groffer - display groff files and man pages on X and tty
groffer [viewing_options] [man_options] [groff_options] [--] [filespec...]
These options determine and configure the display mode. They were synchronized
with the options of both groff(1) and GNU man(1). As groff uses almost any letter
in its option set, only long option names are available for most features. If none
of these options is used groffer tries to find a suitable display mode automatical-
[-Q|--source] [-T|--device device] [--auto-modes mode1,mode2,...] [--debug]
[--default] [--dvi] [--dvi-viewer prog] [--groff] [--location] [--mode
display_mode] [--pager program] [--pdf] [--pdf-viewer prog] [--ps] [--ps-viewer
prog] [--shell] [--tty] [--www] [--www-viewer prog] [--x] [--x-viewer prog]
The following long options were adapted from the corresponding X Toolkit options
with a single leading minus; see X(1).
[--bd] [--bg|--background] [--bw] [--display] [--fg|--foreground] [--ft|--font]
[--geometry size_pos] [--resolution value] [--rv] [--title string] [--xrm
Any combination of (short) options from the groff(1) program is accepted; the op-
tions that are not explicitly handled by groffer are transparently passed to groff.
Due to the automatism in groffer, none of these groff options should be necessary,
except for advanced usage.
Because of the special outputting behavior of the groff options -V, -X, and -Z,
groffer was designed to be switched into groff mode by each of these options; in
this mode, the groffer viewing features are disabled.
The other groff options do not switch the mode, but allow to customize the format-
ting process. Useful groff formatting options include -m (to add macro files that
cannot be recognized by grog), and -T (to specify an alternative device for the
modes tty and x).
These options regulate whether and how man pages are searched. They are compatible
with the long options of the GNU man program.
[--all] [--ascii] [--apropos] [--ditroff] [--extension suffix] [--locale language]
[--local-file] [--man] [--manpath dir1:dir2:...] [--no-location] [--no-man]
[--sections sec1:sec2:...] [--systems sys1,sys2,...] [--troff-device device]
The GNU man long options that are not mentioned are recognized, but they are just
ignored because of alternative implementations. The full set of long and short op-
tions of the GNU man program can be passed via the environment variable $MANOPT;
see man(1) if your system has GNU man installed.
is a sequence of file names or templates for searching man pages, see man(1). A
filespec can have one of the following forms.
filename the path name of an existing file.
- stands for standard input (can occur several times).
search the man page name in section section.
search the man page name in section section.
man:name search the man page name in the lowest available section.
search the man page name in section section.
search the man page name in section section.
if this is `1', ..., `9', `o', or `n' try to retrieve the next argument
as a man page in this section.
name search for the man page name in the lowest available section.
No filespec parameters means standard input.
For details on the options, see section OPTIONS.
The groffer program is part of groff(7). It can be used to display arbitrary documents
written in the roff(7) formatting language in several different ways, in an X window view-
er program or in a text terminal. The viewer programs can be chosen as the groff native
viewer gxditview(1), a Postcript or dvi display program, or a web browser.
A search facility for manual pages ( man pages) is provided. Almost the whole functional-
ity of the GNU man program was provided or suitably adapted. This makes the groffer pro-
gram a valuable tool on systems with a poor man system.
The program always concatenates all input specified by the non-option parameters of the
calling command line or standard input. Compressed standard input or files are decom-
Normally, the input is run through the groff(1) text processor before being displayed. By
using the option -Q, the roff source code is displayed without formatting.
The formatting process can be regulated by all options that are available groff. By using
the -T option, groffer can be switched to behave exactly like groff without using its
viewer facilities, but additionally with the search and decompression features.
All necessary options can be determined automatically. For example, the groffer program
internally uses the grog(1) program to determine from the unformatted document which pre-
processors should be run and which macro files should be included. But all parts of the
program can be controlled manually by suitable options.
The groffer program provides its own parser for command line options that is compatible to
both POSIX getopts(1) and GNU getopt(1). The command line behaves as usually. For com-
pleteness, the details are provided here.
