GROFFERSection: User Commands (1)
Updated: 05 October 2006
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NAMEgroffer - display groff files and man~pages on X and tty
SYNOPSISnopsis groffer [option...] [t_[--]] [filespecEllipsis]]
nopsis groffer [t_alt - h -- help]
nopsis groffer [t_alt - v -- version]
DESCRIPTIONThe groffer program is the easiest way to use groff(1). It can display arbitrary documents written in the groff language, see groff(7), or other roff languages, see roff(7), that are compatible to the original troff language. The groffer program also includes many of the features for finding and displaying the CR]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 either in configuration files, with the shell environment variable or on the command line. The output can be generated and viewed in several different ways available for groff. This includes the groff native CR]X~Window] viewer gxditview(1), each Postcript, pdf, 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. Option handling is done in CR]GNU] style. Options and file names can be mixed freely. The option `--' closes the option handling, all following arguments are treated as file names. Long options can be abbreviated in several ways.
- breaking options
- [t_[alt] - h -- help] [t_[alt] - v -- version]
- groffer mode options
- [t_[alt] -- auto] [t_[alt] -- default] [t_[alt] -- default-modes mode1,mode2,Ellipsis]] [t_[alt] -- dvi] [t_[alt] -- dvi-viewer prog] [t_[alt] -- groff] [t_[alt] -- html] [t_[alt] -- html-viewer prog] [t_[alt] -- mode display_mode] [t_[alt] -- pdf] [t_[alt] -- pdf-viewer prog] [t_[alt] -- ps] [t_[alt] -- ps-viewer prog] [t_[alt] -- source] [t_[alt] -- text] [t_[alt] -- to-stdout] [t_[alt] -- tty] [t_[alt] -- tty-viewer prog] [t_[alt] -- www] [t_[alt] -- www-viewer prog] [t_[alt] -- x -- X] [t_[alt] -- x-viewer -- X-viewer prog]
- options related to groff
- [t_[alt] - T -- device device] [t_[alt] - Z -- intermediate-output -- ditroff] All further groff short options are accepted.
- options for man~pages
- [t_[alt] -- apropos] [t_[alt] -- apropos-data] [t_[alt] -- apropos-devel] [t_[alt] -- apropos-progs] [t_[alt] -- man] [t_[alt] -- no-man] [t_[alt] -- no-special] [t_[alt] -- whatis]
- long options taken over from GNU man
- [t_[alt] -- all] [t_[alt] -- ascii] [t_[alt] -- ditroff] [t_[alt] -- extension suffix] [t_[alt] -- locale language] [t_[alt] -- local-file] [t_[alt] -- location -- where] [t_[alt] -- manpath dir1:dir2:Ellipsis]] [t_[alt] -- no-location] [t_[alt] -- pager program] [t_[alt] -- sections sec1:sec2:Ellipsis]] [t_[alt] -- systems sys1,sys2,Ellipsis]] [t_[alt] -- troff-device device] Further long options of CR]GNU] man are accepted as well.
- X Window Toolkit options
- [t_[alt] -- bd -- bordercolor pixels] [t_[alt] -- bg -- background color] [t_[alt] -- bw -- borderwidth pixels] [t_[alt] -- display X-display] [t_[alt] -- fg -- foreground color] [t_[alt] -- fn -- ft -- font font_name] [t_[alt] -- geometry size_pos] [t_[alt] -- resolution value] [t_[alt] -- rv] [t_[alt] -- title string] [t_[alt] -- xrm X-resource]
- options for development
- [t_[alt] -- debug] [t_[alt] -- debug-all] [t_[alt] -- debug-filenames] [t_[alt] -- debug-func] [t_[alt] -- debug-keep] [t_[alt] -- debug-lm] [t_[alt] -- debug-params] [t_[alt] -- debug-shell] [t_[alt] -- debug-stacks] [t_[alt] -- debug-tmpdir] [t_[alt] -- debug-user] [t_[alt] -- do-nothing] [t_[alt] -- print text] [t_[alt] -- shell prog] [t_[alt] - V]
- filespec arguments
parameters are all arguments that are neither an option nor an option
They usually mean a file name or a
In the following, the term
It means a word that consists of a
that is optionally followed by an
The name of a
is a single character from
is some word.
is mostly lacking.
parameters means standard input.
- [t_short ]
- stands for standard input (can occur several times).
- the path name of an existing file.
- section_extension name
- search the man~page name in the section with optional extension section_extension.
- man~page in the lowest man~section that has name.
- if name is not an existing file search for the man~page name in the lowest man~section.
