hard to believe that someone would spend the time to
duplicate, with enhancements, it.

Blake McBride

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• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-12  2:00                   ` Blake McBride
@ 2022-01-12  2:10                     ` David Arnold
2022-01-12  2:26                       ` Adam Thornton
2022-01-12 19:54                     ` John Cowan
1 sibling, 1 reply; 45+ messages in thread
From: David Arnold @ 2022-01-12  2:10 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: Blake McBride; +Cc: TUHS main list

[-- Attachment #1: Type: text/plain, Size: 532 bytes --]

<…>

>>  > 2.  Drop DVI?  Are you kidding me?  Although PDF may be popular now,
>>  > that may not be the case 20 years from now.  A device-independent
>>  > format is what is needed, and that's what DVI is.  TeX is guaranteed
>>  > to produce the exact same output 100 years from now.
>>
>> And .PDF isn't?
>
> No.  It isn't.  It is an Adobe product.

Check out ISO 32000-2:2020.

I think it’s ok in 2022 to say that PDF has escaped Adobe and is an open standard, suitable for long-life documents, etc.

d

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• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-12  2:10                     ` David Arnold
@ 2022-01-12  2:26                       ` Adam Thornton
0 siblings, 0 replies; 45+ messages in thread
From: Adam Thornton @ 2022-01-12  2:26 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: TUHS main list

[-- Attachment #1: Type: text/plain, Size: 1086 bytes --]

Knuth made an excellent point, maybe in _Coders At Work_ about literate
programming and why it didn't catch on: in general, about 1 out of 20
people can be a really good programmer.  In general, one of 20 people can
be a really good writer.  These talents are largely uncorrelated.

Sure, being competent at either is a teachable skill.  But no one wants to
read either a program or a narrative written by someone who's merely OK at
it.

On Tue, Jan 11, 2022 at 7:20 PM David Arnold <davida@pobox.com> wrote:

> <…>
>
>  > 2.  Drop DVI?  Are you kidding me?  Although PDF may be popular now,
>>  > that may not be the case 20 years from now.  A device-independent
>>  > format is what is needed, and that's what DVI is.  TeX is guaranteed
>>  > to produce the exact same output 100 years from now.
>>
>> And .PDF isn't?
>>
>
> No.  It isn't.  It is an Adobe product.
>
>
> Check out ISO 32000-2:2020.
>
> I think it’s ok in 2022 to say that PDF has escaped Adobe and is an open
> standard, suitable for long-life documents, etc.
>
>
>
> d
>

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• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-12  2:00                   ` Blake McBride
2022-01-12  2:10                     ` David Arnold
@ 2022-01-12 19:54                     ` John Cowan
2022-01-13 10:13                       ` Thomas Paulsen
1 sibling, 1 reply; 45+ messages in thread
From: John Cowan @ 2022-01-12 19:54 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: Blake McBride; +Cc: TUHS main list

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On Tue, Jan 11, 2022 at 9:01 PM Blake McBride <blake1024@gmail.com> wrote:

> 2.  Drop DVI?  Are you kidding me?  Although PDF may be popular now,
>>
>  > that may not be the case 20 years from now.  A device-independent
>>  > format is what is needed, and that's what DVI is.  TeX is guaranteed
>>  > to produce the exact same output 100 years from now.
>>
>
Well, provided there are DVI-to-whatever converters then. it's a systems
problem.  What we really need is gcc support for some processor that is
easy to emulate (at least the userland).  Historically that was MIPS; now
it's probably RISC/V.  Or, I suppose, MMIX; there is a very partial Verilog
description at <https://github.com/tommythorn/fpgammix> that would make it
possible to create a hardware integer MMIX CPU using FPGAs.

