comp.text Frequently Asked Questions

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Chris Lewis

Oct 29, 2002, 1:00:02 AM10/29/02
Archive-name: text-faq
Last-Modified: Wed Jun 2 08:38:35 EDT 1999

Frequently Asked Questions for comp.text
Chris Lewis

Copyright 1991 - 1995.

Redistribution for profit, or with altered
content/format prohibited without permission
of the author. Redistribution via printed book
or CDROM expressly prohibited without consent of
the author. Any other redistribution must
include this copyright notice and attribution.

(This list was originally compiled by Nils-Peter Nelson, with
contributions from Jaap Akkerhuis, Dick Dunn, Nick Haines, Steve
Harley, Harro Kremer, Chris Lewis, John Macdonald, Bob Morris,
Nils-Peter Nelson, Chip Rosenthal.)

If you have comments or additions, please contact Chris Lewis, (note Reply-to).

Changes are marked with a "|" in left column. Many newsreaders
(e.g. rn, trn) allow you to search for them with "g^|".

Changes this issue: - New URLs for troff manual and tutorial

Subject: Questions discussed:

General interest:

GN1. What is the difference between word processing, desktop
publishing, technical publishing, electronic publishing, etc?
GN2. Which do I need?
GN3. What is a markup language?
GN4. What is SGML? ODA?
GN5. What is WYSIWYG? Do I need it?
GN6. What is PostScript?
GN7. What is TeX?
GN8. What are some popular Desktop Publishing packages?
GN9. Where can I read more?
GN10. What is Lout?
GN11. What is Grif?
GN12. Where can I find indexing software?
GN13. What is RTF?

Specific to troff:

TR1. What is troff? Why are there so many questions about it?
TR2. How many varieties of troff are there? What are the differences?
TR3. What are some of the filters for troff output?
TR4. What other troff printer drivers are there?
TR5. How do I get my troff to drive my printer?
TR6. None of the mentioned packages support *my* printer. Help?
TR7. How do I embed PostScript in troff?
TR8. What are fonts? How do I add fonts?
TR9. What are width tables?
TR10. How do I make width tables?
TR11. What are: pic, eqn, tbl, grap, refer?
TR12. How do I preview my troff on my screen?
TR13. I need makedev, but my DWB doesn't come with it.
TR14. How can I get nroff/troff for DOS?
TR15. What books can I get about DWB?
TR16. Complete DWB Description

The discussions below are organized in digest-form, so you may
scan ahead for "^Subject:" to move from one topic to the next
(the ^G command does this in rn), and you may search for "^Subject: GN5"
(for example) to jump to the discussion of a particular question.
(The caret "^" before "Subject" is a convention of regular expressions
that restricts the search to match only at the beginning of a line.)

Subject: GN1. What is the difference between word processing, desktop
publishing, technical publishing, electronic publishing, etc?

Electronic Publishing is an all-encompassing term that means
using computers (instead of hot lead) to set type for
documents. Although publishing includes a sequence of
processes right through distribution, EP tends to emphasize
document composition through production of a single master copy.

It is helpful to picture a graph with "complexity" along
the X axis and "length" along the Y axis. Complexity
varies from straight text to footnotes and indexing to
tables to line drawings to gray-scale illustration to
full color. Length varies from 1 page to 10,000 or more
(better make the Y axis logarithmic!)

Word processing dominates the lower left of the graph
(business letters). Desktop publishing dominates the lower
right (advertising layout). Host-based text formatters like
troff, TeX and Scribe dominate the upper-left (phone book).
Proprietary systems have traditionally dominated the upper
right (Sears catalog, encyclopedia); these are being supplanted
by hybrids consisting of pieces from the other segments.

The middle of the graph is fair ground for everyone but is
increasingly the domain of Technical Publication systems like
Interleaf and FrameMaker.

Subject: GN2. Which do I need?

Word processors and Desktop publishers are more than adequate
for documents of tens of pages. Because they are mostly
limited to PCs and Macintosh, they may be impediments in
producing long documents, which would have to be done in
digestible chunks (say, a chapter at a time). High-end systems
are usually UNIX-based, which means computer power and document
capacity are limited only by how much you want to spend.