- The filespec parameters are all arguments that are neither an option nor an option argument. They usually mean a file name or a man page searching scheme. In the following, the term section_extension is used. It means a word that consists of a man section that is optionally followed by an extension. The name of a man section is a single character from [1-9on], the extension is some word. The extension is mostly lacking. No filespec parameters means standard input.
OPTION DETAILSThe 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). Arguments for long option names can be abbreviated in several ways. First, the argument is checked whether it can be prolonged as is. Furthermore, each minus sign [t_short] is considered as a starting point for a new abbreviation. This leads to a set of multiple abbreviations for a single argument. For example, [t_long de-n-f] can be used as an abbreviation for [t_long debug-not-func] but [t_long de-n] works as well. If the abbreviation of the argument leads to several resulting options an error is raised.
groffer breaking OptionsAs 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. [t_def - h -- help] Print a helping information with a short explanation of option sto standard output. [t_def - v -- version] Print version information to standard output.
groffer Mode OptionsThe 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. The default modes are mode pdf, mode ps, mode html, mode x, and mode dvi in CR]X~Window] with different viewers and mode tty with device latin1 under less on a terminal; other modes are tested if the programs for the main default mode do not exist. In CR]X~Window], many programs create their own window when called. groffer can run these viewers as an independent program in the background. As this does not work in text mode on a terminal (tty) there must be a way to know which viewers are CR]X~Window] graphical programs. The groffer script has a small set of information on some viewer names. If a viewer argument of the command-line chooses an element that is kept as CR]X~Window] program in this list it is treated as a viewer that can run in the background. All other, unknown viewer calls are not run in the background. For each mode, you are free to choose whatever viewer you want. That need not be some graphical viewer suitable for this mode. There is a chance to view the output source; for example, the combination of the options [t_long mode=ps] and [t_long ps-viewer=less] shows the content of the Postscript output, the source code, with the pager less. [t_def -- auto] Equivalent to [t_long_arg mode auto] [t_def -- default] Reset all configuration from previously processed command line options to the default values. This is useful to wipe out all former options of the configuration, in and restart option processing using only the rest of the command line. [t_def -- default-modes mode1,mode2,Ellipsis]] Set the sequence of modes for auto~mode to the comma separated list given in the argument. See [t_long mode] for details on modes. Display in the default manner; actually, this means to try the modes x, ps, and tty in this sequence. [t_def -- dvi] Equivalent to [t_long_arg mode dvi] [t_def -- dvi-viewer prog] Choose a viewer program for dvi~mode. This can be a file name or a program to be searched in Known CR]X~Window] dvi viewers include xdvi(1) and dvilx(1) In each case, arguments can be provided additionally. [t_def -- groff] Equivalent to [t_long_arg mode groff] [t_def -- html] Equivalent to [t_long_arg mode html] [t_def -- html-viewer] Choose a web browser program for viewing in html~mode. It can be the path name of an executable file or a program in In each case, arguments can be provided additionally. [t_def -- mode value] Set the display mode. The following mode values are recognized:
- Select the automatic determination of the display mode. The sequence of modes that are tried can be set with the [t_long default-modes] option. Useful for restoring the default~mode when a different mode was specified before.
- Display formatted input in a dvi viewer program. By default, the formatted input is displayed with the xdvi(1) program. [t_long dvi]
- After the file determination, switch groffer to process the input like groff(1) would do. This disables the groffer viewing features.
- 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).
- Display formatted input in a PDF (Portable Document Format) viewer program. By default, the input is formatted by groff using the Postscript device, then it is transformed into the PDF file format using gs(1), or ps2pdf(1). If that's not possible, the Postscript mode (ps) is used instead. Finally it is displayed using different viewer programs. pdf has a big advantage because the text is displayed graphically and is searchable as well.
- Display formatted input in a Postscript viewer program. By default, the formatted input is displayed in one of many viewer programs.
- Format in a groff~text~mode and write the result to standard output without a pager or viewer program. The text device, latin1 by default, can be chosen with option [t_short T]
- Format in a groff~text~mode and write the result to standard output using a text pager program, even when in CR]X~Window].
- Equivalent to [t_long_arg mode html]
- Display the formatted input in a native roff viewer. By default, the formatted input is displayed with the gxditview(1) program being distributed together with groff. But the standard CR]X~Window] tool xditview(1) can also be chosen with the option [t_long x-viewer] The default resolution is 75~dpi, but 100~dpi are also possible. The default groff device for the resolution of 75~dpi is X75-12, for 100~dpi it is X100. The corresponding groff intermediate output for the actual device is generated and the result is displayed. For a resolution of 100~dpi, the default width of the geometry of the display program is chosen to 850~dpi.
- Equivalent to [t_long_arg mode x] The following modes do not use the groffer viewing features. They are only interesting for advanced applications.
