WoMan: Browse Unix Manual Pages “W.O. (without) Man”
As distributed with Emacs 25.2. Francis J. Wright School of Mathematical Sciences Queen Mary and Westfield College (University of London) Mile End Road, London E1 4NS, UK
This file documents WoMan: A program to browse Unix manual pages “W.O. (without) man”.
Copyright © 2001–2017 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with the Front-Cover Texts being “A GNU Manual,” and with the Back-Cover Texts as in (a) below. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled “GNU Free Documentation License.”
(a) The FSF's Back-Cover Text is: “You have the freedom to copy and modify this GNU manual.”
|Finding||Finding and Formatting Man Pages|
|Browsing||Browsing Man Pages|
|Log||The *WoMan-Log* Buffer|
|GNU Free Documentation License||The license for this documentation.|
|Command Index||Command Index|
|Variable Index||Variable Index|
|Keystroke Index||Keystroke Index|
|Concept Index||Concept Index|
This version of WoMan should run with GNU Emacs 20.3 or later on any platform. It has not been tested, and may not run, with any other version of Emacs. It was developed primarily on various versions of Microsoft Windows, but has also been tested on MS-DOS, and various versions of UNIX and GNU/Linux.
WoMan is distributed with GNU Emacs.
WoMan implements a subset of the formatting performed by the Emacs
manual-entry) command to format a Unix-style
manual page (usually abbreviated to man page) for display,
but without calling any external programs. It is intended to emulate
the whole of the
roff -man macro package, plus those
requests (see Background) that are most commonly used
in man pages. However, the emulation is modified to include the
reformatting done by the Emacs
man command. No hyphenation is
- Much more direct, does not require any external programs. Supports
completion on man page names.
- Not a complete emulation. Currently no support for
tbl. Slightly slower for large man pages (but usually faster for small- and medium-size pages).
This browser works quite well on simple well-written man files. It
works less well on idiosyncratic files that “break the rules” or use
the more obscure
roff requests directly. Current test results
are available in the file
WoMan supports the use of compressed man files via
auto-compression-mode by turning it on if necessary. But you may
need to adjust the user option
See Interface Options.
Brief help on the WoMan interactive commands and user options, all of
which begin with the prefix
woman- (or occasionally
WoMan-), is available most easily by loading WoMan and then
either running the command
woman-mini-help or selecting the WoMan
menu option ‘Mini Help’.
Guidance on reporting bugs is given below. See Reporting Bugs.
WoMan is a browser for traditional Unix-style manual page documentation.
Each such document is conventionally referred to as a manual page,
or man page for short, even though some are very much longer than
one page. A man page is a document written using the Unix “man”
macros, which are themselves written in the nroff/troff text processing
troff are text processors
originally written for the UNIX operating system by Joseph F. Ossanna at
Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill, New Jersey, USA. They are closely
related, and except in the few cases where the distinction between them
is important I will refer to them both ambiguously as
roff markup consists of requests and escape
sequences. A request occupies a complete line and begins with either a
period or an apostrophe. An escape sequence is embedded
within the input text and begins (by default) with a backslash. The
original man macro package defines 20 new
implemented as macros, which were considered to be sufficient for
writing man pages. But whilst in principle man pages use only the man
macros, in practice a significant number use many other
The distinction between
nroff is that
troff was designed to drive a phototypesetter whereas
nroff was designed to produce essentially ASCII output for a
character-based device similar to a teletypewriter (usually abbreviated
to “teletype” or “tty”). Hence,
troff supports much finer
control over output positioning than does
nroff and can be seen
as a forerunner of TeX. Traditionally, man pages are either
troff for typesetting or by
printing on a character printer or displaying on a screen. Of course,
over the last 25 years or so, the distinction between typeset output on
paper and characters on a screen has become blurred by the fact that
most screens now support bit-mapped displays, so that any information
that can be printed can also be rendered on screen, the only difference
being the resolution.
Nevertheless, Unix-style manual page documentation is still normally
browsed on screen by running a program called
man. This program
looks in a predefined set of directories for the man page matching a
specified topic, then either formats the source file by running
nroff or recovers a pre-formatted file, and displays it via a
pager such as
nroff normally formats for a printer,
so it paginates the output, numbers the pages, etc., most of which is
irrelevant when the document is browsed as a continuous scrollable
document on screen. The only concession to on-screen browsing normally
implemented by the
man program is to squeeze consecutive blank
lines into a single blank line.
For some time, Emacs has offered an improved interface for browsing man
pages in the form of the Emacs
command, see man.
This command runs
man as described above, perhaps in
the background, and then post-processes the output to remove much of the
nroff pagination such as page headers and footers, and places the
result into an Emacs buffer. It puts this buffer into a special major
mode, which is tailored for man page browsing, and provides a number of
useful navigation commands, support for following references, etc. It
provides some support for special display faces (fonts), but no special
menu or mouse support. The Emacs man package appears to have been
developed over about 10 years, from the late 1980s to the late 1990s.
