Subject: Re: bin/7249
To: Jim Reid <>
From: Mike Cheponis <mac@Wireless.Com>
List: tech-kern
Date: 07/17/2000 14:17:25
On Mon, 17 Jul 2000, Jim Reid wrote:

> >>>>> "Mike" == Mike Cheponis <mac@Wireless.Com> writes:
>     Mike> The problem, of course, is that it's a single "flat file"
>     Mike> type of man database.  If the man pages were html, with
>     Mike> links to deeper documentation levels (even automatically
>     Mike> generated documentation), that would be better.
> Not better, just different. Some people like and want to be able to
> read things without needing to have a computer swtich pixels on and
> off so that the information can be seen.


>     Mike> I propose junking man pages as we know them, keeping all
>     Mike> documentation in html, and making the man command
>     Mike> essentially a stripped-down lynx (or other specialized
>     Mike> text-based browser).
> What's *really* wrong with the printed word?
> The idea of putting documentation only in HTML format is utterly
> repulsive. [Let's not even consider the dubious arguments about
> whether HTML is an appropriate medium for documentation or has the
> required functionality.] Why should someone be forced to have to bring
> up X and start a core-guzzling browser, *just to read some man page*?

I'm afraid you didn't read or possibly didn't understand my post.

I suggested using lynx - a fully text-based browser - precisely because I
recognize the advantages of text.  And, I pointed out, the README files
in /usr/pkgsrc are all "README.html".  (However, if you -are- reading
these "newman" pages with a graphics browser, the pages can perhaps me more
pretty and perhaps embed small graphics.)

I said -nothing- in my post about X.  Re-read what I said if you like.

> The idea is nuts. [Don't forget that some netbsd platforms can't/won't
> run X.] What next, require that browser to have sundry plug-ins, just
> so the documentation can be read in whatever fad-of-the-month happens
> to be in vogue today? Inventing a special lynx reader as an
> alternative to that is just silly.

In fact, I consider "man" (a troff filter) to be mechanically just like
lynx.  Don't you see why?

>The concept of man pages is not
> broken IMHO, so it doesn't need fixing. And what if the man page you
> want to read is for the web browser that you can't get to start or
> display man pages properly? Putting all the man pages into HTML (and
> only HTML) is about as sensible as putting them all into Word
> format. In fact, Word format would be slightly better in some respects
> because it does have some (admittedly flawed) concepts for supporting
> document structure.

FWIW, all Microsoft DDK documentation is in HTML.

> Note that I'm not against the idea of offering an HTML capability.
> But this should be an extension - not a replacement! -  to the current
> documentation that has served us so well for so long. If man pages
> were good enough for Ken & Dennis, they should be good enough for you
> and me.

If it was good enough for Ken and Dennis 30 years ago, is it -still- good
enough for Ken and Dennis -today- ?

> Someone once said that if the only tool you had was a hammer, every
> problem would look like a nail. Well, UNIX systems have more tools
> available than a just web browser.

I'm afraid I don't understand this at all.