- Generate device output with plain groff without using the special viewing features of groffer. If no device was specified by option [t_short T] the groff default ps is assumed.
- Output the roff source code of the input files without further processing.
- Signals the end of option processing; all remaining arguments are interpreted as filespec parameters. Besides these, groffer accepts all short options that are valid for the groff(1) program. All non-groffer options are sent unmodified via grog to groff. So postprocessors, macro packages, compatibility with classical troff, and much more can be manually specified.
Options related to groffAll 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 option [t_short Z] groffer was designed to be switched into groff~mode ; the groffer viewing features are disabled there. The other groff options do not switch the mode, but allow to customize the formatting process. [t_def - a] This generates an ascii approximation of output in the text~modes. That could be important when the text pager has problems with control sequences in tty mode. [t_def - m file] Add file as a groff macro file. This is useful in case it cannot be recognized automatically. [t_def - P opt_or_arg] Send the argument opt_or_arg as an option or option argument to the actual groff postprocessor. [t_def - T -- device devname] This option determines groff's output device. The most important devices are the text output devices for referring to the different character sets, such as ascii, utf8, latin1, and others. Each of these arguments switches groffer into a text~mode using this device, to mode~tty if the actual mode is not a text~mode. The following devname arguments are mapped to the corresponding groffer [t_long_arg mode devname] option: dvi, html, and ps. All X* arguments are mapped to mode~x. Each other devname argument switches to mode~groff using this device. [t_def - X] is equivalent to groff -X. It displays the groff intermediate output with gxditview. As the quality is relatively bad this option is deprecated; use [t_long X] instead because the x~mode uses an X* device for a better display. [t_def - Z -- intermediate-output -- ditroff] Switch into groff~mode and format the input with the groff intermediate output without postprocessing; see groff_out(5). This is equivalent to option [t_long ditroff] of man, which can be used as well. 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.
Options for man~pages[t_def -- apropos] Start the apropos(1) command or facility of man(1) for searching the filespec arguments within all man~page descriptions. Each filespec argument is taken for search as it is; section specific parts are not handled, such that 7 groff searches for the two arguments 7 and groff, with a large result; for the filespec groff.7 nothing will be found. The language locale is handled only when the called programs do support this; the GNU apropos and man -k do not. The display differs from the apropos program by the following concepts:
- Construct a groff frame similar to a man~page to the output of apropos, each filespec argument is searched on its own. The restriction by [t_long sections] is handled as well, wildcard characters are allowed and handled without a further option.
- each retrieved file name is added, local files are handled as well, the language and system locale is supported, the display is framed by a groff output format similar to a man~page, wildcard characters are allowed without a further option.
Long options taken over from GNU manThe long options of groffer were synchronized with the long options of CR]GNU] man. All long options of CR]GNU] man are recognized, but not all of these options are important to groffer, so most of them are just ignored. These ignored man options are [t_long catman] [t_long troff] and [t_long update] In the following, the man options that have a special meaning for groffer are documented. If your system has CR]GNU] man installed the full set of long and short options of the CR]GNU] man program can be passed via the environment variable see man(1). [t_def -- all] In searching man~pages, retrieve all suitable documents instead of only one. [t_def - 7 -- ascii] In text~modes, display ASCII translation of special characters for critical environment. This is equivalent to groff -mtty_char; see groff_tmac(5). [t_def -- ditroff] Produce groff intermediate output. This is equivalent to groffer [t_short Z] [t_def -- extension suffix] Restrict man~page search to file names that have suffix appended to their section element. For example, in the file name /usr/share/man/man3/terminfo.3ncurses.gz the man~page extension is ncurses. [t_def -- locale language] Set the language for man~pages. This has the same effect, but overwrites [t_def -- location] Print the location of the retrieved files to standard error. [t_def -- no-location] Do not display the location of retrieved files; this resets a former call to [t_long location] This was added by groffer. [t_def -- manpath 'dir1:dir2:Ellipsis]'] Use the specified search path for retrieving man~pages instead of the program defaults. If the argument is set to the empty string "" the search for man~page is disabled. [t_def -- pager] Set the pager program in tty~mode; default is less. This is equivalent to [t_long tty-viewer] [t_def -- sections 'sec1:sec2:Ellipsis]'] Restrict searching for man~pages to the given sections, a colon-separated list. [t_def -- systems 'sys1,sys2,Ellipsis]'] Search for man~pages for the given operating systems; the argument systems is a comma-separated list. [t_def -- where] Eqivalent to [t_long location]