The following types of options are supported, equally on all systems that are able to run
the groffer program:
o single character options are always preceded by a single minus character, for example,
o the argument for a single character option is the next command line argument, for exam-
ple, -o arg, or can be appended to the option character within the same argument -o
o clusters of such single character options without an argument, eventually terminated by
a single character option with an argument; for example, -abo arg is equivalent to
-a -b -o arg .
o Long options, that means option with names longer than one character 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.
o An argument of -- ends option parsing; all further command line arguments are interpret-
ed as filespec arguments.
o 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 file 2
is, by default, equivalent to
sh# groffer -a -o arg -- file1 file 2
o This behavior can be changed by setting the environment variable $POSIXLY_CORRECT to a
non-empty value; in this case, option processing is stopped as soon as the first non-op-
tion argument is found. For example, in posixly correct mode, the command line
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
Compatibility with Options from other Programs
All short options of groffer are compatible with the short options of groff(1). Some of
the groff options were given a special meaning within groffer. All other groff options
are supported by groffer, but they are just transparently transferred to groff without any
intervention. Therefore these transparent options are not documented here, but in
All long options of groffer are compatible with the long options of man(1). Most of the
man long options were implemented as native options into groffer. These options are docu-
mented in the following; the other man options are recognized, but ignored.
Native groffer Options
-h Print usage message to standard error and exit.
-Q Output the roff source code of the input files unprocessed. This is the equivalent
Switch to --mode device, thus disabling the groffer viewing. Instead, the input is
formatted and postprocessed using plain groff with devname as the output device.
The allowed device names are listed in groff(1). Note that this forces all device
names that begin with the letter X to be displayed with gxditview(1); all other de-
vice names generate output for the specified device; this is printed onto standard
output without a pager.
-v Print version information onto standard error.
-V Switch into groff mode and format the input with groff option -V; this produces the
groff calling pipe without formatting the input. This an advanced option from
groff(1), only useful for debugging.
-X Switch into groff mode and format the input with groff option -X; actually, this
formats the input and displays it with gxditview(1). This differs from groffer's
mode x because groffer's viewer options are not used, but the viewer is configured
like in groff with the groff option -P. This option is inhereted from groff(1).
-Z Switch into groff mode and format the input with groff option -Z; this produces the
groff intermediate output without postprocessing; see groff_out(1). This an ad-
vanced option from groff(1), useful for debugging.
--all In searching man pages, retrieve all suitable ones instead of only one.
Instead of displaying, start the `apropos' command for searching within man page
descriptions; only kept for compatibility with `man'.
Set the sequence of modes for default mode to the comma separated list given in the
This is equivalent to --bg.
Specifies the color of the border surrounding the viewer window. This is an adap-
tion of the X Toolkit option -bd. The argument is an X color name, see(1) for de-
Set the background color of the viewer window. This is an adaption of the X Tool-
kit option -bg. The argument is an X color name, see(1) for details.
Specifies the width in pixels of the border surrounding the viewer window (not
available for all viewers). This is an adaption of the X Toolkit option -bw.
Print debugging information. Actually, a function call stack is printed if an er-
Reset all configuration from previously processed command line options to the de-
fault values. This is useful to wipe out all effects of former options and restart
option processing using only the rest of the command line.
Eqivalent to -T.
Set the X display on which the viewer program shall be started, see X(1) for the
syntax of the argument.
Eqivalent to -Z. This is kept for compatibiliy with GNU man(1).
--dvi Choose dvi mode; the formatted input is displayed with the by default, the format-
ted input is displayed with the xdvi(1) program.
Set the viewer program for dvi mode. This can be a file name or a program to be
searched in $PATH. Known dvi viewers inlude xdvi(1) and dvilx(1) In each case, ar-
guments can be provided additionally.
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. Originates from GNU man.
This is equivalent to -fg.
Set the foreground color of the viewer window. This is an adaption of the X Tool-
kit option -bg. The argument is an X color name, see(1) for details.
This is equivalent to -ft.
Set the font used by the viewer window. This is an adaption of the X Toolkit op-
tion -ft. The argument is an X font name, see(1) for details.
Set the geometry of the display window, that means its size and its starting posi-
tion. See X(1) for details on the syntax of the argument. If the actual display
mode is not X then this option is ignored.
Set groff mode. Switch groffer to process the input like groff(1). This disables
the groffer viewing features, all groffer viewing options are ignored.
--help Eqivalent to -h.
Print the location of the retrieved files to standard error.
Set the language for man pages. This option originates from GNU man(1).
--man Check the non-option command line arguments (filespecs) first on being man pages,
then whether they represent an existing file. By default, a filespec is first
tested if it is an existing file.