Subject: GN3. What is a markup language?

All formatters need to distinguish the text to be printed
from instructions about how to print; the latter is called
markup. Procedural markup tells the software what to do
(space down, invoke a macro); generic markup describes the
thing to be printed (heading, cross-reference, etc.) Troff
and TeX are examples of procedural markups; ODA and SGML
prescribe rules for generic languages; and good macro packages
for troff or TeX make them, more-or-less, generic markup

Many of the word processing packages (such as Word or Wordstar)
can only do procedural markup - the software is told by the
user "how to display it", rather than "what this is" - and leaving
the visual representation to preprogrammed rule sets (ie:
macros) - see GN5.

Subject: GN4. What is SGML? ODA?

SGML is the Standard Generalized Markup Language. SGML is defined
in International Standard ISO 8879:1986. SGML is a language for
formally describing the structure and contents of documents. SGML
is also the syntax used by documents so described.

SGML is an important move in the direction of separating information
from its presentation, e.g. making different presentations possible
for the same information. The better macro packages for TeX and
troff attempt to do the same thing. This is in contrast with WYSIWYG -
see GN5.

SGML is more fully discussed in comp.text.sgml.

SGML is the name of a directory at the public FTP site
where you can find a (draft) FAQ, a bibliography, and more information.

ODA: Office [Open] Document Architecture, takes a similar approach
but stresses blind interchange. ODA is defined in the multi-part
standard ISO 8613:1988, in the CCITT T.410 series recommendations,
and in ECMA standard 101.

Subject: GN5. What is WYSIWYG? Do I need it?

What-you-see-is-what-you-get: essential for advertising layout,
but a useless time-waster for a phone book. WYSIWYG is the
opposite of SGML, in that in SGML you know what something
is (say, a chapter heading) but you don't know what it looks
like; in WYSIWYG you know what it looks like but you don't
know what it is. The obvious benefit of WYSIWYG is that the
author is aware at all times of the final appearance of the
document; the liability is that the vendor gets to choose the
internal representation of the document, and may not tell you
what it is.

The best trade-off would be a WYSIWYG system with a well-documented,
usable markup language. There is a system called "GRIF" - see
GN11. The "doc" program in Interviews is a freeware UNIX WYSIWYG

We should caution that few of the self-proclaimed WYSIWYG systems
actually show the exact same thing on screen as you get on a printer:
What You See Is Sort Of Like What You Get. When 300 dpi, 17 inch
terminals are common true WYSIWYG will be practical.

Being aware of the final appearance of a document is not universally
accepted as a "good thing", Robertson Davies has suggested that the
WYSIWYG approach to writing contributes to "blather" (and he should
know as a past master ;-), while others have argued that the final
appearance can't always be known. WYSIWYG processors tend to
encourage an approach that makes re-use and re-packaging of
documents for alternate methods of presentation (eg: on-line
and paper documentation) difficult. Efficiency studies have shown,
for at least certain types of documentation, that documents are
written faster with text processors than WYSIWYGS.

Subject: GN6. What is PostScript?

PostScript is a language for output devices. It does for output
devices what Unix does for processors, viz., it allows a common
software interface despite differences in hardware platform.
PostScript controllers exist for paper printers from 4 pages
per minute up to 92 ppm, from 300 dots per inch to over 6000 dpi
typesetter, and for film recorders, color printers and X Window
terminals. Without PostScript, every text formatter has to
understand the idiosyncrasies of every vendor's hardware.
See comp.lang.PostScript for more. PostScript is a registered
trademark of Adobe Corporation.

Subject: GN7. What is TeX?

TeX is a batch formatter similar to troff developed by Don Knuth
at Stanford. It is most popular in universities and is freely
traded because of the lack of licensing restrictions. ArborText
sells a commercial version for big and small (ie PCs) machines.
There are various versions for PC-class machines. LaTeX (Leslie
Lamports version of TeX) is a more friendly version of the same
formatter. It does for TeX what macros does for troff. See
comp.text.tex for TeX FAQs.