X~Window~Toolkit OptionsThe following long options were adapted from the corresponding CR]X~Window~Toolkit] options. groffer will pass them to the actual viewer program if it is an CR]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 [t_long font] for the CR]X~Window] option [t_short font] See X(1), X(7), and the documentation on the CR]X~Window~Toolkit] options for more details on these options and their arguments. [t_def -- background color] Set the background color of the viewer window. [t_def -- bd pixels] This is equivalent to [t_long bordercolor] [t_def -- bg color] This is equivalent to [t_long background] [t_def -- bw pixels] This is equivalent to [t_long borderwidth] [t_def -- bordercolor pixels] Specifies the color of the border surrounding the viewer window. [t_def -- borderwidth pixels] Specifies the width in pixels of the border surrounding the viewer window. [t_def -- display X-display] Set the CR]X~Window] display on which the viewer program shall be started, see the CR]X~Window] documentation for the syntax of the argument. [t_def -- foreground color] Set the foreground color of the viewer window. [t_def -- fg color] This is equivalent to [t_short foreground] [t_def -- fn font_name] This is equivalent to [t_long font] [t_def -- font font_name] Set the font used by the viewer window. The argument is an CR]X~Window] font name. [t_def -- ft font_name] This is equivalent to [t_long font] [t_def -- geometry size_pos] Set the geometry of the display window, that means its size and its starting position. See X(7) for the syntax of the argument. [t_def -- resolution value] Set CR]X~Window] resolution in dpi (dots per inch) in some viewer programs. The only supported dpi values are 75 and 100. Actually, the default resolution for groffer is set to 75~dpi. The resolution also sets the default device in mode x. [t_def -- rv] Reverse foreground and background color of the viewer window. [t_def -- title 'some text'] Set the title for the viewer window. [t_def -- xrm 'resource'] Set CR]X~Window] resource.
Options for Development[t_def -- debug] Enable seven debugging informations. The temporary files are kept and not deleted, the name of the temporary directory and the shell name for are printed, the displayed file names are printed, the parameters are printed at several steps of development, and a function stack is output with function CR]error_user()] as well. Neither the function call stack at the opening and closing of each function call nor the landmark information to determine how far the program is running are printed. These seem to be the most useful parts among all debugging options. [t_def -- debug-all] Enable all nine debugging informations including the function call stack and the landmark information. [t_def -- debug-filenames] Print the names of the files and man~pages that are displayed by groffer. [t_def -- debug-func] Enable the basic debugging information for checking the functions on the beginning and end of each call. The options [t_long debug-stacks] and [t_long debug-user] enable this option automatically. This option is important for the development, but it decreases the speed of groffer by large amounts. [t_def -- debug-keep] Enable two debugging informations, the printing of the name of the temporary directory and the keeping of the temporary files. [t_def -- debug-lm] Enable one debugging information, the landmark information. [t_def -- debug-params] Enable one debugging information, the parameters at several steps. [t_def -- debug-shell] Enable one debugging information, the shell name for [t_def -- debug-stacks] Enable one debugging information, the function call stack. [t_def -- debug-tmpdir] Enable one debugging information, the name of the temporary directory. [t_def -- debug-user] Enable one debugging information, the function stack with CR]error_user()]. [t_def -- do-nothing] This is like [t_long version] but without the output; no viewer is started. This makes only sense in development. [t_def -- print=text] Just print the argument to standard error. This is good for parameter check. [t_def -- shell shell_program] Specify the shell under which the script should be run. This option overwrites the automatic shell determination of the program. If the argument shell_program is empty a former shell option and the automatic shell determination is cancelled and the default shell is restored. Some shells run considerably faster than the standard shell. [t_def - V] This is an advanced option for debugging only. Instead of displaying the formatted input, a lot of groffer specific information is printed to standard output:
- the output file name in the temporary directory, the display mode of the actual groffer run, the display program for viewing the output with its arguments, the active parameters from the config files, the arguments in and the arguments of the command line, the pipeline that would be run by the groff program, but without executing it.