Use the specified search path for retrieving man pages instead of the program de-
faults. If the argument is set to the empty string "" the search for man page is
Set the display mode. The following mode values are recognized:
auto Display in the default manner; this actually means to try the modes ps, x,
and tty in this sequence. Useful for restoring default mode when a differ-
ent mode was specified with $GROFFER_OPT.
dvi Display formatted input in a dvi viewer program; equivalent to --dvi.
pdf Display formatted input in a PDF (Portable Document Format) viewer program;
equivalent to --pdf.
ps Display formatted input in a Postscript viewer program; equivalent to --ps.
tty Display formatted input in a text terminal; equivalent to --tty.
www Display formatted input in a internet browser program; equivalent to --www.
x Display formatted input in a native roff viewer such as gxditview(1);equiva-
The following modes do not use the groffer viewing features. They are only inter-
esting 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 de-
fault ps is assumed.
source Display source code; same as -Q.
Do not display the location of retireved files; this resets a former call to
Do not check for man pages.
Set the pager program in tty mode; default is less.
--pdf Choose pdf mode (Portable Document Format). By default, the input is formatted by
groff using the Postscript device, then it is transformed into the PDF file format
using gs(1) (this is quite slow), and finally displayed either with the xpdf(1) or
the acroread(1) program; this can be configured with option --viewer-pdf. PDF has
a big advantage because the text is displayed graphically and is searchable never-
theless; but as thtransformation into pdf takes a considerable amount of time, the
pdf mode is not suitable as a default device for the auto mode. The only device
that is compatible to this mode is ps, which is also the default when no device is
Set the viewer program for pdf mode. This can be a file name or a program to be
searched in $PATH. In each case, arguments can be provided additionally.
--ps Choose ps mode (Postscript). By default, the formatted input is displayed with the
ghostview(1) program; this can be configured with option --viewer-ps. The only de-
vice that is compatible to this mode is ps, which is also the default when no de-
vice is specified.
Set the viewer program for ps mode. This can be a file name or a program to be
searched in $PATH. Common Postscript viewers inlude gv(1), ghostview(1), and
gs(1), In each case, arguments can be provided additionally.
Set X resolution in dpi (dots per inch) in some viewer programs. The only support-
ed dpi values are 75 and 100. This is an adaption of the X Toolkit option
--rv Reverse foreground and background color of the viewer window. This is an adaption
of the X Toolkit option -rv. This feature is not available in all viewer programs.
Restrict searching for man pages to the given sections, a colon-separated list.
Specify the shell under which the groffer script should be run. The script first
tests whether this option is set (either within $GROFF_OPT or as a command line op-
tion); if so, the script is rerun under the shell program specified with the option
Equivalent to -Q.
Search for man pages for the given operating systems; the argument systems is a
--title 'some text'
Set the title for the viewer window. This feature is not available in all viewer
Eqivalent to -P.
Eqivalent to -T. This option is only kept for compatibility with GNU man(1).
--tty Choose tty display mode, that means displaying in a text pager even when in X; eqi-
valent to --mode tty.
Eqivalent to -v.
Instead of displaying the content, get the one-liner description from the retrieved
man page files -- or say that it is not a man page.
Eqivalent to --location.
--www Choose www mode (html), display in a web browser program, which can be specified
with option --www-viewer. By default, the existence of a sequence of standard web
browsers is tested, starting with mozilla(1) and netscape(1)
Set the web browser program for viewing in www mode. Each program that accepts
html input and allows the file://localhost/dir/file syntax on the command line is
suitable; it can be the path name of an executable file or a program in $PATH. In
each case, arguments can be provided additionally.
--x Choose x mode (view in X roff viewer). By default, the formatted input is dis-
played with the gxditview(1) program, being distributed together with groff, or
with xditview(1), which is distributed as a standard X tool. This can be config-
ured with option --x-viewer. The only devices (option -T) that are compatible with
this mode are X75, X100, X75-12, X100-12, and ps (the default device).
Set the viewer program for x mode. Suitable viewer programs are gxditview(1) and
xditview(1). But the argument can be any executable file or a program in $PATH.
In each case, arguments can be provided additionally.
-- Signals the end of option processing; all remaining arguments are interpreted as
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 pack-
ages, compatibility with classical troff, and much more can be manually specified.
By default, the groffer program formats the input and then automatically chooses a suit-
able display mode, but the user can also choose between the following modes:
o graphically display the formatted input with an X window program, including
o with X window roff viewers such as gxditview(1) (x mode),
o in a dvi viewer program (dvi mode),
o in a Postscript viewer (ps mode),
o in a PDF viewer (pdf mode),
o in a web browser (www mode),
o display formatted input in a pager on the text terminal (tty mode),
o run groffer like groff, but with decompression and man page searching (groff mode); this
includes things like generating the groff intermediate output.
o stream the unformatted source code of the input onto standard output (source mode),
By default, groffer first tries whether x mode is possible, then ps mode, and finally tty
mode. This mode testing sequence for default 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 implementa-
tions within other windowing environments). The environment variable $DISPLAY or the op-
tion --display are used for specifying the X display to be used; if neither is specified,
groffer assumes that no X is running.
