groffer - display groff files and man pages on X and tty
groffer [option...] [--] [filespec...]
groffer --apropos|--apropos-data|--apropos-devel|--apropos-progs name groffer -h|--help
The groffer program is the easiest way to use groff(1) . It can display arbitrary documents written in the groff(7) language or other roff(7) languages that are compatible to the original troff language. The groffer program also includes many of the features for finding and displaying the UNIX manual pages (man pages), such that it can be used as a replacement for a man(1) program. Moreover, compressed files that can be handled by gzip(1) or bzip2(1) are decompressed on-the-fly.
The normal usage is quite simple by supplying a file name or name of a man page without further options. But the option handling has many possibilities for creating special behaviors. This can be done in configuration files, with the shell environment variable $GROFFER_OPT, or on the command line.
The output can be generated and viewed in several different ways available for groff. This includes the groff native X viewer gxditview(1) , each Postcript or dvi display program, a web browser by generating html in www-mode, or several text modes in text terminals.
Most of the options that must be named when running groff directly are determined automatically for groffer, due to the internal usage of the grog(1) program. But all parts can also be controlled manually by arguments.
Several file names can be specified on the command line arguments. They are transformed into a single document in the normal way of groff.
[--apropos name] [--apropos-data name] [--apropos-devel name] [--apropos-progs name] [-h|--help] [-v|--version]
groffer mode options
options related to groff
All further groff short options are accepted.
X Window toolkit options
[--bd pixels] [--bg|--background color] [--bw pixels] [--display X-display] [--fg|--foreground color] [--ft|--font font_name] [--geometry size_pos] [--resolution value] [--rv] [--title string] [--xrm X_resource]
options from man
[--all] [--ascii] [--ditroff] [--extension suffix] [--locale language] [--local-file] [--manpath dir1:dir2:...] [--pager program] [--sections sec1:sec2:...] [--systems sys1,sys2,...] [--troff-device device] [--whatis]
Further long options of GNU man are accepted as well.
No filespec parameters means standard input.
filename the path name of an existing file.
search the man page name in man section section.
man:name man page in the lowest man section that has name.
The groffer program can usually be run with very few options. But for special purposes, it supports many options. These can be classified in 5 option classes.
All short options of groffer are compatible with the short options of groff(1) . All long options of groffer are compatible with the long options of man(1) .
groffer breaking Options
As soon as one of these options is found on the command line it is executed, printed to standard output, and the running groffer is terminated thereafter. All other arguments are ignored.
groffer Mode Options
The display mode and the viewer programs are determined by these options. If none of these mode and viewer options is specified groffer tries to find a suitable display mode automatically.
auto Select the automatic determination of the display mode. The sequence of modes that are tried can be set with the --default-modes option. Useful for restoring the default mode when a different mode was specified before.
groff After the file determination, switch groffer to process the input like groff(1) would do . This disables the groffer viewing features.
html Translate the input into html format and display the result in a web browser program. By default, the existence of a sequence of standard web browsers is tested, starting with konqueror(1) and mozilla(1) . The text html viewer is lynx(1) .
The following modes do not use the groffer viewing features. They are only interesting for advanced applications.
groff Generate device output with plain groff without using the special viewing features of groffer. If no device was specified by option -T the groff default ps is assumed.
source Display the source code of the input without formatting; equivalent to -Q.
Besides these, groffer accepts all arguments that are valid for the groff(1) program. All non-groffer options are sent unmodified via grog to groff. Postprocessors, macro packages, compatibility with classical troff, and much more can be manually specified.
Print debugging information for development only. Actually, a function call stack is printed if an error occurs.
Other useful debugging options are the groff options -V and -Z and option --mode=groff.
All short options of groffer are compatible with the short options of groff(1) . The following of groff options have either an additional special meaning within groffer or make sense for normal usage.
Because of the special outputting behavior of the groff options -V and -Z groffer was designed to be switched into groff mode by these; the groffer viewing features are disabled there. The other groff options do not switch the mode, but allow to customize the formatting process.
All other groff options are supported by groffer, but they are just transparently transferred to groff without any intervention. The options that are not explicitly handled by groffer are transparently passed to groff. Therefore these transparent options are not documented here, but in groff(1) . Due to the automatism in groffer, none of these groff options should be needed, except for advanced usage.