And .PDF isn't?
>>
>
> No.  It isn't.  It is an Adobe product.
>

Up to a point, Minister.  PDF/A is an ISO standard that tracks PDF 1.4 or
PDF 1.7.  It is meant for creating archivable PDFs, so it excludes linked
fonts (as opposed to embedded ones, which are allowed), JavaScript,
audio/video, encryption, external references, etc.  For troff purposes, we
don't need any of that, so it's just a matter of setting the metadata
correctly.  ISO standards can be withdrawn, but they remain available; I
doubt this one will be, since libraries are depending on it.  There are
lots of FLOSS toolkits to generate PDFs.

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• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-12 19:54                     ` John Cowan
@ 2022-01-13 10:13                       ` Thomas Paulsen
2022-01-13 20:00                         ` John Cowan
0 siblings, 1 reply; 45+ messages in thread
From: Thomas Paulsen @ 2022-01-13 10:13 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: John Cowan; +Cc: tuhs

nevertheless it's still an Adobe product.

--- Ursprüngliche Nachricht ---
Von: John Cowan <cowan@ccil.org>
Datum: 12.01.2022 20:54:34
An: Blake McBride <blake1024@gmail.com>
Betreff: Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))

• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-13 10:13                       ` Thomas Paulsen
@ 2022-01-13 20:00                         ` John Cowan
0 siblings, 0 replies; 45+ messages in thread
From: John Cowan @ 2022-01-13 20:00 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: Thomas Paulsen; +Cc: TUHS main list

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Only in the sense that Fortran is an IBM product.  (IBM's Fortran compilers
and runtimes are IBM products, but that's another matter.)

On Thu, Jan 13, 2022 at 5:13 AM Thomas Paulsen <thomas.paulsen@firemail.de>
wrote:

> nevertheless it's still an Adobe product.
>
> --- Ursprüngliche Nachricht ---
> Von: John Cowan <cowan@ccil.org>
> Datum: 12.01.2022 20:54:34
> An: Blake McBride <blake1024@gmail.com>
> Betreff: Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
>
> an Adobe product.
>
>
>

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• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-10 19:00         ` Blake McBride
2022-01-10 20:21           ` Jon Forrest
@ 2022-01-10 20:33           ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-10 20:37             ` Richard Salz
2022-01-12  1:19             ` Mary Ann Horton
2022-01-10 20:46           ` Steffen Nurpmeso
2 siblings, 2 replies; 45+ messages in thread
From: Larry McVoy @ 2022-01-10 20:33 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: Blake McBride; +Cc: TUHS main list, Douglas McIlroy

On Mon, Jan 10, 2022 at 01:00:15PM -0600, Blake McBride wrote:
> 2.  Looking at the output, it is my opinion that TeX produces
> better-looking documents.

It's a double edged sword.  TeX looks better but you instantly know it is
TeX, it has a particular look.  Troff looks just fine to me, and you don't
know it is Troff, Word, or what.

• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-10 20:33           ` Larry McVoy
@ 2022-01-10 20:37             ` Richard Salz
2022-01-10 21:04               ` Dan Cross
2022-01-12  1:19             ` Mary Ann Horton
1 sibling, 1 reply; 45+ messages in thread
From: Richard Salz @ 2022-01-10 20:37 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: Larry McVoy; +Cc: TUHS main list, Douglas McIlroy

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> It's a double edged sword.  TeX looks better but you instantly know it is
> TeX, it has a particular look.  Troff looks just fine to me, and you don't
> know it is Troff, Word, or what.
>

Oh, does *roff support Comic Sans now?

Less flippantly, I know it's TeX is probably mostly about the fonts.