Filespec ArgumentsA filespec parameter is an argument that is not an option or option argument. In groffer, filespec parameters are a file name or a template for searching man~pages. These input sources are collected and composed into a single output file such as groff does. The strange CR]POSIX] behavior to regard all arguments behind the first non-option argument as filespec arguments is ignored. The CR]GNU] behavior to recognize options even when mixed with filespec arguments is used througout. But, as usual, the double minus argument [t_long] ends the option handling and interprets all following arguments as filespec arguments; so the CR]POSIX] behavior can be easily adopted. The options have a special handling of filespec arguments. Each argument is taken as a search scheme of its own. Also a regexp (regular expression) can be used in the filespec. For example, groffer --apropos '^gro.f$' searches groff in the man~page name, while groffer --apropos groff searches groff somewhere in the name or description of the man~pages. All other parts of groffer, such as the normal display or the output with have a different scheme for filespecs. No regular expressions are used for the arguments. The filespec arguments are handled by the following scheme. It is necessary to know that 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 a digit from 1 to 9 or one of the characters n or o. This can optionally be followed by a string, the so-called extension. The extension allows to store several man~pages with the same name in the same section. But the extension is only rarely used, usually it is omitted. Then the extensions are searched automatically by alphabet. In the following, we use the name section_extension for a word that consists of a single character section name or a section character that is followed by an extension. Each filespec parameter can have one of the following forms in decreasing sequence. No filespec parameters means that groffer waits for standard input. The minus option [t_short ] always stands for standard input; it can occur several times. If you want to look up a man~page called [t_short ] use the argument man:-. Next a filespec is tested whether it is the path name of an existing file. Otherwise it is assumed to be a searching pattern for a man~page. man:name(section_extension), man:name.section_extension, name(section_extension), or name.section_extension search the man~page name in man~section and possibly extension of section_extension. Now man:name searches for a man~page in the lowest man~section that has a document called name. section_extension~name is a pattern of 2 arguments that originates from a strange argument parsing of the man program. Again, this searches the man page name with section_extension, a combination of a section character optionally followed by an extension. 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.
OUTPUT MODESBy 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 [t_long_arg mode anymode] Additionally, each of this argument can be specified as an option of its own, such as [t_long anymode] Most of these modes have a viewer program, which can be chosen by an option that is constructed like [t_long anymode-viewer] Several different modes are offered, graphical modes for CR]X~Window], 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 [t_long default-modes.] The searching for man~pages and the decompression of the input are active in every mode.
Graphical Display ModesThe graphical display modes work mostly in the CR]X~Window] environment (or similar implementations within other windowing environments). The environment variable and the option [t_long display] are used for specifying the CR]X~Window] display to be used. If this environment variable is empty groffer assumes that no CR]X~Window] is running and changes to a text~mode. You can change this automatic behavior by the option [t_long default-modes] Known viewers for the graphical display modes and their standard CR]X~Window] viewer progams are in a PDF viewer (pdf~mode), in a web browser (html or www~mode). in a Postscript viewer (ps~mode), CR]X~Window] roff viewers such as gxditview(1) or xditview(1) (in x~mode), in a dvi viewer program (dvi~mode), The pdf~mode has a major advantage [em] 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 CR]X~Window~Toolkit]. But the groffer options use a leading double minus instead of the single minus used by the CR]X~Window~Toolkit].
Text modesThere are two 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 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_short T] or [t_long device] The pager to be used can be specified by one of the options [t_long pager] and [t_long tty-viewer] or by the environment variable If all of this is not used the less(1) program with the option [t_short r] for correctly displaying control sequences is used as the default pager.
Special Modes for Debugging and DevelopmentThese 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 option [t_long source] just displays the decompressed input. Otion [t_long to-stdout] does not display in a graphical mode. It just generates the file for the chosen mode and then prints its content to standard output. 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 [t_short 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.
MAN~PAGE~SEARCHINGThe 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 the name of a man~page. The following options can be used to determine whether the arguments should be handled as file name or man~page arguments.
- [t_long man]
- forces to interpret all file parameters as filespecs for searching man~pages.
- [t_long no-man]
- [t_long local-file]
- disable the man searching; so only local files are displayed. 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.
Search AlgoritmLet us now assume that a man~page should be searched. The groffer program provides a search facility for man~pages. All long options, all environment variables, and most of the functionality of the CR]GNU man(1) program were implemented. The search algorithm shall determine which file is displayed for a given man~page. The process can be modified by options and environment variables. The only man action that is omitted in groffer are the preformatted man~pages, also called cat~pages. With the excellent performance of the actual computers, the preformatted man~pages aren't necessary any longer. Additionally, groffer is a roff program; it wants to read roff source files and format them itself. The algorithm for retrieving the file for a man~page needs first a set of directories. This set starts with the so-called man~path that is modified later on by adding names of operating system and language. This arising set is used for adding the section directories which contain the man~page files. The man~path is a list of directories that are separated by colon. It is generated by the following methods. The environment variable can be set. It can be read from the arguments of the environment variable The man~path can be manually specified by using the option [t_long manpath] An empty argument disables the man~page searching. When no man~path was set the manpath(1) program is tried to determine one. If this does not work a reasonable default path from is determined. We now have a starting set of directories. The first way to change this set is by adding names of operating systems. This assumes that man~pages for several operating systems are installed. This is not always true. The names of such operating