[To be pedantically correct, there are really only very few versions
of TeX. However, the relationship between the formatter and
the macro sets (e.g.: LaTeX) is considerably more blurry in TeX than
troff, and the macro package tends to be compiled-into different
instantiations of TeX. This is truly part of the culture - TeXies
refer to "latex documents", troffers more generally refer to
"troff with mm macros". It's confusing.]

Oh, and to save yourself sounding like an idiot, the "eX" in "TeX"
is pronounced so that it rhymes with "blecchh", not "sex" (the
X is a greek chi).

Subject: GN8. What are some popular Desktop Publishing packages?

Aldus practically invented Desktop publishing with "PageMaker".

WordPerfect and Word are lower in functionality but less
expensive and exist on both DOS and Macintosh (WordPerfect
on UNIX too). These are essentially word-processing packages
rather than Desktop Publishing. WordPerfect and Word are
by far the most popular with millions of copies sold.

See comp.text.desktop for more information. Interleaf
and FrameMaker are workstation-based and are higher in
price and functionality, and require more substantial
machine resources, but give you more in return. FrameMaker
is now available for Windows 3.1, giving transportability
between the DOS/Windows, Mac and UNIX world. See comp.text.desktop,
comp.text.frame and comp.text.interleaf.

Subject: GN9. Where can I read more?

Publish!, Business Publishing and Seybold Report are all
excellent journals for keeping up to date. There are
books devoted to most of the major packages, too many
to mention here.

Richard Rubinstein's book "Digital Typography", Addison-Wesley
is apparently a readable book that goes into the details of
composition systems, fonts and reproduction.

Subject: GN10. What is Lout?

Lout is a new batch formatter drawing a fair bit from TeX and troff.
Its main strengths are a more powerful and much easier to use "macro"
programming language, and is reputed to be as "complete" as TeX or
the troff formatting suite. It only generates PostScript and ascii.

Lout was written by Jeff Kingston ( and
is available via anon FTP from directory "jeff".

Subject: GN11. What is GRIF?

GRIF S.A. has been commercializing its WYSIWYG SGML editor since 1991.
Grif SGML Editor is totally compliant with the SGML standard (ISO 8879)
and offers full WYSIWYG authoring of SGML documents. It is currently
available on both Unix-Motif and PC-Windows platforms and forms part of
GRIF S.A.'s complete range of SGML products. For more information,

Stuart Culshaw
Marketing Assistant
Immeuble "Le Florestan"
2 Boulevard Vauban - BP 266
Tel. : +33 (1)
Fax : +33 (1)

Subject: GN12. Where can I find indexing software?

Liam Quin <> is one of the net "experts" in this field,
and suggests the following:

SMART is from cornell, and is a test-bed for the research done by
Gerald Salton's group; it's also quite widely used by other researchers.

qx (or gx?) is an Australian system that went by on the net recently.

WAIS is a client-server system.

lq-text is my own system.

You can find all of the above (except probably qg/gx since I haven't given
a good enough name) with archie; lq-text 1.13 is at

An _excellent_ book to look at or get or run out and buy is

%A William B. Frakes
%A Baeza-Yates, Ricardo
%T Information Retrieval: Data Structures and Algorithms
%I Prentice-Hall
%D 1992
%O An excellent introduction to the issues in implementing information
retrieval systems. Examples in C for Unix, available by ftp from in pub/reuse/ir-code.
ISBN: 0-13-463837-9

Subject: GN13. What is RTF?

RTF stands for Rich Text Format, and is a document interchange format.
This format has become somewhat popular, and is supported by several
text handling products.


The RTF spec can be found at <> A
hard copy of the spec can also be obtained from Microsoft Product
Support (206) 454-2030.

World Wide Web using URL Look under
"Primate Center Software Archives".

The a series of converter tools is available as a compressed tar
|archive <<version>.tar.Z> containing
source and documentation.

Subject: TR1. What is troff? Why are there so many questions about it?