X Window toolkit Options
The following long options were adapted from the corresponding X Toolkit options. groffer will pass them to the actual viewer program if it is an X Window program. Otherwise these options are ignored.
Unfortunately these options use the old style of a single minus for long options. For groffer that was changed to the standard with using a double minus for long options, for example, groffer uses the option --font for the X option -font.
See X(1) , X(7) , and the documentation on the X toolkit options for more details on these options and their arguments.
Options from man
The long options of groffer were synchronized with the long options of GNUman. All long options of GNU man are recognized, but not all of these options are important to groffer, so most of them are just ignored.
The following two options were added by groffer for choosing whether the file name arguments are interpreted as names for local files or as a search pattern for man pages. The default is looking up for local files.
In the following, the man options that have a special meaning for grof_fer are documented.
The full set of long and short options of the GNU man program can be passed via the environment variable $MANOPT; see man(1) if your system has GNU man installed.
Additionally, the following short option of man is supported as well.
A filespec parameter is an argument meaning an input source, such as a file name or template for searching man pages. These input sources are collected and composed into a single output file such as groff does.
The strange POSIX behavior that maps all arguments behind the first non-option argument into filespec arguments is ignored. The GNU behavior to recognize options even when mixed with filespec arguments is used througout. But, as usual, the double minus argument -- still takes all following arguments as filespecs.
Each filespec parameters can have one of the following forms.
No filespec parameters means that groffer waits for standard input. The minus option - stands for standard input, too, but can occur several times. Next filespec is tested whether it is the path name of an existing file. Otherwise it is assumed as a searching pattern for a man page.
On each system, the man pages are sorted according to their content into several sections. The classical man sections have a single-character name, either are a digit from 1 to 9 or one of the characters n or o. In the following, a stand-alone character s means this scheme.
The internal precedence of man for searching man pages with the same name within several sections goes according to the classical singlecharacter sequence. On some systems, this single character can be extended by a following string. But the special groffer man page facility is based on the classical single character sections.
man:name(section) and name(section) search the man page name in man section section, where section can be any string, but it must exist in the man system.
Next some patterns based on the classical man sections were constructed. man:name.s and name.s search for a man page name in man section s if s is a classical man section mentioned above. Otherwise search for a man page named name.s in the lowest man section.
Now man:name searches for a man page in the lowest man section that has a document called name.
The pattern s name originates from a strange argument parsing of the man program. If s is a classical man section interpret it as a search for a man page called name in man section s, otherwise interpret s as a file argument and name as another filespec argument.
We are left with the argument name which is not an existing file. So this searches for the man page called name in the lowest man section that has a document for this name.
Several file name arguments can be supplied. They are mixed by groff into a single document. Note that the set of option arguments must fit to all of these file arguments. So they should have at least the same style of the groff language.
By default, the groffer program collects all input into a single file, formats it with the groff program for a certain device, and then chooses a suitable viewer program. The device and viewer process in groffer is called a mode. The mode and viewer of a running groffer program is selected automatically, but the user can also choose it with options. The modes are selected by option the arguments of --mode=anymode. Additionally, each of this argument can be specified as an option of its own, such as --anymode. Most of these modes have a viewer program, which can be chosen by an option that is constructed like --anymodeviewer.
Several different modes are offered, graphical X modes, text modes, and some direct groff modes for debugging and development.
By default, groffer first tries whether x mode is possible, then ps mode, and finally tty mode. This mode testing sequence for auto mode can be changed by specifying a comma separated list of modes with the option --default-modes.
The searching for man pages and the decompression of the input are active in every mode.
Graphical Display Modes
The graphical display modes work only in the X Window environment (or similar implementations within other windowing environments). The environment variable $DISPLAY and the option --display are used for specifying the X display to be used. If neither is given, groffer assumes that no X and changes to one text mode. You can change this automatic behavior by the option --default-modes.
Known viewers for the graphical display modes and their standard X Window viewer progams are
? X Window roff viewers such as gxditview(1) or xditview(1) (in x or X mode),
? in a Postscript viewer (ps mode),
? in a dvi viewer program (dvi mode),
? in a PDF viewer (pdf mode),
? in a web browser (html or www mode),
The pdf mode has a major advantage -- it is the only graphical diplay mode that allows to search for text within the viewer; this can be a really important feature. Unfortunately, it takes some time to transform the input into the PDF format, so it was not chosen as the major mode.