A certain graphical display mode can be selected by one of the options --dvi, --pdf, --ps,
-X, and --www. By default, some graphical modes are tried first. If none succeeds grof-
fer switches to tty mode.
The graphical modes can be customized by options that were named according to the resource
options in the X(1) Toolkit but using a leading double minus instead of the single minus
used by X. These include --background, --foreground, --geometry, --resolution, --title,
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 a long time to transform the input into the PDF format, so it was not chosen as
the major mode. You can change this by the options --pdf and --auto-modes.
Displaying on a tty
If the variable $DISPLAY is not set or empty, groffer assumes that it should produce out-
put on a text terminal. This mode can also be forced by option --tty.
In the actual implementation, the groff output device latin1 is chosen and the processed
output is piped into a pager program. This can be changed by specifying option --tty-
The pager to be used can be specified by option --pager by the environment variable
$PAGER. If this is not set or empty the less(1) program is used as the default pager.
There are some special modes that do not display the formatted output in a viewer program.
These modes are regarded as advanced, they are useful for debugging purposes.
Instead of displaying the formatted output, it is also possible to have the roff
source code streamed onto the standard output. This mode must be requested by one
of the options -Q or --source.
This mode disables the groffer viewing facilities. The input is handled as usual
with decompression and man page searching, but then it is passed to groff using on-
ly the options provided by groff. This enables the user to save the generated out-
put into a file or pipe it into another program. In this mode, the input is for-
matted, but not postprocessed; see groff_out(5) for details. This mode is activat-
ed automatically by the three groff options -V (print roff pipe, no formatting), -X
(display with gxditview in groff's native way, using -P for customization), and -Z
(disable post-processing, thus producing the groff intermediate output).
The non-option command line parameters determine which files should be displayed.
The default behavior of groffer is to first test whether the file parameter is represents
a local file; if not, it is assumed to represent a filespec for searching one or more
man page. This behavior can be modified by options.
--man forces to interpret all file parameters as filespecs for searching man pages.
disable the man searching; so only local files are displayed.
The following parameter formats are recognized to represent a wanted man page.
the quasi-URL notation used in many Desktop systems to represent the man page name
search the man page name in the lowest section. The corresponding command with the
man program would be
sh# man name
the man page name in section. The corresponding command with the man program would
sh# man section name
name if name is not an existing file search for the man page name in the lowest section
sh# man name
Even this curious construct known from the various man programs is handled. For
sh# groffer 7 groff
was modelled according to
sh# man 7 groff
retrieves the man page named groff in section 7. Only a few standard section names
are accepted, being actually the number sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9, and
the lower case letters `o' and `n'.
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.
Man Page Searching
The groffer program provides a search facility for system manual pages (man pages). All
long options, all environment variables, and most of the functionality of the GNU man(1)
program were implemented.
Preformatted man pages (cat pages) are intentionally excluded from the search because
groffer is a roff program that wants to format by its own, not spit out stuff that was di-
gested previously by someone else. With the excellent performance of the actual comput-
ers, the preformatted man pages aren't necessary any longer. Due to their inflexible na-
ture, they tend to provoke some trouble with changing line lengths and different environ-
ments in networks.
The algorithm for retrieving man pages uses five search methods. They are successively
tried until a method works.
o The search path can be manually specified by using the option --manpath. An empty argu-
ment disables the man page searching. This overwrites the other methods.
o If this is not available the environment variable $MANPATH is searched.
o If this is empty, the program tries to read it from the environment variable $MANOPT.
o If this does not work, the manpath(1) program for determining a path of man directories
o If this does not work a reasonable default path is searched for man pages.
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 ex-
ample, 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 prece-
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
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 specif-
ic directories is used.
The search can further be restricted by limiting it to certain sections. A single section
can be specified within a filespec, 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
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 decom-
pressed 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 builitin `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.
If this variable is set this indicates that the X window system is running. Test-
ing 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 X terminal. For example, depending on your sys-
tem, groffer can be started on the second monitor by the command
sh# DISPLAY=:0.1 groffer what.ever&
$LANG If one of these variables is set (in the above sequence), its content is interpret-
ed as the locale, the language to be used, especially when retrieving 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 C and 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.