Troff is one of the oldest text formatters in existence. Because
it was distributed as part of the Unix operating system for
many years, it is by default on several hundred thousand machines,
far more than any other Unix text formatter. It originated
in AT&T Bell Laboratories in 1971 and its author was Joseph
Ossanna. Its legitimate father was a program called runoff,
written at MIT in the 1960's.

Because there is no comp.text.troff, additional questions related
to troff are shown below. The remainder of the FAQ list is
devoted to troff; bail out now if you are not interested.

Subject: TR2. How many varieties of troff are there? What are the differences?

The original Ossanna troff generates proprietary printer codes for the
Wang C/A/T Phototypesetter; we'll call this "CAT Troff". This version
comes bundled in many systems, in particular, SunOS, most other
Berkeley-derived systems, some SVR4s and is contained in the Xenix Text
Processing package. The AT&T, BSD and Xenix variants all differ
slightly, but not in any important ways. CAT troff is useless without
filters to convert the "CAT codes" to something else, especially since
the C/A/T is as common as a California condor. These filters are
described later.

In 1981, Brian Kernighan of Bell Laboratories rewrote troff to generate
a generic typesetting language. These troffs are called "ditroff" (for
device-independent troff) and contain some additional features such as
arbitrary line drawing, and more flexible font handling. "Documenter's
Workbench" (DWB) is a package containing ditroff and several other
typesetting filters. The latest AT&T version is DWB 3.4.1, which sold as
source code; most commercial binary variants (Elan, SoftQuad, Image
Network, etc.) are based on DWB 2.0. The Free Software Foundation
distributes a re-engineered version of ditroff called groff.

If you have a troff and want to know which it is, type:
troff < /dev/null > /dev/null
If it responds with "typesetter busy" or "No /dev/cat; use -t or -a",
you have CAT troff, otherwise it's ditroff. If you get an answer from:
you have the AT&T release 3.0 or later. The differences are too
numerous and subtle to document here, but the variants are about
95% compatible. All are ASCII based, but DWB 3.4, Groff and
AIX 3.2's troff also accept ISO 8859-1 (aka ISO Latin 1), the
Western European character set and are 8 bit clean. Any 8-bit
clean ditroff can be reconfigured to support alternate 8859-x
character sets. AIX 3.2 ditroff also supports Kanji (multi-byte)
to a certain extent (as per IBM-932).

See TR16 for more on DWB.

Subject: TR3. What are some of the filters for troff output?

Psroff is a suite of programs that allow you to translate CAT troff
output or ditroff output format into PostScript, HP Laserjet (with
incremental font downloading) or ditroff. See description of hp2pbm
below for driving printers other than these three.

Psroff works with all versions of CAT troff and ditroff, including
groff. Psroff allows you to change fonts on the fly (unlike any other
CAT troff converter). Psroff has been used to drive HP Laserjet and
clone printers, PostScript (including Display PostScript and Sun
Pageview), X windows previewers (such as xditview and xtroff),
Ghostscript and many others.

Psroff comes with a large suite of utility programs that allow you to
create, manipulate, display HP Laserjet and PostScript fonts, as well
as construct width tables for these fonts from a variety of sources,
including TeK PK format, HP SFP, and PostScript. Psroff also comes
with a number of other utilities, such as PostScript page reordering,
Ascii-2-PostScript converters etc. Psroff 3.0 is the only troff HP
Laserjet filter fully supporting scalable fonts or HPGL/2 graphics on
HP LJ III printers.

Psroff 3.0 is capable of performing some limited emulation of ditroff
features (eg: line drawing) with CAT troff.

Psroff 3.0 is available from comp.sources.unix, volume 24. Or from, in /distrib/chris_lewis/psroff3.0pl17 (fully patched).
Patch level 17 is current. The author is Chris Lewis,

Adobe Transcript is a commercial package similar to psroff, in that it
contains filters for converting ditroff or CAT troff. But only to
PostScript. It also contains filters for Ascii-2-PostScript, and is
often installed as part of SunOS printcap filters. Adobe Transcript
contains a user interface script called "psroff" which should not be
confused with the other psroff (but often is). Information can be
acquired on its availability by contacting the Qualix group at
1-800-245-UNIX, or Supports psfig with a little
hacking (instructions in psfig release).