systems can be provided by 3 methods. The environment variable has the lowest precedence. This can be overridden by an option in This again is overridden by the command line option [t_long systems] Several names of operating systems can be given by appending their names, separated by a comma. The man~path is changed by appending each system name as subdirectory at the end of each directory of the set. No directory of the man~path set is kept. But if no system name is specified the man~path is left unchanged. After this, the actual set of directories can be changed by language information. This assumes that there exist man~pages in different languages. The wanted language can be chosen by several methods. Enviroment variable This is overridden by This is overridden by This can be overridden by providing an option in All these environment variables are overridden by the command line option [t_long locale] The default language can be specified by specifying one of the pseudo-language parameters CR]C or CR]POSIX. This is like deleting a formerly given language information. The man~pages in the default language are usually in English. Of course, the language name is determined by man. In CR]GNU man, it is specified in the CR]POSIX~1003.1 based format: I]<language>][CB]_]I]<territory>][CB].I]<character-set>][CB],I]<version>]]], but the two-letter code in <language> is sufficient for most purposes. If for a complicated language formulation no man~pages are found groffer searches the country part consisting of these first two characters as well. The actual directory set is copied thrice. The language name is appended as subdirectory to each directory in the first copy of the actual directory set (this is only done when a language information is given). Then the 2-letter abbreviation of the language name is appended as subdirectories to the second copy of the directory set (this is only done when the given language name has more than 2 letters). The third copy of the directory set is kept unchanged (if no language information is given this is the kept directory set). These maximally 3 copies are appended to get the new directory set. We now have a complete set of directories to work with. In each of these directories, the man files are separated in sections. The name of a section is represented by a single character, a digit between 1 and 9, or the character o or n, in this order. For each available section, a subdirectory exists containing all man files for this section, where <section> is a single character as described before. Each man file in a section directory has the form CB]man<section>CB]/<name>CB].<section>[<extension>][CB].<compression>], where <extension> and <compression> are optional. <name> is the name of the man~page that is also specified as filespec argument on the command line. The extension is an addition to the section. This postfix acts like a subsection. An extension occurs only in the file name, not in name of the section subdirectory. It can be specified on the command line. On the other hand, the compression is just an information on how the file is compressed. This is not important for the user, such that it cannot be specified on the command line. There are 4 methods to specify a section on the command line: Environment variable Command line option [t_long sections] Appendix to the name argument in the form <name>.<section> Preargument before the name argument in the form <section> <name> It is also possible to specify several sections by appending the single characters separated by colons. One can imagine that this means to restrict the man~page search to only some sections. The multiple sections are only possible for and [t_long sections] If no section is specified all sections are searched one after the other in the given order, starting with section~1, until a suitable file is found. There are 4 methods to specify an extension on the command line. But it is not necessary to provide the whole extension name, some abbreviation is good enough in most cases. Environment variable Command line option [t_long extension] Appendix to the <name>.<section> argument in the form <name>.<section><extension> Preargument before the name argument in the form <section><extension> <name> For further details on man~page searching, see man(1).
Examples of man files
- This is an uncompressed file for the man~page CR]groff in section~1. It can be called by
ell_cmd groffer~groffNo section is specified here, so all sections should be searched, but as section~1 is searched first this file will be found first. The file name is composed of the following components. must be part of the man~path; the subdirectory and the part stand for the section; is the name of the man~page.
- The file name is composed of the following components. must be part of the man~path; the subdirectory and the part stand for the section; is the name of the man~page; the final part stands for a compression with gzip(1). As the section is not the first one it must be specified as well. This can be done by one of the following commands.
- Here must be in man~path; the subdirectory and the file name part stand for section~1; the name of the man~page is the section has an extension and the file is compressed as with bzip2(1). The file can be viewed with one of the following commands
ell_cmd groffer~--extension=e~--sections=1~ctagswhere CR]e works as an abbreviation for the extension CR]emacs21.
- The directory is now part of the man~path; then there is a subdirectory for an operating system name next comes a subdirectory for the German language; the section names and are known so far; is the name of the man~page; and signifies the compression that can be handled by gzip(1). We want now show how to provide several values for some options. That is possible for sections and operating system names. So we use as sections~5 and 7 and as system names linux and aix. The command is then
DECOMPRESSIONThe 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 CR]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.
ENVIRONMENTThe groffer program supports many system variables, most of them by courtesy of other programs. All environment variables of groff(1) and CR]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. Do not forget to export this variable, otherwise it does not exist during the run of groffer.
System VariablesThe groffer program is a shell script that is run through 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.
- If this variable is set this indicates that the CR]X~Window system is running. Testing this variable decides on whether graphical or text output is generated. This variable should not be changed by the user carelessly, but it can be used to start the graphical groffer on a remote CR]X~Window terminal. For example, depending on your system, groffer can be started on the second monitor by the command
ell_cmd DISPLAY=:0.1~groffer~ what.ever
- If one of these variables is set (in the above sequence), its content is interpreted as the locale, the language to be used, especially when retrieving IR man~pages . A locale name is typically of the form language[_territory[.codeset[@modifier]]], where language is an ISO 639 language code, territory is an ISO 3166 country code, and codeset is a character set or encoding identifier like ISO-8859-1 or UTF-8; see setlocale(3). The locale values CR]C and CR]POSIX stand for the default, i.e. the man~page directories without a language prefix. This is the same behavior as when all 3~variables are unset.