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• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-10 20:37             ` Richard Salz
@ 2022-01-10 21:04               ` Dan Cross
2022-01-10 21:48                 ` Nemo Nusquam
2022-01-11  2:25                 ` Lyndon Nerenberg (VE7TFX/VE6BBM)
0 siblings, 2 replies; 45+ messages in thread
From: Dan Cross @ 2022-01-10 21:04 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: Richard Salz; +Cc: TUHS main list, Douglas McIlroy

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On Mon, Jan 10, 2022 at 3:37 PM Richard Salz <rich.salz@gmail.com> wrote:

>
> It's a double edged sword.  TeX looks better but you instantly know it is
>> TeX, it has a particular look.  Troff looks just fine to me, and you don't
>> know it is Troff, Word, or what.
>>
>
> Oh, does *roff support Comic Sans now?
>

This is interesting; I've always felt like I could pick out troff pretty
readily; I agree that TeX has a certain "look" to it (at least by default),
but I always felt the same about troff as well.

Less flippantly, I know it's TeX is probably mostly about the fonts.
>

Agreed, I suspect the same is true of my subjective interpretation of troff
as well. Well, with TeX, it's the fonts and the math.

- Dan C.

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• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-10 21:04               ` Dan Cross
@ 2022-01-10 21:48                 ` Nemo Nusquam
2022-01-11  2:25                 ` Lyndon Nerenberg (VE7TFX/VE6BBM)
1 sibling, 0 replies; 45+ messages in thread
From: Nemo Nusquam @ 2022-01-10 21:48 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: tuhs

On 2022-01-10 16:04, Dan Cross wrote (in part):
> Well, with TeX, it's the fonts and the math.

Well, my preferred font with LaTeX is Palatino.

N.

• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-10 21:04               ` Dan Cross
2022-01-10 21:48                 ` Nemo Nusquam
@ 2022-01-11  2:25                 ` Lyndon Nerenberg (VE7TFX/VE6BBM)
2022-01-11  2:47                   ` Larry McVoy
1 sibling, 1 reply; 45+ messages in thread
From: Lyndon Nerenberg (VE7TFX/VE6BBM) @ 2022-01-11  2:25 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: Dan Cross; +Cc: TUHS main list, Douglas McIlroy

Dan Cross writes:

> This is interesting; I've always felt like I could pick out troff pretty
> readily; I agree that TeX has a certain "look" to it (at least by default),
> but I always felt the same about troff as well.

My guess this is more about how ms(7) does page layout.  I can spot
those documents from a mile away :-)

But older versions of troff can often be spotted by how box corners
don't always line up properly.

A lot of people get turned off by how troff markup can often look
like line noise.  That's true, but if you spend the time to actually
learn the syntax (and it's really not that hard), you can't help
but be overwhelmed by the beauty of its self-consistency.  Although
after three decades I still can't wrap my head around traps and
diversions :-P

--lyndon

• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-11  2:25                 ` Lyndon Nerenberg (VE7TFX/VE6BBM)
@ 2022-01-11  2:47                   ` Larry McVoy
0 siblings, 0 replies; 45+ messages in thread
From: Larry McVoy @ 2022-01-11  2:47 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: Lyndon Nerenberg (VE7TFX/VE6BBM); +Cc: TUHS main list, Douglas McIlroy

On Mon, Jan 10, 2022 at 06:25:08PM -0800, Lyndon Nerenberg (VE7TFX/VE6BBM) wrote:
> but be overwhelmed by the beauty of its self-consistency.  Although
> after three decades I still can't wrap my head around traps and
> diversions :-P

Traps are easy, end of the page.  Diversions are easy, it's a bucket
to put stuff in.  Environments are harder.

• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-10 20:33           ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-10 20:37             ` Richard Salz
@ 2022-01-12  1:19             ` Mary Ann Horton
2022-01-12  2:03               ` Blake McBride
` (2 more replies)
1 sibling, 3 replies; 45+ messages in thread
From: Mary Ann Horton @ 2022-01-12  1:19 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: tuhs

I recall attending a TeX lecture by Knuth around 1981. He said he wasn't
satisfied with the character layout from other formatting programs,
which drove him to write TeX. He illustrated in great detail the kerning
and exact placement of the font characters next to each other. I
couldn't tell the difference, but clearly it was very important to him.
He wanted his documents to look perfect.