The groff package from the Free-Software-Foundation includes drivers
for PostScript, DVI, X and constant-width printers, and the complete
suite of troff preprocessors with the exception of grap. It is
available via anonymous ftp from several sources (it needs the FSF C++
or AT&T C++ 2.0 compilers to compile, but many binary versions are also
available for FTP). Supports character kerning (unlike CAT troff or
DWB). Does not contain an HP Laserjet driver. A "dvi2lj" or psroff
3.0 can be used as a HP Laserjet driver for groff. Groff has made some
slight changes in the ditroff and width table formats, so use with
non-groff drivers may need a little fiddling. Written by James Clark.
The latest version can always be ftped from

James has just updated groff to support HP Laserjet 4 printers in
PCL5 (as opposed to PostScript) mode utilizing the scalable fonts
built into the printer. This apparently also works on Laserjet 3
printers, with some minor deficiencies in graphics support, and not as
many fonts. Will not work on HP Laserjet II printers, and apparently
cannot work with non-scalable or downloaded fonts. The LJ4 software
can be found in:

It's worth noting that there is a major difference between driving
HP Laserjet 3 or 4 (PCL5) and driving HP Laserjet 2 (PCL4). PCL5
has scalable fonts, and an implementation of HPGL/2 - HP's graphics
language. Driving PCL5 is fairly easy. PCL4 doesn't support scalable
fonts or graphics, and they have to be simulated by downloads and
raster graphics. A full feature driver for PCL4 will also work on PCL5,
whereas something taking advantage of PCL5 won't work on PCL4. Groff
only supports PCL5. Psroff has full function drivers for both PCL4
and PCL5.

Subject: TR4. What other troff printer drivers are there?

- thack: CAT to PostScript. comp.sources.unix archives.
For very casual use only. Has no width tables, and can't,
for example, make tbl box corners line up.) Available from
comp.sources.unix archives. Very simple to build/install.

- tpscript: ditroff to PostScript (reasonably good filter)
comp.sources.unix archives. Does not support psfig.

- jetroff: ditroff to HP Laserjet (no support for III scalable
fonts). Commercial version (jetroff 2) no longer available.
Jetroff 1.0 (shareware) is available from c.s.m archives.
Author: Rick Richardson. Would need some fiddling to work
with groff.

- troff2lj: CAT troff to HP Laserjet. Limited font handling
functionality - package discontinued by author when psroff
2.0 was released.

- lcat/lroff: obsolete, should be junked, precursor to psroff.

- hp2pbm: not a troff-2-something filter per-se. However,
given a HP Laserjet driver, hp2pbm can convert HP Laserjet 2
(PCL4) codes to Jef Poskanzer's PBM format, which permits you to
| use any of the many output formats supported by PBM, as well as
| directly to several other formats (PCL4, G3, X windows dump
etc). Author: Chris Lewis and Klaus Schallhorn. Hp2pbm and PBM+
are accessible from c.s.m archives. Hp2pbm includes a 24 pin
Epson driver and a built-in G3 FAX driver. Will not work with
groff's PCL5 driver.

| Hp2pbm coupled with Gert Doering's mgetty+sendfax makes a _very_
| nice bidirectional data (eg: UUCP) and FAX modem capability for

| - GhostScript: also not a troff-2-something filter. It is a
| PostScript to raster converter. Coupled with a troff/filter
| that generates PostScript, GhostScript can usually be coaxed
| into generating GIFs, PBMs, G3, PCL4, and several other
| graphics formats. This is more flexible than hp2pbm, will
| often do a sligthly better job, but requires a lot more disk space
| and is considerably slower. If speed or space is a concern,
| hp2pbm is a better choice.

- cat2desk is a version of lcat/lroff modified to work with
Deskjets. Psroff will work with newer deskjets (especially
scalable font ones with PCL4), but not older ones (the font
format is different) which are PCL3.