There is considerable inefficiency in having
nroff paginate a
document and then removing most of the pagination!
WoMan is an Emacs Lisp library that provides an emulation of the
functionality of the Emacs
man command, the main difference being
that WoMan does not use any external programs. The only situation in
which WoMan might use an external program is when the source file is
compressed, when WoMan will use the standard Emacs automatic
decompression facility, which does call an external program.
I began developing WoMan in the Spring of 1997 and the first version was
released in May 1997. The original motivation for WoMan was the fact
that many GNU and Unix programs are ported to other platforms and come
with Unix-style manual page documentation. This may be difficult to
read because ports of the Unix-style
man program can be a little
awkward to set up. I decided that it should not be too hard to emulate
man macros directly, without treating them as macros and
largely ignoring the underlying
roff requests, given the text
processing capabilities of Emacs. This proved to be essentially true,
and it did not take a great deal of work to be able to format simple man
One problem arose with the significant number of man pages that use
roff requests in addition to the
man macros, and since
releasing the first version of WoMan I have been continually extending
it to support more
roff requests. WoMan can now format a
significant proportion of the man pages that I have tested, either well
or at least readably. However, I have added capabilities partly by
making additional passes through the document, a design that is
fundamentally flawed. This can only be solved by a major re-design of
WoMan to handle the major formatting within a single recursive pass,
rather than the present multiple passes without any significant
recursion. There are some
roff requests that cannot be handled
satisfactorily within the present design. Some of these are currently
handled by kludges that “usually more or less work.”
The principle advantage of WoMan is that it does not require
and indeed the name WoMan is a contraction of “without man.” But it
has other advantages. It does not paginate the document, so it does not
need to un-paginate it again, thereby saving time. It could take full
advantage of the display capabilities available to it, and I hope to
develop WoMan to take advantage of developments in Emacs itself. At
present, WoMan uses several display faces to support bold and italic
text, to indicate other fonts, etc. The default faces are also
colored, but the choice of faces is customizable. WoMan provides menu
support for navigation and mouse support for following references, in
addition to the navigation facilities provided by
WoMan has (this) texinfo documentation!
WoMan does not replace
man, although it does use a number
of the facilities implemented in the Emacs
man library. WoMan
and man can happily co-exist, which is very useful for comparison and
3 Finding and Formatting Man Pages
- a topic interface similar to that provided by the standard Emacs
- a family of filename interfaces analogous to the standard Emacs
- an automatic interface that detects the file type from its contents. (This is currently neither well tested, well supported nor recommended!)
The topic and filename interfaces support completion in the usual way.
The topic interface is generally the most convenient for regular use,
although it may require some special setup, especially if your machine
does not already have a conventional
man installation (which
WoMan tries to detect).
The simplest filename interface command
always be used with no setup at all (provided WoMan is installed and
loaded or set up to autoload).
The automatic interface always requires special setup.
Case-Dependence of Filenames
By default, WoMan ignores case in file pathnames only when it seems
appropriate. Microsoft Windows users who want complete case
independence should set the special NTEmacs variable
t and use all lower case when
setting WoMan file paths.
3.1 Topic Interface
The topic interface is accessed principally via the command
woman. The same command can be accessed via the menu item
‘Help->Manuals->Read Man Page (WoMan)...’ once WoMan has been
loaded. The command reads a manual topic in the minibuffer, which can
be the basename of a man file anywhere in the man file
structure. The “basename” in this context means the filename
without any directory component and without any extension or suffix
components that relate to the file type. So, for example, if there is
a compressed source file in Chapter 5 of the UNIX Programmer's Manual
with the full pathname /usr/local/man/man5/man.conf.5.gz then
the topic is
man.conf. Provided WoMan is configured correctly,
this topic will appear among the completions offered by
If more than one file has the same topic name then WoMan will prompt
for which file to format. Completion of topics is case insensitive.
woman has to know where to look for man files and there
are two customizable user options that store this information:
woman-path. See Interface Options. If
woman-manpath is not set explicitly then
WoMan tries to pick up the information that would be used by the
man command, as follows. If the environment variable
MANPATH is set, which seems to be the standard mechanism under
UNIX, then WoMan parses that. Otherwise, if WoMan can find a
configuration file named (by default) man.conf (or something very
similar), which seems to be the standard mechanism under GNU/Linux, then
it parses that. To be precise, “something very similar” means
starting with ‘man’ and ending with ‘.conf’ and possibly more
lowercase letters, e.g., manual.configuration.
The search path and/or precise full path name for this file are set by
the value of the customizable user option
If all else fails, WoMan uses a plausible default man search path.
If the above default configuration does not work correctly for any
reason then simply customize the value of
access man files that are not in a conventional man file hierarchy,
customize the value of
woman-path to include the directories
containing the files. In this way,
woman can access manual files
anywhere in the entire file system.
