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Writing an article using mdoc format

Written by Solène, on 03 July 2018.
Tags: #unix

Comments on Fediverse/Mastodon

I never wrote a man page. I already had to read at the source of a man page, but I was barely understand what happened there. As I like having fun and discovering new things (people call me a Hipster since last days days ;-) ).

I modified cl-yag (the website generator used for this website) to be only produced by mdoc files. The output was not very cool as it has too many html items (classes, attributes, tags etc…). The result wasn’t that bad but it looked like concatenated man pages.

I actually enjoyed playing with mdoc format (the man page format on OpenBSD, I don’t know if it’s used somewhere else). While it’s pretty verbose, it allows to separate the formatting from the paragraphs. As I’m playing with ed editor last days, it is easier to have an article written with small pieces of lines rather than a big paragraph including the formatting.

Finally I succeded at writing a command line which produced an usable html output to use it as a converter in cl-yag. Now, I’ll be able to write my articles in the mdoc format if I want :D (which is fun). The convert command is really ugly but it actually works, as you can see if you read this.

cat data/%IN  | mandoc -T markdown | sed -e '1,2d' -e '$d' | multimarkdown -t html -o %OUT

The trick here was to use markdown as an convert format between mdoc to html. As markdown is very weak compared to html (in possibilities), it will only use simple tags for formatting the html output. The sed command is needed to delete the mandoc output with the man page title at the top, and the operating system at the bottom.

By having played with this, writing a man page is less obscure to me and I have a new unusual format to use for writing my articles. Maybe unusual for this use case, but still very powerful!