Deskjets generally:

For printing on deskjets that do not support SFP fonts, your best
solution is either to use troff & psroff driving hp2pbm (with
pbm2lj from hp2pbm as the final stage), or groff emitting
PostScript and letting GhostScript do the conversion. Either one
of these combinations will give you full functionality up to and
including graphics. The former is easier to install and runs much
faster (see me for pbm2lj tweak). The latter may have the edge on
font quality.

Subject: TR5. How do I get my troff to drive my printer?

a) If you already have CAT troff and you don't need pic or grap:

Your simplest bet is psroff if you want to drive printers supported
by psroff (PostScript, HP Laserjet, ditroff filters, PBM+
supported devices (including Epson 24 pin, FAX). Transcript
is an alternative for PostScript output (but doesn't
allow you to mount fonts, no drawing support).

b) You already have ditroff:

You may already have a driver for your printer. Check.
If not, your best bets are jetroff, psroff, tpscript,

c) You don't have a troff or, you have CAT troff and you need pic
and grap:

Get "a DWB", such as groff (no grap), DWB 3, or one of the
commercial variants.

Subject: TR6. None of the mentioned packages support *my* printer. Help?

This area is not entered into lightly. Look for a commercial or free
package that supports your device. Failing that, try to acquire
(legally!) the source code for another device and modify it. The AT&T
documentation "Troff User's Manual" has a Reference section that
completely documents the ditroff language. SunOS and Psroff 3.0
documentation contain descriptions of the CAT troff language. Psroff
3.0 is designed for drop-in drivers, and may be the easiest to extend.
Coupled with hp2pbm, psroff3.0 can probably drive just about any kind
of printer that supports raster graphics with relatively little trouble
(see Epson 24 pin driver for guidance).

If you can get a PostScript driver and are running on current SunOS,
you could consider developing a NeWSprint driver for your printer.
NeWSprint is Sun's NeWS (PostScript language interpreter extended for
driving displays; not the same thing as "Display PostScript"(tm). This
may be easier than developing a troff driver, since all NeWSprint
really needs is the ability to send a bitmap to a printer. Source and
developer's documentation are shipped standard with NeWSprint.

Thack is ideal for quick hacks with CAT troff for printers that have
dynamically scalable fonts (aside from the fact that thack has no
facilities for building width tables).

Subject: TR7. How do I embed PostScript in troff?

There are two methods:

- including "absolute" PostScript. PostScript that knows where
it goes on the page, and decides its own scaling.
All versions of ditroff support this one way or another.
CAT troff does as well when coupled with psroff. This is
most often supported by some permutation of \! or \X'...'

- including PostScript, automatically scaling and placing the
image. This requires that the PostScript be EPS (so that the
size and origin of the image is accessible). Groff and
DWB 3.3 have facilities for including EPS files and automatically
placing/scaling them on the page, including leaving space in the
troff text for the image. See if your documentation includes
remarks about "PSPIC", "PS" or other similar macros.

Psfig (comp.sources.unix archives) is a troff preprocessor which
will permit this sort of automatic placement/scaling with an
older version of ditroff (such as DWB 2.1) as long as the backend
printer driver understands it. Psroff 3.0 and Adobe Transcript
support psfig with ditroff, but only Psroff 3.0 will support
psfig with CAT troff.

Caution: many PC and MAC graphics packages generate sloppy PostScript which
cannot be gracefully included in other documents.

Subject: TR8. What are fonts? How do I add fonts?

A font is a set of characters in an specific typeface. Unlike
TeX, troff does not consider the same typeface at different
sizes to be different fonts.

You have to make the width tables, install them, and tell the
troff filter how to emit/request the fonts. The details differ
from one package to another. Check the documentation.

Subject: TR9. What are width tables?

