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PolyglotMan, rman - reverse compile man pages from formatted form to
a number of source formats
rman [ options ] [ file ]
instructions can be found at http://polyglotman.sourceforge.net/rman.html
PolyglotMan takes man pages from most of the popular flavors of UNIX
and transforms them into any of a number of text source formats. PolyglotMan
was formerly known as RosettaMan. The name of the binary is still called
rman , for scripts that depend on that name; mnemonically, just think
"reverse man". Previously PolyglotMan required pages to be formatted by
nroff prior to its processing. With version 3.0, it prefers [tn]roff source
and usually produces results that are better yet. And source processing
is the only way to translate tables. Source format translation is not as
mature as formatted, however, so try formatted translation as a backup.
In parsing [tn]roff source, one could implement an arbitrarily large
subset of [tn]roff, which I did not and will not do, so the results can
be off. I did implement a significant subset of those use in man pages,
however, including tbl (but not eqn), if tests, and general macro definitions,
so usually the results look great. If they don't, format the page with nroff
before sending it to PolyglotMan. If PolyglotMan doesn't recognize a key
macro used by a large class of pages, however, e-mail me the source and
a uuencoded nroff-formatted page and I'll see what I can do. When running
PolyglotMan with man page source that includes or redirects to other [tn]roff
source using the .so (source or inclusion) macro, you should be in the
parent directory of the page, since pages are written with this assumption.
For example, if you are translating /usr/man/man1/ls.1, first cd into /usr/man.
PolyglotMan accepts man pages from: SunOS, Sun Solaris, Hewlett-Packard
HP-UX, AT&T System V, OSF/1 aka Digital UNIX, DEC Ultrix, SGI IRIX, Linux,
FreeBSD, SCO. Source processing works for: SunOS, Sun Solaris, Hewlett-Packard
HP-UX, AT&T System V, OSF/1 aka Digital UNIX, DEC Ultrix. It can produce
printable ASCII-only (control characters stripped), section headers-only,
Tk, TkMan, [tn]roff (traditional man page source), SGML, HTML, MIME,
LaTeX, LaTeX2e, RTF, Perl 5 POD. A modular architecture permits easy addition
of additional output formats.
The latest version of PolyglotMan is available
The following options
should not be used with any others and exit PolyglotMan without processing
- Show list of command line options and exit.
- Show version number and exit.
You should specify the filter first, as
this sets a number of parameters, and then specify other options.
Set the output
filter. Defaults to ASCII.
PolyglotMan tries to automatically determine
whether its input is source or formatted; use this option to declare source
PolyglotMan tries to automatically determine whether
its input is source or formatted; use this option to declare formatted
In HTML mode this sets the <TITLE> of the man
pages, given the same parameters as -r .
In HTML and SGML modes this sets the URL form by which to retrieve other
man pages. The string can use two supplied parameters: the man page name
and its section. (See the Examples section.) If the string is null (as if
set from a shell by "-r ''"), `-' or `off', then man page references will not
be HREFs, just set in italics. If your printf supports XPG3 positions specifier,
this can be quite flexible.
-V|--volumes <colon-separated list>
Set the list
of valid volumes to check against when looking for cross-references to
other man pages. Defaults to 1:2:3:4:5:6:7:8:9:o:l:n:p (volume names can
be multicharacter). If an non-whitespace string in the page is immediately
followed by a left parenthesis, then one of the valid volumes, and ends
with optional other characters and then a right parenthesis--then that string
is reported as a reference to another manual page. If this -V string starts
with an equals sign, then no optional characters are allowed between
the match to the list of valids and the right parenthesis. (This option
is needed for SCO UNIX.)
The following options apply only when formatted
pages are given as input. They do not apply or are always handled correctly
with the source.
Some flavors of
UNIX ship man page without [tn]roff source, making one's laser printer
little more than a laser-powered daisy wheel. This filer tries to intuit
the original [tn]roff directives, which can then be recompiled by [tn]roff.
TkMan, a hypertext man page browser, uses PolyglotMan to show man
pages without the (usually) useless headers and footers on each pages.
It also collects section and (optionally) subsection heads for direct
access from a pulldown menu. TkMan and Tcl/Tk, the toolkit in which it's
written, are available via anonymous ftp from ftp://ftp.smli.com/pub/tcl/
This option outputs the text in a series of Tcl lists consisting of
text-tags pairs, where tag names roughly correspond to HTML. This output
can be inserted into a Tk text widget by doing an eval <textwidget> insert
end <text> . This format should be relatively easily parsible by other programs
that want both the text and the tags. Also see ASCII.
on a line printer, man pages try to produce special text effects by overstriking
characters with themselves (to produce bold) and underscores (underlining).