On 1/10/22 12:33 PM, Larry McVoy wrote:
> On Mon, Jan 10, 2022 at 01:00:15PM -0600, Blake McBride wrote:
>> 2.  Looking at the output, it is my opinion that TeX produces
>> better-looking documents.
> It's a double edged sword.  TeX looks better but you instantly know it is
> TeX, it has a particular look.  Troff looks just fine to me, and you don't
> know it is Troff, Word, or what.

• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-12  1:19             ` Mary Ann Horton
@ 2022-01-12  2:03               ` Blake McBride
2022-01-12  2:10               ` Bakul Shah
2022-01-12 16:48               ` Steffen Nurpmeso
2 siblings, 0 replies; 45+ messages in thread
From: Blake McBride @ 2022-01-12  2:03 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: Mary Ann Horton; +Cc: TUHS main list

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On Tue, Jan 11, 2022 at 7:20 PM Mary Ann Horton <mah@mhorton.net> wrote:

> I recall attending a TeX lecture by Knuth around 1981. He said he wasn't
> satisfied with the character layout from other formatting programs,
> which drove him to write TeX. He illustrated in great detail the kerning
> and exact placement of the font characters next to each other. I
> couldn't tell the difference, but clearly it was very important to him.
> He wanted his documents to look perfect.
>

Yes!  That goes to one of my original points.  While it is true that CM
fonts have a particular look that may be interpreted as "better", there is
a lot more to it.

Blake McBride

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• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-12  1:19             ` Mary Ann Horton
2022-01-12  2:03               ` Blake McBride
@ 2022-01-12  2:10               ` Bakul Shah
2022-01-12  3:44                 ` Dan Cross
2022-01-12 16:48               ` Steffen Nurpmeso
2 siblings, 1 reply; 45+ messages in thread
From: Bakul Shah @ 2022-01-12  2:10 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: TUHS main list

Don Knuth talks at length about how TeX & MetaFont came about etc. in his Web of Stories interview in parts 50 through 70. In Part 56 he does say he looked at "the system developed at Bell Labs", presumably troff. In part 68 he talks about the importance of stability fot TeX and later talks about LaTeX and ConTeXt.

I must say I am a fan of TeX/LaTeX and not a fan of nroff/troff -- I don't like the troff look and I don't like the markup. The nice thing is we can choose whatever typesetting tools we want! I played with other alternatives such as lout and Sile but didn't like them all that much. I immediately liked the TeX's model of boxes and glue. I like the fact that I can typeset Indic language text beautifully. But like any complex tool, you have to take time to learn it and practice to get proficient at it.

At the same time I am not a fan of the way Knuth does literate programming. What I'd like is a two view editor where I can jump from code to related documentation and vice versa. And when you're working on one, the related part in the other view highlighted. In this world I don't want to deal with files and directories -- just one virtual document, however it is stored put under version control!

> On Jan 11, 2022, at 5:19 PM, Mary Ann Horton <mah@mhorton.net> wrote:
>
> I recall attending a TeX lecture by Knuth around 1981. He said he wasn't satisfied with the character layout from other formatting programs, which drove him to write TeX. He illustrated in great detail the kerning and exact placement of the font characters next to each other. I couldn't tell the difference, but clearly it was very important to him. He wanted his documents to look perfect.
>
> On 1/10/22 12:33 PM, Larry McVoy wrote:
>> On Mon, Jan 10, 2022 at 01:00:15PM -0600, Blake McBride wrote:
>>> 2.  Looking at the output, it is my opinion that TeX produces
>>> better-looking documents.
>> It's a double edged sword.  TeX looks better but you instantly know it is
>> TeX, it has a particular look.  Troff looks just fine to me, and you don't
>> know it is Troff, Word, or what.

• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-12  2:10               ` Bakul Shah
@ 2022-01-12  3:44                 ` Dan Cross
0 siblings, 0 replies; 45+ messages in thread
From: Dan Cross @ 2022-01-12  3:44 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: Bakul Shah; +Cc: TUHS main list

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On Tue, Jan 11, 2022 at 9:11 PM Bakul Shah <bakul@iitbombay.org> wrote:
> Don Knuth talks at length about how TeX & MetaFont came about etc. in his
Web of Stories interview in parts 50 through 70. In Part 56 he does say he
looked at "the system developed at Bell Labs", presumably troff.

Among the Bell Labs technical reports I read when I was younger, a trilogy
by MD McIlroy on the challenges drawing ellipses stand out:

These stuck in my mind and some relatively short time later, I read how the
analogous problem was approached in TeX. The solution there was to treat
the shape as if it were drawn using a pen with a diamond-shaped nib. From
the MetaFont book:

Similarly, some diagonal lines of slope~1 digitize to be twice as dark as
others, when a truly
circular pen is considered. But the diamond-shaped nib that \MF\ uses
for a pencircle of diameter~1 does not have this defect; all straight
lines of the same slope will digitize to lines of uniform darkness.
Moreover, curved lines drawn with the diamond nib always yield one pixel per
column when they move more-or-less horizontally (with slopes between \$+1\$
and \$-1\$), and they always yield one pixel per row when they move
vertically.
By contrast, the outlines of curves drawn with circular pens produce
occasional ``blots.'' Circles and ellipses of all diameters can profitably
be replaced by polygons whose sub-pixel corrections to the ideal shape
will produce better digitizations; \MF\ does this in accordance with the
interesting theory developed by John~D. ^{Hobby} in his Ph.D.
dissertation (Stanford University, 1985).

If I can be so bold as to offer an interpretation: Doug's approximations
treat ellipses as mathematical objects and algorithmically determine what
pixels are closest to points on the infinitesimally-thin curves, while
Knuth's (or one his students') method acknowledges that the curve has a
width defined by the nib; any "pixel" the nib touches becomes part of the
figure. Perhaps I'm wrong on the details, but it hardly matters; my point
is that there was clearly interesting work done in the area in both places.
I find it impossible that neither Knuth nor Hobby were unaware of McIlroy's
work and vice-versa; of course he would have known about and examined troff
just as the Bell Labs folks knew about TeX. These were hot areas of
practical research! This is also a good reminder that not only was Unix
itself a subject of research, but it supported a lot of other research at
Bell Labs and elsewhere. On this list, we tend to focus on the tool, but
that tool was put to use building many more things as well.

> [snip]
> I must say I am a fan of TeX/LaTeX and not a fan of nroff/troff -- I
don't like the troff look and I don't like the markup.

I've always admired the look of troff. I wonder if, in retrospect, that is
due to me mentally tying the presentation with so many formative documents
that were strong early influences. Similarly, I love the look of Tex (even
the CM fonts). They are of course different, but I find each beautiful in
different ways.

> The nice thing is we can choose whatever typesetting tools we want!

This!

- Dan C.

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• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-12  1:19             ` Mary Ann Horton
2022-01-12  2:03               ` Blake McBride
2022-01-12  2:10               ` Bakul Shah
@ 2022-01-12 16:48               ` Steffen Nurpmeso
2 siblings, 0 replies; 45+ messages in thread
From: Steffen Nurpmeso @ 2022-01-12 16:48 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: Mary Ann Horton; +Cc: tuhs

Mary Ann Horton wrote in
|I recall attending a TeX lecture by Knuth around 1981. He said he wasn't
|satisfied with the character layout from other formatting programs,
|which drove him to write TeX. He illustrated in great detail the kerning
|and exact placement of the font characters next to each other. I
|couldn't tell the difference, but clearly it was very important to him.
|He wanted his documents to look perfect.

