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groffstudio: A minimalist alternative to LaTeX and TeXstudio.

Preliminary remarks

As most of you already know, I am a strong advocate of simple solutions over complex tools that try to do everything. In this respect, it is only logical that in the course of my computer use I have also dealt with groff.


groff - an amazingly good piece of software from the GNU project - is a free implementation of troff, which in turn is a successor to the RUNOFF tool first released in 1964 for the CTSS operating system. So unlike LaTeX, it is already very mature.

Advantages of groff

Unlike LaTeX, which (with a complete installation) takes up several gigabytes of disk space, groff is a rather compact software: a complete package, including all libraries, is less than ten megabytes. (I would like to mention here that there are now new alternative versions of RUNOFF, such as neatroff, but this is not relevant here).

As for LaTeX, there are also macro packages for groff, which is mainly used for creating man pages, for writing letters, CVs and so on. Especially mom stands out here, which is optimised for writing books. On the website of mom - macro packages in groff always begin with an "m", since you call them up via groff -m... - you can also see the pleasantly compact and quite readable syntax of groff, which I personally consider at least equal to LaTeX.

Disadvantages of groff

Until recently, there were countless graphical interfaces for LaTeX, such as AuCTeX and TeXstudio, but none for groff. Because I was bored the other day, I changed that.


groffstudio is a simple tool for Windows and unix-like systems developed in Free Pascal and LCL - i.e. with the free IDE Lazarus - with the purpose of making the use of groff as user-friendly as possible. It requires a working installation of groff. (Since this is somewhat more difficult under Windows, the Windows version includes a function to download groff).

A preview function does not (yet?) exist, but simply compiling a groff document into PostScript or PDF is already possible without any problems. A screenshot of the current version of groffstudio is attached to this article.


Help wanted

I wrote groffstudio in about four days. Naturally, my own free time and access to as many platforms as possible are limited. However, I was generous 😏 enough to make groffstudio free software under the terms of the CDDL-1.1 license.

So if you want to help me improve the software, please get in touch with me and I'll probably grant you commit access to the repository.


I sadly still cannot answer here on DEV because the staff hates me 😉, but feel free to ping me on Twitter or send patches or something. Thank you for reading!

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