- 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) program
ell_cmd PAGER=cat~groffer~ anything
- 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.
Groff VariablesThe groffer program internally calls groff, so all environment variables documented in groff(1) are internally used within groffer as well. The following variable has a direct meaning for the groffer program.
- If the value of this variable is an existing, writable directory, groffer uses it for storing its temporary files, just as groff does.
Man VariablesParts 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 which in turn is overwritten by the command line.
- Restrict the search for man~pages to files having this extension. This is overridden by option [t_long extension] see there for details.
- This variable contains options as a preset for man(1). As not all of these are relevant for groffer only the essential parts of its value are extracted. The options specified in this variable overwrite the values of the other environment variables that are specific to man. All options specified in this variable are overridden by the options given on the command line.
- If set, this variable contains the directories in which the man~page trees are stored. This is overridden by option [t_long manpath]
- If this is a colon separated list of section names, the search for man~pages is restricted to those manual sections in that order. This is overridden by option [t_long sections]
- If this is set to a comma separated list of names these are interpreted as man~page trees for different operating systems. This variable can be overwritten by option [t_long systems] see there for details. The environment variable is ignored by groffer because the necessary preprocessors are determined automatically.
CONFIGURATION FILESThe groffer program can be preconfigured by two configuration files.
- System-wide configuration file for groffer.
User-specific configuration file for
denotes the user's home directory.
This file is called after the system-wide configuration file to enable
overriding by the user.
Both files are handled for the configuration, but the configuration
comes first; it is overwritten by the configuration file in the home
directory; both configuration files are overwritten by the environment
everything is overwritten by the command line arguments.
In the configuration files, arbitrary spaces are allowed at the
beginning of each line, they are just ignored.
Apart from that, the lines of the configuration lines either start
with a minus character, all other lines are interpreted as shell
The lines with the beginning minus are interpreted as
This easily allows to set general
options that should be used with any call of
If a lines starts with a double minus it represents a
long option; everything behind the first equal sign
or space character up to the end of the line is interpreted as its
A line starting with a single minus represents a short options cluster
with or without a final argument.
It is not necessary to use quotes in these lines; quotes are just
The lines starting with a minus are changed into a prepend to the
existing value of
So the configuration files will be transferred into a shell script
that is called within
It makes sense to use these configuration files for the following
Preset command line options, such as choosing a
or a viewer.
These are written into lines starting with a single or double minus
sign, followed by the option name.
Preset environment variables recognized by
but do not forget to export them.
You can also write a shell function for calling, for example a viewer
program for some
Such a function can be fed into a corresponding
to specify a shell for the run of
Some shells run much faster than the standard shell.
As an example, consider the following configuration file in
# groffer configuration file # # groffer options that are used in each call of groffer --shell=ksh --foreground=DarkBlue --resolution=100 --x-viewer=gxditview -geometry 900x1200 # # some shell commands if test "$DISPLAY" = ""; then export DISPLAY='localhost:0.0' fi date >>~/mygroffer.logThe lines starting with # are command lines. This configuration sets four groffer options (the lines starting with `-') and runs two shell commands (the rest of the script). This has the following effects: Use ksh as the shell to run the groffer script; if it works it should be faster than the usual sh. Use a text color of DarkBlue in all viewers that support this, such as gxditview. Use a resolution of 100~dpi in all viewers that support this, such as gxditview. By this, the default device in x mode is set to X100. Force gxditview(1) as the x-mode viewer using the geometry option for setting the width to 900~dpi and the height to 1200~dpi. This geometry is suitable for a resolution of 100~dpi. If the environment variable is empty set it to localhost:0.0. That allows to start groffer in the standard CR]X~Window 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 in the home directory.
