= T =
troff /T'rof/ or /trof/ n.
[Unix] The gray
eminence of Unix text processing; a formatting and phototypesetting
program, written originally in PDP-11 assembler and then in
barely-structured early C by the late Joseph Ossanna, modeled after
the earlier ROFF which was in turn modeled after the Multics and
CTSS program RUNOFF by Jerome Saltzer (that name came from
the expression "to run off a copy"). A companion program,
nroff, formats output for terminals and line printers.
In 1979, Brian Kernighan modified troff so that it could drive
phototypesetters other than the Graphic Systems CAT. His paper
describing that work ("A Typesetter-independent troff," AT&T CSTR
#97) explains troff's durability. After discussing the program's
"obvious deficiencies -- a rebarbative input syntax, mysterious
and undocumented properties in some areas, and a voracious appetite
for computer resources" and noting the ugliness and extreme
hairiness of the code and internals, Kernighan concludes:
None of these remarks should be taken as denigrating
Ossanna's accomplishment with TROFF. It has proven a
remarkably robust tool, taking unbelievable abuse from a
variety of preprocessors and being forced into uses that
were never conceived of in the original design, all with
considerable grace under fire.
The success of TeX and desktop publishing systems have
reduced troff's relative importance, but this tribute
perfectly captures the strengths that secured troff a place
in hacker folklore; indeed, it could be taken more generally as an
indication of those qualities of good programs that, in the long
run, hackers most admire.
--Jargon File, autonoded by rescdsk.
The Everyone Project.
Log in: "everyone" Password: "everyone"
First created by: rescdsk
Modified by: (nobody)