pud - Portable Unix Documentation for manual pages and faq documents
Portable Unix Documentation or pud currently provides two mini-languages for
authoring in the UNIX environment. The two mini-languages are for writing UNIX
manual pages and faq documents. Source documents in pud languages can be
compiled to either cross-linked html or to troff. The troff output can be
further compiled into PostScript, pdf, and plain text.
3. Table of Contents
4. Portable Unix Documentation extends Aephea and zoem
5. Getting started
6. UNIX manual pages in html, troff and PostScript
7. faq documents in html, troff and PostScript
8. Manuals and faq examples elsewhere
9. DocBook considered harmful
10. Info evil
12. SEE ALSO
Portable Unix Documentation (pud) is part of the Aephea documentation
. Aephea is built on top of zoem
an all-purpose macro/programming language. Both Aephea and pud documents are
processed by compiling them with the zoem processor. The documents themselves
are generally well-structured, relatively free of formatting statements and
compact to write. They can be easily extended since the full zoem language is
available from within a pud document.
Portable Unix Documentation is currently shipped with Aephea
. You will
also need to install zoem
i Get and install both Aephea
(http://micans.org/aephea) and zoem
(http://micans.org/zoem). Follow the instructions in the Aephea README file,
which boil down to this recipe:
./configure --with-includepath=$AEPHEAPREFIX/share/aephea --prefix=$OTHERPREFIX
All pud files will be installed as you install Aephea. If you are reading this
locally on your system, chances are zoem and Aephea are installed.
ii On this page read the pointers in section Section 6
if you want
to write a manual page. Read the pointers in section Section 7
if you want to write an faq. The fastest way to get up to speed is to copy and
modify a template or existing source document.
iii While writing your document, consult the pud-man(7)
documentation, and the aephea-base(7)
documentation as necessary.
iv Off you go. If you need macro facilities or programming facilities, zoem is
there to assist you. Simple macro tasks are easy to accomplish. For more
involved stuff you might want to consult the Zoem User Manual (or zum). zum
should be installed locally. Alternatively view the latest zum at
(http://micans.org/zoem/doc/zum.html) or subscribe to the mailing
With the pud-man(7)
package you create manual pages for output in either
(groff, nroff) or html. The first can be viewed from a terminal,
the second in a browser.
The fictitious buzzz
utility is described in a pud manual page. It is
shipped with every zoem distribution and the manual page should be installed
locally in the same location as its source. If the location is hard to find
you can just obtain the pud source from the zoem source distribution, or
alternatively you may view the latest buzzz source
(http://micans.org/aephea/src/aephea-latest/mac/doc/buzzz.azm) upstream at
micans. Further links are to the PostScript version
(http://micans.org/aephea/src/aephea-latest/mac/doc/buzzz.ps) and the plain
For other examples consider the oldest pud manual page ever written: the mcl
(http://micans.org/mcl/man/mcl.html), the same in
(http://micans.org/mcl/man/mcl.ps), and the source
for all this
(http://micans.org/mcl/man/mcl.azm). By using the venerable
program, the troff output can be converted to nice looking plain
(http://micans.org/mcl/man/mcl.txt). Find the troff
(http://micans.org/mcl/man/mcl.1) disclosed as well.
There are some 20+ manual pages for different utilities in the mcl family
Create faq documents with pud-faq(7)
for output in either troff
(groff, nroff) or html. The former can be viewed in a terminal via the UNIX
man page system, the latter can be viewed in a browser.
The pud faq mini-language
is described as a rather trivial faq itself. It
can be viewed in PostScript
(compiled from troff compiled from the
and in plain text
(again compiled from troff).
For examples behold the browsing delight
(http://micans.org/mcl/man/mclfaq.html) that is the mcl faq, and the
(http://micans.org/mcl/man/mclfaq.ps). Find the
(http://micans.org/mcl/man/mclfaq.7), and the
(http://micans.org/mcl/man/mclfaq.azm) for all that jazz.
exist writing pud. Not many yet. Joost van Baal has used the
pud-faq package and the pud-man package to create documentation for GnuPG
(http://mdcc.cx/pub/caspar/caspar-latest/doc/), and the strong (fire)walls
People justly wonder why pud turns away from the blazing light of goodness that
is DocBook. DocBook does provide manual page elements and it does support
gazillions of output devices. Nevertheless DocBook man pages are a cruelty, a
curse and the bane of all things good and pure.
DocBook cannot be written, it cannot be maintained, it cannot be programmed.
Yes, XML and DocBook are not supposed
to be programmed, but where is
the decree that man should toil and suffer so that his documentation would be
transmogrifyable into all eternity?
DocBook provides some sort of manual page ontology, describing supposedly every
element you might ever need. Inevitably you will want to do things that are
not provided and then you are stuck. DocBook lists and enumerations are
painful and limited. The verbosity of DocBook makes a mountain out of what
should be a mole hill.
pud manual pages are concise and can be easily cross-referenced. The source is a
pleasure to read and output from self-documenting commands can be imported.
Zoem IO, macro and programming facilities make the source extendable so that
new requirements can be coped with.
Wise people argue that one cannot fathom the needs of future generations and
urge the good people of UNIX to use DocBook. The fool knows that this
particular premise disproves the thesis and that joy begets joy. Factor the
present into the authoring sustainability equation and the scales tip.
At this juncture, I am hesitantly willing to bet that the pud languages can
easily be ported to DocBook. None of the pain, all of the gain. The pud
environment is a sticking point though. It provides, horrors, a
few formatting options. Optional paragraphs skips, compact mode,
right-alignment of items, automatic enumeration, and the fantabulous
The good people of info consider manual pages obsolete. What more is there to
say? It is all written here
pud was written by Stijn van Dongen.