These graphical viewers can be customized by options of the X Window Toolkit. But the groffer options use a leading double minus instead of the single minus used by the X Window Toolkit.
There are to modes for text output, mode text for plain output without a pager and mode tty for a text output on a text terminal using some pager program.
If the variable $DISPLAY is not set or empty, groffer assumes that it should use tty mode.
In the actual implementation, the groff output device latin1 is chosen for text modes. This can be changed by specifying option -T or --device.
The pager to be used can be specified by one of the options --pager and --tty-viewer, or by the environment variable $PAGER. If all of this is not used the less(1) program with the option -r for correctly displaying control sequences is used as the default pager.
Special Modes for Debugging and Development These modes use the groffer file determination and decompression. This is combined into a single input file that is fed directly into groff with different strategy without the groffer viewing facilities. These modes are regarded as advanced, they are useful for debugging and development purposes.
The source mode with just displays the generated input. The groff mode passes the input to groff using only some suitable options provided to groffer. This enables the user to save the generated output into a file or pipe it into another program.
In groff mode, the option -Z disables post-processing, thus producing the groff intermediate output. In this mode, the input is formatted, but not postprocessed; see groff_out(5) for details.
All groff short options are supported by groffer.
The default behavior of groffer is to first test whether a file parameter represents a local file; if it is not an existing file name, it is assumed to represent a name of a man page. This behavior can be modified by the following options.
If neither a local file nor a man page was retrieved for some file parameter a warning is issued on standard error, but processing is continued.
The groffer program provides a search facility for man pages. All long options, all environment variables, and most of the functionality of the GNU man(1) program were implemented. This inludes the extended file names of man pages, for example, the man page of groff in man section 7 may be stored under /usr/share/man/man7/groff.7.gz, where /usr/share/man/ is part of the man path, the subdirectory man7 and the file extension .7 refer to the man section 7; .gz shows the compression of the file.
The cat pages (preformatted man pages) are intentionally excluded from the search because groffer is a roff program that wants to format by its own. With the excellent performance of the actual computers, the preformatted man pages aren’t necessary any longer.
The algorithm for retrieving man pages uses five search methods. They are successively tried until a method works.
? The search path can be manually specified by using the option --manpath. An empty argument disables the man page searching. This overwrites the other methods.
? If this is not available the environment variable $MANPATH is searched.
? If this is empty, the program tries to read it from the environment variable $MANOPT.
? If this does not work a reasonable default path from $PATH is searched for man pages.
? If this does not work, the manpath(1) program for determining a path of man directories is tried.
After this, the path elements for the language (locale) and operating system specific man pages are added to the man path; their sequence is determined automatically. For example, both /usr/share/man/linux/fr and /usr/share/man/fr/linux for french linux man pages are found. The language and operating system names are determined from both environment variables and command line options.
The locale (language) is determined like in GNU man, that is from highest to lowest precedence:
The language locale is usually specified in the POSIX 1003.1 based format:
but the two-letter code in <language> is sufficient for most purposes.
If no man pages for a complicated locale are found the country part consisting of the first two characters (without the ‘_’, ‘.’, and ‘,’, parts) of the locale is searched as well.
If still not found the corresponding man page in the default language is used instead. As usual, this default can be specified by one of C or POSIX. The man pages in the default language are usually in English.
Several operating systems can be given by appending their names, separated by a comma. This is then specified by the environment variable $SYSTEM or by the command line option --systems. The precedence is similar to the locale case above from highest to lowest precedence: Topic --systems
When searching for man pages this man path with the additional language and system specific directories is used.
The search can further be restricted by limiting it to certain sections. A single section can be specified within each filespec argument, several sections as a colon-separated list in command line option --sections or environment variable $MANSECT. When no section was specified a set of standard sections is searched until a suitable man page was found.
Finally, the search can be restricted to a so-called extension. This is a postfix that acts like a subsection. It can be specified by --extension or environment variable $EXTENSION.
For further details on man page searching, see man(1) .
The program has a decompression facility. If standard input or a file that was retrieved from the command line parameters is compressed with a format that is supported by either gzip(1) or bzip2(1) it is decompressed on-the-fly. This includes the GNU .gz, .bz2, and the traditional .Z compression. The program displays the concatenation of all decompressed input in the sequence that was specified on the command line.
The groffer programs supports many system variables, most of them by courtesy of other programs. All environment variables of groff(1) and GNU man(1) and some standard system variables are honored.
