bugGNU roff - Bugs: bug #64526, Retool example of using newlines...


bug #64526: Retool example of using newlines as escape delimiters

Submitter:  Dave <barx>
Submitted:  Mon 07 Aug 2023 06:34:40 PM UTC
Category:  Core Severity:  1 - Wish
Item Group:  Documentation Status:  None
Privacy:  Public Assigned to:  None
Open/Closed:  Open Planned Release:  None
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Mon 07 Aug 2023 06:34:40 PM UTC, original submission:  

Bug #63028 seeks to document some \o limitations in certain devices.  As is my wont, I wandered afield from this topic in its comment 3, writing about the documentation for using newlines as escape-sequence delimiters.  (The example in question does use the \o escape.  But the \o in that example isn't the point of the example, merely an arbitrarily chosen escape of the ones that accept newlines as delimiters.)

That wandering is the focus of this bug report.


Bug #63142 seeks to deprecate allowing newlines as escape delimiters.  But even if this goes through, there'll presumably be some number of groff releases that allow but warn about the practice, so in that meantime, the documentation about it ought to be improved.

The bug

Nowadays, most of groff's Texinfo examples try to exhibit groff best practices, but the manual does have an example that uses \o to produce an accented character.

A caf\o
in Paris
    @result{} A cafĂ© in Paris

Despite this not being a good way in general to place diacritics on characters (it's particularly ill suited to the letter i, which must shed its dot when it acquires a diacritic), the advantage to using it in an example that many readers will view on a terminal is that a terminal can give meaningful output for it (albeit not through the \o mechanism but by using the appropriate precomposed character).  This would not be the case with an example that actually requires the overstrike to do its job, such as this style-nerdy one:

\[lq]I'm torn between US and UK punctuation styles\o
she lamented.

However, taking context into account: this example isn't even trying to illustrate the \o escape, but groff's ability to use newlines as escape-sequence delimiters.  So maybe a different escape altogether would do this job without the side effect of choosing between best-practice groff code and terminal-displayable output (notwithstanding the fact that using newlines as delimiters is certainly not a best practice itself.  But at least that is discouraged in the very next sentence.  There's no comment on the overstriking-to-apply-diacritics aspect of the example--and such a warning would be out of place here, since the use of \o is not the point of this section).

I don't have a suggestion offhand of a better escape for this; I'd need to peruse the list of escapes that accept newlines as delimiters and choose one that can produce output that would render well on a terminal.

Dave <barx>
Group Member


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