[TUHS] man-page style

Grant Taylor gtaylor at tnetconsulting.net
Sun Dec 2 07:34:43 AEST 2018

On 12/1/18 1:52 PM, Norman Wilson wrote:
> Bill's half right.  I didn't invent a language; I used what was there.

Can I ask what language you did use?  Was it m4 or something else?

> I decided that the best way to deal with Sendmail's own configuration 
> language was to treat it as I would the assembly language for a 
> specialized, irregularly-designed microprocessor:
> 1.  Understand as well as possible what the instructions actually do;
> 2.  Write the simplest possible program that will get the job done;
> 3.  Avoid extra layers of macros and so on that hide the details, because 
> that also hides the irregularities and makes it harder to understand 
> and debug;
> 4.  By the same reason, don't just copy someone else's program that does 
> something complicated; write your own and do things simply.
> Sendmail has plenty of design flaws (not just in the language), as 
> I'm sure Eric will acknowledge; but I think the biggest problem people 
> have had with it that most people copied the rather-complicated sample 
> configuration files shipped with the source rather than just reading 
> the manual, doing a few experiments to understand the behaviour, and 
> writing something simple.

I see the same lack of understanding in a lot of things.

> On the other hand, I've never quite understood why so many people 
> treat device drivers as scary and untouchable, copying an existing one 
> and hacking it until it seems to work rather than understanding what 
> the device actually does and writing a simple program to control it. 
> So perhaps my brain just doesn't work normally.

For me, I don't know where to get good documentation of what the device 
actually does and how to make it do it.  I also don't have a good (read: 
any) understanding of the OS / kernels that I'd connect the device to. 
So, writing software to connect the device (I don't fully comprehend) to 
the OS / kernel (that I don't fully comprehend) in a language (that I'm 
not fluent in) is an uphill battle for me.  I have great respect and 
gratitude for the people that do write device drivers.

I don't create the Lego bricks.  But I do try to build interesting and 
useful things out of the Lego bricks that others have built.

Grant. . . .
unix || die

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