Native groffer Variables
Store options for a run of groffer. The options specified in this variable are overridden by the options given on the command line. The content of this variable is run through the shell builtin ‘eval’; so arguments containing white-space or special shell characters should be quoted.
The groffer program is a shell script that is run through /bin/sh, which can be internally linked to programs like bash(1) . The corresponding system environment is automatically effective. The following variables have a special meaning for groffer.
$PAGER This variable can be used to set the pager for the tty output.
For example, to disable the use of a pager completely set this
variable to the cat(1)
sh# PAGER=cat groffer anything
$PATH All programs within the groffer shell script are called without a fixed path. Thus this environment variable determines the set of programs used within the run of groffer.
The groffer program internally calls groff, so all environment variables documented in groff(1) are internally used within groffer as well. The following variables have a direct meaning for the groffer program.
Parts of the functionality of the man program were implemented in groffer; support for all environment variables documented in man(1) was added to groffer, but the meaning was slightly modified due to the different approach in groffer; but the user interface is the same. The man environment variables can be overwritten by options provided with $MANOPT, which in turn is overwritten by the command line.
The environment variable $MANROFFSEQ is ignored by groffer because the necessary preprocessors are determined automatically.
The groffer program can be preconfigured by two configuration files. This configuration can be overridden at each program start by command line options or by the environment variable $GROFFER_OPT.
System-wide configuration file for groffer.
User-specific configuration file for groffer, where $HOME denotes the user’s home directory. This script is called after the system-wide configuration file to enable overriding by the user.
Their lines either start with a minus character or are shell commands. Arbitrary spaces are allowed at the beginning, they are just ignored. The lines with the beginning minus are appended to the existing value of $GROFFER_OPT. This easily allows to set general groffer options that are used with any call of groffer.
After the transformation of the minus lines the emerging shell scripts that are called by groffer using the ‘. filename’ syntax.
The only option that needs a minus line in the configuration files is --shell. The reason is that its argument must be called at a very early stage before the whole syntax of the configuration can be transformed.
It makes sense to use these configuration files for the following tasks:
? Preset command line options by writing them into lines starting with a minus sign.
? Preset environment variables recognized by groffer.
? Write a function for calling a viewer program for a special mode and feed this name into its corresponding --mode-viewer option. Note that the name of such a function must coincide with some existing program in the system path $PATH in order to be recognized by groffer.
As an example, consider the following configuration file in ~/.groff/groffer.conf, say.
# groffer configuration file
# groffer options that are used in each call of groffer --shell=/bin/bash
--x-viewer=’gxditview -geometry 850x800’
# some shell commands
if test “$DISPLAY” = “"; then
This configuration sets four groffer options and runs two shell commands. This has the following effects:
? Lines starting with a # character are
? Use /bin/bash as the shell to run the groffer script.
? Take a resolution of 100 dpi and a text color of DarkBlue in all viewers that support this.
? Force gxditview(1) as the X-mode viewer using the geometry option for setting the width to 850 dpi and the height to 800 dpi.
? The variable $DISPLAY is set to localhost:0.0 which allows to start groffer in the standard X display, even when the program is called from a text console.
? Just for fun, the date of each groffer start is written to the file mygroffer.log in the home directory.
The usage of groffer is very easy. Usually, it is just called with a file name or man page. The following examples, however, show that groffer has much more fancy capabilities.
sh# groffer /usr/local/share/doc/groff/meintro.ms.gz Decompress, format and display the compressed file meintro.ms.gz in the directory /usr/local/share/doc/groff, using gxditview as graphical viewer when in X Window, or the less(1) pager program when not in X.
sh# groffer groff
If the file ./groff exists use it as input. Otherwise interpret the argument as a search for the man page named groff in the smallest possible man section, being secion 1 in this case.
sh# groffer man:groff
search for the man page of groff even when the file ./groff exists.
sh# groffer groff.7
sh# groffer 7 groff
search the man page of groff in man section 7. This section search works only for a digit or a single character from a small set.
sh# groffer fb.modes
If the file ./fb.modes does not exist interpret this as a search for the man page of fb.modes. As the extension modes is not a single character in classical section style the argument is not split to a search for fb.