I find with proof-reading roff provides very pleasant results; the
german translation of K&R Programming in C (2nd Ed., ANSI C; so
many credits to people on this list!!!) was produced in roff
(Liangs hyphenation, Kernighans pic, Lesks tbl, Kernighan and
Cherrys eqn, XENIX-adjusted d-i troff of ELAN; November 1989), it
could not look better.

I personally feel peeved when my documents do not look acceptable,
but, other than that, from computer documents i do miss the
spiritual, the contemplative and meditative side that
calligraphically beautiful documents represent.  Just recently for
example a Thora that was saved from the flames reappeared here in
Germany, it would be yet another massive loss of culture if this
became binary or quantum.

--steffen
|
|Der Kragenbaer,                The moon bear,
|der holt sich munter           he cheerfully and one by one
|einen nach dem anderen runter  wa.ks himself off
|(By Robert Gernhardt)

• ```* Re: [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
2022-01-10 19:00         ` Blake McBride
2022-01-10 20:21           ` Jon Forrest
2022-01-10 20:33           ` Larry McVoy
@ 2022-01-10 20:46           ` Steffen Nurpmeso
2 siblings, 0 replies; 45+ messages in thread
From: Steffen Nurpmeso @ 2022-01-10 20:46 UTC (permalink / raw)
To: Blake McBride; +Cc: TUHS main list, Douglas McIlroy

Blake McBride wrote in
<CABwHSOuMxgEJnNUczbcGhA_939q_XfwCLyqacaGpz3+AjdSqSQ@mail.gmail.com>:
|I've used nroff/troff/TeX with many of their various macro packages over
|about a 35 years span.  During that time, I've done many single-page
|documents as well as documents as long as 350 pages.  I also modified a
|version of nroff to create business forms for Laster printers.  This is
|still being used commercially.  This is one person's opinion:
|
|1.  Perhaps owing to my limited intelligence, and in spite of the fact that
|I've used TeX successfully on many documents, I have never been able to
|fully understand TeX.  Apparently, it is too much for me.  Troff, on the
|other hand, has made full sense to me.  I was able to make it do what I
|wanted almost always.  I enjoy using troff more because I find it simpler,
|and therefore, more pleasant to use.
|
|2.  Looking at the output, it is my opinion that TeX produces
|better-looking documents.  Perhaps this is just no more than one man's
|esthetic opinion.  I do not know what it is that I find better.  It's just
|the sense I get.  On the other hand, I find troff output to be sufficiently
|good in nearly all cases.

Note that heirloom doctools (on github) is a SysV-derived *roff
codebase which has been extended to use TeX paragraph algorithm,
font kerning, true type fonts, etc.
You need to explicitly code your macros to use these features.

|3.  troff is a good and reasonable tool.  TeX is too big and complex an
|environment in most cases.  Although it is true that all of the complexity
|of the TeX environment is successfully hidden in virtually all cases.  I
|find the huge and complex environment offputting.

That is overly not true.  You can start off with nothing but what
TeX loads by default, plus epsf.tex and maybe colordvi.tex for
some use cases and you have everything you need.
I have never used it, but there is kertex and i am tracking it
since, eh, July 2012.  It is maintained.  It is just the bare
core, but includes more than i ever needed

#?0|kent:kertex.tar_bomb_git\$ git loca|wc -l
20
#?0|kent:kertex.tar_bomb_git\$ du -sh .
13M     .

|Very unfortunately, I see troff disappearing.  I've worked with a number of
|teams over the last ten years.  In every case, I was the oldest engineer.
|Also, in each case, I was the only engineer who had even heard of troff.
|They understand the problems of binary formats such as Word and
|OpenOffice.  Their solutions are things like markdown, AsciiDoc, et al.
|They are doing this development and making use of these tools without
|knowledge of troff.  The same is true to a greater or lesser degree with
|TeX, except that I've seen TeX used at universities.
|
|I like that groff and TeX are rock solid and well supported.  In fact, I
|wrote a report generator for a modern web development framework using
|troff.  I use it to develop reports on a routine basis.  (kissweb.org)
|Sadly, however, if word of their existence doesn't get out there, I see
|them both disappearing in not much longer than a generation.  This would be

Gee, the current hip top of the pops is to not even include
generated documentation in release tarballs no more!
Heck, i even know a project that took a year-long-not-modified
manual page and converted it into some so-called text format.
It thus needs a software which happily announces itself as "ronn:
the opposite of roff", yieha!  I mean ruby ok, there are some such
tools which require Haskell, which in turn requires a binary
runtime package (or a huuuuge source ball).
No no, really not.