Other text processing software, such as text editors, searchers, and indexers,
must counteract this. The ASCII filter strips away this formatting. Piping
nroff output through col -b also strips away this formatting, but it
leaves behind unsightly page headers and footers. Also see Tk.
section and (optionally) subsection titles. This might be useful for another
program that processes man pages.
With a simple extention to an HTTP
server for Mosaic or other World Wide Web browser, PolyglotMan can produce
high quality HTML on the fly. Several such extensions and pointers to several
others are included in PolyglotMan 's contrib directory.
This is appoaching
the Docbook DTD, but I'm hoping that someone that someone with a real interest
in this will polish the tags generated. Try it to see how close the tags
MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) as defined by
RFC 1563, good for consumption by MIME-aware e-mailers or as Emacs (>=19.29)
Use output on Mac or
NeXT or whatever. Maybe take random man pages and integrate with NeXT's
documentation system better. Maybe NeXT has own man page macros that do
To produce PostScript, use groff or psroff
. To produce FrameMaker MIF, use FrameMaker's builtin filter. In both cases
you need [tn]roff source, so if you only have a formatted version of
the manual page, use PolyglotMan 's roff filter first.
the formatted man page named ls.1 back into [tn]roff source form:
- Try to recognize subsection titles in addition
to section titles. This can cause problems on some UNIX flavors.
- Indicate manual pages don't have page breaks, so don't look for footers
and headers around them. (Older nroff -man macros always put in page breaks,
but lately some vendors have realized that printout are made through troff,
whereas nroff -man is used to format pages for reading on screen, and so
have eliminated page breaks.) PolyglotMan usually gets this right even
without this flag.
- Keep headers and footers, as a canonical report
at the end of the page. changeleft Move changebars, such as those found
in the Tcl/Tk manual pages, to the left. --> notaggressive Disable aggressive
man page parsing. Aggressive manual, which is on by default, page parsing
elides headers and footers, identifies sections and more. -->
- -n|--name name
- Set name of man page (used in roff format). If the filename is given in
the form " name . section ", the name and section are automatically determined.
If the page is being parsed from [tn]roff source and it has a .TH line,
this information is extracted from that line.
- paragraph mode
toggle. The filter determines whether lines should be linebroken as they
were by nroff, or whether lines should be flowed together into paragraphs.
Mainly for internal use.
- -s|section #
- Set volume (aka section) number of
man page (used in roff format). tables Turn on aggressive table parsing.
- -t|--tabstops #
- For those macros sets that use tabs in place of spaces where
possible in order to reduce the number of characters used, set tabstops
every # columns. Defaults to 8.
-f roff /usr/local/man/cat1/ls.1 > /usr/local/man/man1/ls.1
Long man pages are often compressed to conserve space (compression is
especially effective on formatted man pages as many of the characters
are spaces). As it is a long man page, it probably has subsections, which
we try to separate out (some macro sets don't distinguish subsections well
enough for PolyglotMan to detect them). Let's convert this to LaTeX format:
pcat /usr/catman/a_man/cat1/automount.z | rman -b -n automount -s 1 -f latex
Alternatively, man 1 automount | rman -b -n automount -s 1 -f latex > automount.man
For HTML/Mosaic users, PolyglotMan can, without modification of the source
code, produce HTML links that point to other HTML man pages either pregenerated
or generated on the fly. First let's assume pregenerated HTML versions of
man pages stored in /usr/man/html . Generate these one-by-one with the following
rman -f html -r 'http:/usr/man/html/%s.%s.html'
/usr/man/cat1/ls.1 > /usr/man/html/ls.1.html
If you've extended your HTML client to generate HTML on the fly you should
use something like:
PolyglotMan is not perfect
in all cases, but it usually does a good job, and in any case reduces
the problem of converting man pages to light editing.
rman -f html -r 'http:~/bin/man2html?%s:%s'
when generating HTML.
Tables in formatted
pages, especially H-P's, aren't handled very well. Be sure to pass in source
for the page to recognize tables.
The man pager woman applies its own
idea of formatting for man pages, which can confuse PolyglotMan . Bypass
woman by passing the formatted manual page text directly into PolyglotMan
The [tn]roff output format uses fB to turn on boldface. If your macro
set requires .B, you'll have to a postprocess the PolyglotMan output.
depending on your
flavor of UNIX
by Thomas A. Phelps ( phelps@ACM.org )
developed at the
University of California, Berkeley
Computer Science Division
Manual page last updated on $Date: 2005/07/15
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