bugGNU troff - Bugs: bug #55124, doc/groff.texi: text about...


bug #55124: doc/groff.texi: text about negative .pl values needs clarification

Submitter:  Dave <barx>
Submitted:  Wed 28 Nov 2018 03:13:30 PM UTC
Category:  Core Severity:  3 - Normal
Item Group:  Documentation Status:  None
Privacy:  Public Assigned to:  None
Open/Closed:  Open Planned Release:  None
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Wed 10 Nov 2021 12:10:11 AM UTC, comment #2: 

The idea of changing .pl's behavior, as floated in comment #1, has now been spun off into bug #61453.  The present bug is now concerned only with disambiguating the documentation to better explain the current behavior.  That is, disregard comment #1 and read only comment #0.

Dave <barx>
Project Member
Mon 17 Dec 2018 03:49:07 AM UTC, comment #1: 

Regarding point (2): it's also worth considering changing .pl's behavior to the more useful option.  It can't be too detrimental to back compatibility to change behavior that the documentation already admits is rather useless.

Further, the current way to get a single long page (documented under the .em macro) is a bit of a crude hack that prevents footnotes (or other diverted text placed relative to the page bottom) from being output.  Making groff interpret a negative .pl value as an infinitely long page could provide a simpler and less error-prone way to achieve this result.

Dave <barx>
Project Member
Wed 28 Nov 2018 03:13:30 PM UTC, original submission:  

Part of the .pl section of the info manual states:

Negative @code{pl} values are possible also, but not very useful: No trap is sprung, and each line is output on a single page

This contains a couple of ambiguities:

(1) "No trap is sprung": This wording makes it sound like this is referring to a specific trap; otherwise, it would say "no traps are sprung," or "no traps of type (x) are sprung."  But no specific trap is mentioned in this section.  The paragraph before refers to traps in a general sense for setting top and bottom margins; these are usually page-location traps, which indeed are not sprung with negative .pl values.  But input line traps, for example, are sprung.  I haven't comprehensively tested which types of traps are sprung and which aren't, so I don't yet have a suggested replacement wording.

(2) "each line is output on a single page": This could be read two different ways: all output is on a single, unending page; or each line of output starts a new page.  The second is what actually happens (which is an odd choice, as the first would be useful for TTY output, while it's hard to imagine a real-world use for the second--a fact the documentation even acknowledges by calling the behavior "not very useful"), so the wording should say this more unambiguously.

Dave <barx>
Project Member


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