EXAMPLESThe 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.
ell_cmd+ groffer --x --bg red --fg yellow --geometry 200x100 -
COMPATIBILITYThe groffer program consists of two shell scripts. The starting script is the file that is installed in a directory. It is generated from the source file It is just a short starting script without any functions such that it can run on very poor shells. The main part of the groffer program is the file that is installed in the groff library directory. This script can be run under a different shell by using the groffer option [t_long shell] Both scripts are compatible with both CR]GNU and CR]POSIX. CR]POSIX compatibility refers to CR]IEEE~P1003.2/D11.2 of September 1991, a very early version of the CR]POSIX standard that is still freely available in the internet at Only a restricted set of shell language elements and shell builtins is used to achieve even compatibility with some Bourne shells that are not fully CR]POSIX compatible. The groffer shell scripts were tested on many shells, including the following Bourne shells: ash(1), bash(1), dash(1), ksh(1), pdksh(1), posh(1), and zsh(1). So it should work on most actual free and commercial operating systems. The shell for the run of can be chosen by the option [t_long shell] on the command line or the environment variable If you want to add it to one of the groffer configuration files you must write a line starting with [t_long shell] The groffer program provides its own parser for command line arguments that is compatible to both CR]POSIX getopts(1) and CR]GNU getopt(1). It can handle option arguments and file names containing white space and a large set of special characters. The following standard types of options are supported. The option consisiting of a single minus [t_short] refers to standard input. A single minus followed by characters refers to a single character option or a combination thereof; for example, the groffer short option combination [t_short Qmfoo] is equivalent to [t_short Q~-m~foo] Long options are options with names longer than one character; they are always preceded 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, [t_alt -- long=arg] is equivalent to [t_alt -- long~arg] An argument of [t_--] ends option parsing; all further command line arguments are interpreted as filespec parameters, i.e. file names or constructs for searching man~pages). 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
ell_cmd groffer file1 -a -o arg file2is equivalent to
ell_cmd groffer -a -o arg -- file1 file2The free mixing of options and filespec parameters follows the GNU principle. That does not fulfill the strange option behavior of CR]POSIX that ends option processing as soon as the first non-option argument has been reached. The end of option processing can be forced by the option `--' anyway.
BUGSReport bugs to the Include a complete, self-contained example that will allow the bug to be reproduced, and say which version of groffer you are using. You can also use the but you must first subscribe to this list. You can do that by visiting the See groff(1) for information on availability.
SEE ALSOgroff(1), troff(1)
- Details on the options and environment variables available in groff; all of them can be used with 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).
- Documentation on the groff macro files.
The standard program to display
The information there is only useful if it is the
Then it documents the options and environment variables that are
- Bourne shells that were tested with groffer.
- Viewers for groffer's x~mode.
- Viewers for groffer's ps~mode.
- Viewers for groffer's pdf~mode.
- Viewers for groffer's dvi~mode.
- Web-browsers for groffer's html or www~mode.
Standard pager program for the
- The decompression programs supported by groffer.
AUTHORThis file was written by
COPYINGCopyright (C) 2001,2002,2004,2005,2006 Free Software Foundation, Inc. This file is part of groffer, which 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 CR]GNU General Public License] along with groff, see the files CB]COPYING] and CB]LICENSE] in the top directory of the groff source package. read the man~page gpl(1). You can also write to the Free Software Foundation, 51 Franklin St - Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02110-1301, USA.
- OPTION OVERVIEW
- OPTION DETAILS
- OUTPUT MODES
- ell_cmd groffer~groff
- ell_cmd groffer~groff.7
- ell_cmd groffer~7~groff
- ell_cmd groffer~--sections=7~groff
- ell_cmd groffer~ctags.1e
- ell_cmd groffer~1e~ctags
- ell_cmd groffer~--extension=e~--sections=1~ctags
- ell_cmd groffer~--locale=de~--sections=5:7~--systems=linux,aix~man
- ell_cmd LANG=de~MANSECT=5:7~SYSTEM=linux,aix~groffer~man
- ell_cmd DISPLAY=:0.1~groffer~ what.ever &
- ell_cmd PAGER=cat~groffer~ anything
- CONFIGURATION FILES
- ell_cmd groffer~/usr/local/share/doc/groff/meintro.ms.gz
- ell_cmd groffer~groff
- ell_cmd groffer~man:groff
- ell_cmd groffer~groff.7
- ell_cmd groffer~7~groff
- ell_cmd groffer~fb.modes
- ell_cmd groffer~groff~[cq]troff(1)[cq]~man:roff
- ell_cmd LANG=de~groffer~--man~--www~--www-viever=galeon~ls
- ell_cmd groffer~--source~'man:roff(7)'
- ell_cmd groffer~--de-p~--in~--ap
- ell_cmd groffer~--debug-params~--intermediate-output~--apropos
- ell_cmd cat~file.gz~|~groffer~-Z~-mfoo
- ell_cmd echo~'[rs]f[CB]WOW!'~|
- ell_cmd+ groffer --x --bg red --fg yellow --geometry 200x100 -
- ell_cmd groffer file1 -a -o arg file2
- ell_cmd groffer -a -o arg -- file1 file2
- SEE ALSO
This document was created by man2html, using the manual pages.
Time: 05:29:04 GMT, December 24, 2015