Are UNIX manpages obsolete?

Subject: Are UNIX manpages obsolete?
From: Stuart Burnfield <slb -at- FS -dot- COM -dot- AU>
Date: Tue, 1 Oct 1996 23:26:57 +0800

Sandy Demi said:
> . . .our company has traditionally provided UNIX-style manpages for the
> C and C++ APIs for the product. Now that there are alternative ways
> to provide online documentation (we also provide all our documentation
> online in HTML), we're wondering if UNIX manpages are still necessary.

In my experience, UNIX programmers and administrators like and expect
documentation in man page format, so I wouldn't be cutting out man
pages without first checking with my customers.

I use a nice GUI man page viewer called TkMan. It features hyperlinks
and keyword searching, and suggests how well the man page format could
work within online help.

I suggest you keep your man pages and have links to them from your
online help. This provides the cross-command and task-oriented info,
which is where man pages are usually weak.

Another option is to provide the same information in both formats.
Normally single-sourcing like this is fool's gold, but man pages are
usually pretty chunky and I think you could map the text to online
help format without too much trouble. You should get hold of a command
called rman (RosettaMan) if you're interested in this. It converts
formatted man pages to you-name-it, including HTML.

Stuart Burnfield (slb -at- fs -dot- com -dot- au) Voice: +61 9 328 8288
Functional Software Pty Ltd Fax: +61 9 328 8616

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