I mean really.  You develop it, you decide it is time for
a release, you do test the convertability do you, why not include
the 10 kilobytes for your is-anyway-almost-a-stub manual??
In fact these balls nowadays include .github subirectories for
github workflows, which is much larger than the manual.  Sigh.

--steffen
|
|Der Kragenbaer,                The moon bear,
|der holt sich munter           he cheerfully and one by one
|einen nach dem anderen runter  wa.ks himself off
|(By Robert Gernhardt)

```end of thread, other threads:[~2022-01-13 20:01 UTC | newest]

Thread overview: 45+ messages (download: mbox.gz / follow: Atom feed)
2022-01-12  2:49 [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7)) Jon Steinhart
2022-01-12 10:38 ` Ralph Corderoy
2022-01-12 17:53   ` Jon Steinhart
2022-01-12 18:27     ` G. Branden Robinson
2022-01-12 19:02       ` John Cowan
-- strict thread matches above, loose matches on Subject: below --
2022-01-13 17:31 Douglas McIlroy
2022-01-11 13:37 Nelson H. F. Beebe
2022-01-10 21:12 Bakul Shah
2022-01-10 21:06 Jon Steinhart
2022-01-11 11:06 ` Ralph Corderoy
2022-01-11 14:52   ` John Cowan
2021-12-31 15:47 [TUHS] roff(7) Douglas McIlroy
2021-12-31 23:07 ` George Michaelson
2021-12-31 23:40   ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-01  0:56     ` [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7)) Greg 'groggy' Lehey
2022-01-01  3:15       ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-10 19:00         ` Blake McBride
2022-01-10 20:21           ` Jon Forrest
2022-01-11 22:48             ` Blake McBride
2022-01-11 23:18               ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-12  1:19                 ` Dave Horsfall
2022-01-12  1:46                 ` Blake McBride
2022-01-12  2:12                 ` Bakul Shah
2022-01-12 15:49                   ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-12 16:22                     ` Adam Thornton
2022-01-12  0:06               ` Jon Steinhart
2022-01-12  1:48                 ` Blake McBride
2022-01-12  0:29               ` Nemo Nusquam
2022-01-12  1:53                 ` Blake McBride
2022-01-12  0:44                 ` Jon Forrest
2022-01-12  2:00                   ` Blake McBride
2022-01-12  2:10                     ` David Arnold
2022-01-12  2:26                       ` Adam Thornton
2022-01-12 19:54                     ` John Cowan
2022-01-13 10:13                       ` Thomas Paulsen
2022-01-13 20:00                         ` John Cowan
2022-01-10 20:33           ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-10 20:37             ` Richard Salz
2022-01-10 21:04               ` Dan Cross
2022-01-10 21:48                 ` Nemo Nusquam
2022-01-11  2:25                 ` Lyndon Nerenberg (VE7TFX/VE6BBM)
2022-01-11  2:47                   ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-12  1:19             ` Mary Ann Horton
2022-01-12  2:03               ` Blake McBride
2022-01-12  2:10               ` Bakul Shah
2022-01-12  3:44                 ` Dan Cross
2022-01-12 16:48               ` Steffen Nurpmeso
2022-01-10 20:46           ` Steffen Nurpmeso
```

```This is a public inbox, see mirroring instructions
for how to clone and mirror all data and code used for this inbox;
as well as URLs for NNTP newsgroup(s).```