Both CAT troff and ditroff need to know the width of each character
that you use. The widths of each character (along with some additional
characteristics) are arranged in a file for each font. There are
basically five different width table formats:

1) CAT troff: uses a binary table of 224 unsigned chars.
2) MIPS (and RISC/Ultrix) CAT troff uses an ASCII dump of (1)
3) DWB 2.x and several of the commercial variants use an ASCII
format that is compiled into a binary form by a special program
called "makedev".
4) DWB 3.x uses the ASCII format mentioned in (3) - doesn't need
to be compiled.
5) Groff uses the ASCII format mentioned in (4) with minor variations.

If the width tables are wrong, character spacing will look funny - up
to and including overlapping characters, and broken right justification.

Subject: TR10. How do I make width tables?

Creating them is not hard. Getting the actual metrics sometimes is.

The AT&T documentation "Troff User's Manual" describes the DWB width
table format. Your DWB may already have a manual page for it.

Psroff 3.0 contains documentation on DWB and CAT troff format width

DWB 3.3, Psroff 3.0 and tpscript each have a utility for automatically
creating width tables by sucking the data out of a PostScript device.

Psroff 3.0 and jetroff have utilities for creating width tables from
HP laserjet fonts.

Psroff 3.0 can convert between any of the 5 width table formats.

Groff contains a package for generating groff width tables from HP's
scaleable font metrics format.

Consult the documentation to find out where to put the files.

Subject: TR11. What are: pic, eqn, tbl, grap, refer?

These are the basic troff preprocessors shipped with DWB:

- pic allows you to draw arbitrary line-drawing graphics in a
machine-independent fashion.
- eqn allows you to construct mathmatical equations.
- tbl provides a mechanism for specifying and displaying
automatically sized/configured tables
- grap uses pic to construct graphs.
- refer provides a mechanism for searching for and formatting
bibligraphic references.

Neither pic nor grap are included with CAT troff, but eqn, tbl and
frequently refer are present. Groff does not at present support grap.

Subject: TR12. How do I preview my troff on my screen?

a) X windows: xditview and xtroff (X11R5 contrib directory, xtroff
also from and gxditview (from groff) will
preview ditroff format (groff requires gxditview), including
psroff 3.0's ditroff output from CAT troff.
b) Display PostScript (ie: AIX 3 & DEC dpsexec, NeXT,
Sun Pageview, Ultrascript, Ghostview plus GhostScript): any
PostScript generating troff. (Theoretically at least. May need
a teensy bit of PostScript hacking to get a reasonable pager
(psroff3.0 has this built in). Pageview and Ultrascript have some
limitations so may not work with a specific PostScript
generator). Pageview gets very confused about page boundaries
unless the PostScript is DSC compliant and has "%%Page:" comments
in it.
c) Others: You can probably find a PBM converter for it,
so use a Laserjet-generating troff configuration plus hp2pbm.
(eg: Sun rasters, 3b1 screens, EGA, VGA, GIFF, TIFF etc.)
I preview on X by generating PCL with psroff, converting
to PBM with hp2pbm, then display with pbm2Xd (part of hp2pbm)
and xwud (part of X windows).
d) Others: You may be able to find a DVI driver for it,
so use a DVI-generating troff configuration (namely,
groff's ditdvi) and use the appropriate dvi2<whatever> filter.
e) AIX 3.2 has a good AIXwindows 1.2 and Motif1.1 based
previewer called "xpreview".

Subject: TR13. I need makedev, but my DWB doesn't come with it.

A freeware version called "mkfont" is available from c.s.m, and
is also included in Jetroff 1.0. The Jetroff version is to be
preferred because it's been extended a bit more to be an exact
"makedev" replacement w.r.t. command line arguments.

Subject: TR14. Nroff/Troff on DOS machines

Arto Viitanen ( has used djgpp (the MSDOS port of
gcc 2.01) to compile groff-1.05 for MSDOS. The binaries are available
at in /pc/unix. The file is and it's 725 Kb.
A port of version 1.07 by Mauro Condarelli is available from omnigate. in pub/msdos/djgpp/pub. This port includes the groff
driver and also the dvi device, both of which were missing in the 1.05
port. Both ports work well except for gpic which does not seem to work on
systems lacking a math coprocessor.

