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This is version 1.0 of unroff.

Unroff is a Scheme-based, programmable, extensible troff translator
with a back-end for the Hypertext Markup Language.  Unroff is free
software and is distributed both as source and as precompiled binaries.

* Overview

  Unroff reads and parses UNIX troff documents and translates the embedded
  markup into a different format.  Neither the actual output format nor
  any knowledge about particular troff macro sets (-man, -ms, etc.) are
  hard-wired into unroff.  Instead, the translation process is controlled
  by a set of user-supplied procedures written in the Scheme programming

  Translation rules for new output formats and troff macro packages can
  be added easily by providing a corresponding set of Scheme procedures
  (a `back-end').  Version 1.0 of unroff includes back-ends for translating
  documents using the `man' and `ms' macros into the Hypertext Markup
  Language (HTML) version 2.0.  Additional requests facilitate use of
  arbitrary hypertext links in troff documents.

* unroff and troff

  In contrast to conventional troff `converters' (usually Perl scripts
  some of which process nroff output) unroff includes a full troff parser
  and closely mimics the troff processing engine.
  This enables unroff to handle user-defined macros, strings, and
  number registers, nested if-else requests, arbitrary fonts and font
  positions, low-level formatting requests such as \l, \c, and \h, and
  idiosyncrasies such as troff `copy mode' and the subtle differences
  between request and macro invocations.

  Unroff has adopted a number of groff extensions, among them long names
  for macros, strings, number registers, and special characters, and the
  escape sequences \$@ and \$*.

* unroff and Scheme

  Unroff uses Elk, the Scheme-based Extension Language Kit, to achieve
  programmability.  It includes a full Scheme language implementation
  with the usual amenities such as garbage collection, interactive
  programming and testing, and dynamic loading.  Standard Scheme has
  been augmented by a set of new Scheme data types and primitives that
  aid in writing new unroff back-ends.

  A new troff request and an extension to the `.ig' request allow for
  Scheme code to be embedded in troff documents; the code is then
  evaluated on the fly as the documents are processed by unroff.

  Unroff may be viewed as a prototype for hybrid applications that use
  Scheme (in particular Elk) as their extension language.  Approximately
  half of its source consists of portable ANSI C code, and the other
  half is written in Scheme and can be configured and tailored easily
  without the need to recompile unroff.  Authors of Elk-based applications
  are encouraged to look into the source code or reuse parts of it for
  their own projects.

  As the time-critical Scheme primitives provided of unroff have been
  coded in (efficient) C, its performance comes close to that of nroff
  processing the same troff input.

* unroff and hypertext

  troff documents that were originally written without intentions to
  make them available in the World Wide Web (such as UNIX manual pages)
  can easily be translated to the Hypertext Markup Language using the
  predefined HTML back-ends.

  As unroff closely simulates ordinary troff, even large or complex
  documents (like technical reports or theses with many user-defined
  macros) can be translated to HTML automatically without having to
  add any structural cues to the documents.
  The `-man' support has been tested with several hundred vendor- and
  user-supplied manual pages and has produced good results in all but
  less than a dozen cases (a few manual pages were found to make excessive
  use of low-level troff constructs or to include tbl output verbatim).

* Managing hypertext documents with troff

  Authors can benefit from unroff not only as a converter for existing
  documents, but also when writing new documents that must exist both
  in high-quality paper form and in the World Wide Web as hypertext.

  Rather than writing hypertext documents directly in HTML (which is
  cumbersome for long or complex texts), authors can continue using
  ordinary troff together with the usual preprocessors and macro packages.
  Unroff is then employed to produce the WWW form, while troff is used
  in the normal way to typeset the same text, producing the printed
  version (or, using nroff, an ASCII version if desired).

  In this way authors of hypertext documents can take full advantage of
  the usual troff facilities such as user-defined macros, conditional text,
  tables, equations, and drawings, automatic table of contents generation,
  footnotes/endnotes, indexes, etc., none of which are available when
  composing documents directly in plain HTML.

  Two new troff requests for embedding hypertext links in troff documents
  are provided by the unroff HTML back-end.  Arbitrary forward and backward
  references using symbolic labels (rather than actual file names) among
  groups of troff source files are supported.  Another new request and
  another extension to `.ig' allow for HTML code to be embedded directly
  in troff documents.  The hypertext capabilities are demonstrated by
  the troff source of the Programmer's Manual that is part of the unroff

* Availability

  The source distribution of unroff 1.0 as well as binary distributions
  (with full Scheme source code and documentation) are available under:


  You can obtain Elk 3.0 from the same WWW server at:


  Elk 3.0 is also available from a number of FTP servers including these:


Oliver Laumann  <net@cs.tu-berlin.de>                 # $Revision: 1.4 $