$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) program
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
If set to a non-empty value this chooses the POSIX mode for option processing, that
means that option processing will be finished as soon as a non-option argument is
found. Usually, you do not want to set this environment variable.
The groffer program internally calls groff, so all environment variables documented in
groff(1) are internally used within groffer as well; see there for details. The following
variables have 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.
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.
Restrict the search for man pages to files having this extension. This is overrid-
den by option --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 op-
tions specified in this variable overwrite the values of the other environment
variables taht 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 --manpath.
If this is a colon separated list of section names, the search for man pages is re-
stricted to those manual sections in that order. This is overridden by option
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
--systems; see there for details.
The environment variable $MANROFFSEQ is ignored by groffer because the necessary pre-
processors are determined automatically.
The groffer program can be preconfigured by two configuration files. Both of them are
shell scripts that are called at the beginning of groffer using the `. filename' syntax.
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 en-
able overriding by the user.
It makes sense to use these configuration files for the following tasks:
o Preset environment variables recognized by groffer; preferably a variable should only be
set when it is unset in order not to override a user-provided value.
o Preset command line options by prepending them to $GROFFER_OPT; prepending should be
preferred to appending and setting in order not to delete the environment variable pro-
vided by the
o Write functions for calling viewer programs in a special way and feed them into the
--*-viewer options. Note that the name of such a function must coincide with some ex-
isting program in the system path $PATH in order to be recognized by groffer.
As an example, consider the following configuration file.
if test "$DISPLAY" = ""; then
/usr/local/bin/gxditview --fg DarkBlue "$@";
This has the following effects:
o allows to start groffer in a graphical mode even from a text terminal;
o all graphical modes use a resolution of 100 dpi where applicable;
o the gxditview(1) program is told to use DarkBlue as the text color. These configura-
tions can be overridden by command line options and by environment variable
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 capabil-
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 a default graphical viewer when in X window, or
the less(1) pager program when not in X.
sh# groffer groff.7 groff 'troff(1)' man:roff
The arguments that are not existing files are looked-up as the following man pages:
groff (in section 7), groff (automatic search, should be found in 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 spe-
cial 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=netscape ls
Retrieve the German man page for the ls program (or the English one if there is a
German version), decompress it, format it into the html format and view the result
in the default web browser netscape . The option --man guarantees that the
man page is retrieved, even when a local file ls exists in the actual directory.
sh# groffer -Q 'man:roff(7)'
Print the unformatted content of the man page called roff in section 7 on standard
sh# groffer -Z -mfoo
Decompress the standard input, switch to groff mode, format the input with groff
using the macro package foo, but do not postprocess the result, thus producing the
sh# echo '\f[CB]WOW!' |
> groffer --x --bg red --fg yellow --geometry 200x100
Display WOW! in a small window in constant-width bold font, using color yellow on
The groffer shell script is compatible to both POSIX and GNU. POSIX compatibility refers
to IEEE P1003.2/D11.2 of September 1991, a very early version of this standard. The
script uses only a quite restricted set of shell language elements and shell builtins,
common to all POSIX versions; the only external program used is `sed', again only the most
basic POSIX features of `sed' are used. 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 POSIX
shell: ash(1), bash(1), ksh(1), and POSIX sh(1), and others. Free POSIX compatible shells
and shell utilities for most operating systems are available at the GNU software archive
The best performance was obtained with the ash shell; so groffer tries to run under ash
whenever possible. The procedure to determine the shell to run groffer was programmed to
be as follows:
o the argument of the command line option --shell; if not set
o the argument of the option --shell in the environment variable $GROFF_OPT; if not set
o try ash; if not available
o continue with the shell under which the script was started in the first place.
Details on the options and environment variables available in groff; all of them
can be used with groffer.
Internally, groffer tries to guess the groff command line options from the input
using this program.
Documentation on the groff intermediate output (ditroff output).
Viewers for groffer's dvi 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 x mode.
The decompression programs supported by 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.
Copyright (C) 2001, 2002 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
This document is distributed under the terms of the FDL (GNU Free Documentation License)
version 1.1 or later. You should have received a copy of the FDL on your system, it is
also available on-line at the GNU copyleft site <http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html>.
This document is part of groff, the GNU roff distribution. It was written by Bernd Warken
Groff Version 1.18.1 30 September 2002 GROFFER(1)