There's also a OS/2 port using the EMX environment (GCC 2.3.3), which
includes a DOS extender. The latest version may support DOS directly.

Elan, Image Network, and SoftQuad have commercial versions of DWB
for DOS machines. They tend to be a bit pricey - in the $500-$1200

There are many freeware versions of nroff that have either already
been ported, or should be easy to port to DOS. For example, C
implementations of Kernighan and Plauger's "Software Tools" "roff"
(see Ozan Yigit's implementation available from comp.sources.unix).
[roff isn't a complete implementation of nroff, depends on what
you need.]

Related: Ghostscript can be used on DOS to preview the output of any
PostScript-producing application, including groff. If you do use
GhostScript, make sure that you get the latest version with the good
fonts. GhostScript also contains CGA and VGA drivers for on-screen

Cawf2 a C port of Henry Spencer's Amazing Workable Formatter (originally
an awk program). It apparently does a reasonable job with -ms and -man
macros. The C version is by Vic Abell and is available from in pucc/cawf. It works on MSDOS and most or all UNIX systems.

I'd appreciate any other leads on DOS nroff/troffs.

Subject: TR15. What books can I get about DWB?

|Many of these books may be out of print now, so you may have to hunt
|through Computer Science Libraries and UNIX programmer's secret caches.

Troff User's Manual, by Ossanna and Kernighan, is available for
| anonymous ftp as
| The above URL may no longer be in existance, but apparently,
| it's now available at
| Also available is Kernighan's raw troff tutorial at:

Document Formatting and Typesetting on the UNIX System,
2 volumes, Nerain Gehani, Silicon Press, ISBN 0-9615336-2-5.
A very good general reference; covers troff, the preprocessors,
and most of the popular macro packages.

Typesetting Tables on the UNIX System, Henry McGilton, Mary McNabb.
Trilithon Press, ISBN 0-9626289-0-5. A very good, very complete
reference and tutorial on TBL.

Unix Text Processing, Dale Dougherty & Tim O'Reilly, Hayden Books,
ISBN 0-672-46291-5. A good discussion not just of troff (ms & mm),
tbl, eqn, and pic, but also vi and ex, sed, and awk.

Troff typesetting for Unix Systems, Sandra L. Emerson & Karen Paulsell
(kjp@well?) Prentice-Hall, 0-13-930959-4. This is a good book
for people wishing to write raw troff (as in rolling your own

troff-Programmierung: proffessionelle Textverarbeitung und
Schriftsatz unter UNIX, Claus Schirmer, Hanser Verlag 1990,
ISBN 3-446-15649-6. Reportedly a superb book on troff
programming. Ie: a ms-like macro package is built in a
step-by-step way. Don't know if there's non-German language

The UNIX Text Processing System, Kaare Christian, Wiley, 1987.
Is especially good on REFER, the best chapter on REFER
available. [This book now appears to be out of print.]

Text processing and typesetting with UNIX, D.W. Barron and Mike Rees,
Addison-Wesley, 1987.

Subject: TR16. Complete DWB description.

Documenter's Workbench (DWB) is the successor to the original Bell
Labs version of troff. The current package, DWB 3.4, includes 86
commands: troff, tbl, eqn, grap, pic, picasso, a pipeline builder,
PostScript drivers and utilities for bounding box computation and
device interrogation; optional (at no cost) LaserJet and Imagen
printer support; man, mm and other macro packages, font tables,
etc. A companion add-on, DWBX 3.4, provides an X Window previewer,
drawing program, spell corrector and hypertext man page viewer.

The source code is fully-portable to UNIX SVR2, SVR3, SVR4, BSD
and SunOS, and is available for corporate or university license at
a fixed price, and for sublicense at a negotiable fee. Binaries
are available for all AT&T, NCR and Sun UNIX platforms. One full
set of documentation (7 booklets and 9 Quick Reference cards)
included with each license.

Sales inquiries: AT&T Software Solutions, 1-800-462-8146 (US),
+1-908-580-5719 from elsewhere; fax 1-908-580-6355.
Technical inquiries:

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