sh# groffer groff ‘troff(1)
The arguments that are not existing files are looked-up as the following man pages: groff (automatic search, should be found in man section 1), troff (in section 1), and roff (in the section with the lowest number, being 7 in this case). The quotes around ‘troff(1)’ are necessary because the paranthesis are special shell characters; escaping them with a backslash character \( and \) would be possible, too. The formatted files are concatenated and displayed in one piece.
sh# LANG=de groffer --man --www --www-viever=mozilla ls Retrieve the German man page (language de) for the ls program, decompress it, format it to html format (www mode) and view the result in the web browser galeon . The option --man guarantees that the man page is retrieved, even when a local file ls exists in the actual directory.
sh# groffer --source ‘man:roff(7)
Get the man page called roff in man section 7, decompress it, and print its unformatted content, its source code.
sh# cat file.gz | groffer -Z -mfoo
Decompress the standard input, send this to groff intermediate mode without post-processing (groff option -Z), using macro package by foo (groff option -m)
sh# echo ‘\f[CB]WOW!’ |
The groffer shell script is compatible with both GNU and POSIX. POSIX compatibility refers to IEEE P1003.2/D11.2 of September 1991, a very early version of the POSIX standard that is still freely available in the internet. Unfortunately, this version of the standard has ‘local’ for shell function variables removed. As ‘local’ is needed for serious programming this temporary POSIX deprecation was ignored.
Most GNU shells are compatible with this interpretation of POSIX, but provide much more facilities. Nevertheless this script uses only a restricted set of shell language elements and shell builtins. The groffer script should work on most actual free and commercial operating systems.
The groffer program provides its own parser for command line options; it can handle option arguments and file names containing white space and a large set of special characters.
The groffer shell script was tested with the following common implementations of the GNU shells: POSIX sh(1) , bash(1) , and others. Free POSIX compatible shells and shell utilities for most operating systems are available at the GNU software archive ?http:// www.gnu.org/software/?.
The shell can be chosen by the option --shell. This option can also be given to the environment variable $GROFF_OPT. If you want to write it to one of the groffer configuration files you must use the single option style, a line starting with --shell.
The groffer program provides its own parser for command line arguments that is compatible to both POSIX getopts(1) and GNU getopt(1) except for shortcuts of long options. The following standard types of options are supported.
? A single minus always refers to single character option or a combination thereof, for example, the groffer short option combination -Qmfoo is equivalent to -Q -m foo.
? Long options are options with names longer than one character; they are always prededed by a double minus. An option argument can either go to the next command line argument or be appended with an equal sign to the argument; for example, --long=arg is equivalent to --long arg .
? An argument of -- ends option parsing; all further command line arguments are interpreted as file name arguments.
? By default, all command line arguments that are neither options nor
option arguments are interpreted as filespec parameters and stored
until option parsing has finished. For example, the command line
sh# groffer file1 -a -o arg file2
is, by default, equivalent to
sh# groffer -a -o arg -- file1 file2
This behavior can be changed by setting the environment variable
$POSIXLY_CORRECT to a non-empty value. Then the strange POSIX non-option
behavior is adopted, i. e. option processing is stopped as soon as
the first non-option argument is found and each following argument is
taken as a file name. For example, in posixly correct mode, the command
sh# groffer file1 -a -o arg file 2
is equivalent to
sh# groffer -- file1 -a -o arg file 2 As this leads to unwanted behavior in most cases, most people do not want to set $POSIXLY_CORRECT.
Details on the options and environment variables available in groff; all of them can be used with groffer.
man(1) The standard program to diplay man pages. The information there is only useful if it is the man page for GNU man. Then it documents the options and environment variables that are supported by groffer.
Viewers for groffer’s x mode.
Viewers for groffer’s ps mode.
gs(1) Transformer from ps to pdf; and a ps viewer.
Viewers for pdf files.
Viewers for groffer’s dvi mode.
Standard pager program for the tty mode.
The decompression programs supported by groffer.
Documentation of the groff language.
Internally, groffer tries to guess the groff command line options from the input using this program.
Documentation on the groff intermediate output (ditroff output).
This file was written by Bernd Warken.
Copyright (C) 2001,2002,2004 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
This file is part of groff, a free software project. You can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2, or (at your option) any later version.
You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with groff, see the files COPYING and LICENSE in the top directory of the groff source package. Or read the man page gpl(1) . You can also write to the Free Software Foundation, 59 Temple Place - Suite 330, Boston, MA 02111-1307, USA.
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