There are two differences between
woman-path. Firstly, the elements of
be directories that contain directories of man files, whereas the
woman-path must be directories that contain man files
directly. Secondly, the last directory component of each element
woman-path is treated as a regular (Emacs) match expression
rather than a fixed name, which allows collections of related
directories to be specified succinctly. Also, elements of
woman-manpath can be conses, indicating a mapping from
‘PATH’ environment variable components to man directory
For topic completion to work, WoMan must build a list of all the manual
files that it can access, which can be very slow, especially if a
network is involved. For this reason, it caches various amounts of
information, after which retrieving it from the cache is very fast. If
the cache ever gets out of synchronism with reality, running the
woman command with a prefix argument (e.g., C-u M-x woman)
will force it to rebuild its cache. This is necessary only if the names
or locations of any man files change; it is not necessary if only their
contents change. It would always be necessary if such a change occurred
whilst Emacs were running and after WoMan has been loaded. It may be
necessary if such a change occurs between Emacs sessions and persistent
caching is used, although WoMan can detect some changes that invalidate
its cache and rebuild it automatically.
Customize the variable
woman-cache-filename to save the cache
between Emacs sessions. This is recommended only if the
command is too slow the first time it is run in an Emacs session, while
it builds its cache in main memory, which may be very
slow. See The WoMan Topic Cache, for further details.
3.1.1 The WoMan Topic Cache
The amount of information that WoMan caches (in main memory and,
optionally, saved to disc) is controlled by the user option
woman-cache-level. There is a trade-off between the speed with
which WoMan can find a file and the size of the cache, and the default
setting gives a reasonable compromise.
woman command always performs a certain amount of caching in
main memory, but it can also write its cache to the filestore as a
persistent cache under control of the user option
woman-cache-filename. If persistent caching is turned on then
WoMan re-loads its internal cache from the cache file almost
instantaneously, so that there is never any perceptible start-up delay
except when WoMan rebuilds its cache. Persistent caching is
currently turned off by default. This is because users with persistent
caching turned on may overlook the need to force WoMan to rebuild its
cache the first time they run it after they have installed new man
files; with persistent caching turned off, WoMan automatically rebuilds
its cache every time it is run in a new Emacs session.
A prefix argument always causes the
woman command (only) to
rebuild its topic cache, and to re-save it to
woman-cache-filename if this variable has a non-
nil value. This
is necessary if the names of any of the directories or files in
the paths specified by
If WoMan user options that affect the cache are changed then WoMan will
automatically update its cache file on disc (if one is in use) the next
time it is run in a new Emacs session.
3.1.2 Using the "Word at Point" as a Topic Suggestion
By default, the
woman command uses the word nearest to point in
the current buffer as a suggestion for the topic to look up, if it
exists as a valid topic. The topic can be confirmed or edited in the
You can also bind the variable
to a non-
nil value (using
let), in which case
woman will can use the suggested topic without confirmation if
possible. This may be useful to provide special private key bindings,
e.g., this key binding for C-c w runs WoMan on the topic at
point without seeking confirmation:
(global-set-key "\C-cw" (lambda () (interactive) (let ((woman-use-topic-at-point t)) (woman))))
3.2 Filename Interface
The filename interface is accessed principally via the extended command
woman-find-file, which is available without any configuration at
all (provided WoMan is installed and loaded or set up to autoload).
This command can be used to browse any accessible man file, regardless
of its filename or location. If the file is compressed then automatic
file decompression must already be turned on (e.g., see the
‘Help->Options’ submenu)—it is turned on automatically only by
woman topic interface.
Once WoMan is loaded (or if specially set up), various additional
commands in this family are available. In a dired buffer, the command
woman-dired-find-file allows the file on the same line as point
to be formatted and browsed by WoMan. It is bound to the key W in
the dired mode map and added to the dired major mode menu. It may also
be bound to w, unless this key is bound by another library, which
it is by
dired-x, for example. Because it is quite likely that
other libraries will extend the capabilities of such a commonly used
mode as dired, the precise key bindings added by WoMan to the dired mode
map are controlled by the user option
When a tar (Tape ARchive) file is visited in Emacs, it is opened in tar
mode, which parses the tar file and shows a dired-like view of its
contents. The WoMan command
woman-tar-extract-file allows the
file on the same line as point to be formatted and browsed by WoMan. It
is bound to the key w in the tar mode map and added to the tar
major mode menu.
woman-reformat-last-file, which is bound to the key
R in WoMan mode and available on the major mode menu, reformats
the last file formatted by WoMan. This may occasionally be useful if
formatting parameters, such as the fill column, are changed, or perhaps
if the buffer is somehow corrupted.
3.3 Automatic Interface
Emacs provides an interface to detect automatically the format of a file and decode it when it is visited. It is used primarily by the facilities for editing rich (i.e., formatted) text, as a way to store formatting information transparently as ASCII markup. WoMan can in principle use this interface, but it must be configured explicitly.
This use of WoMan does not seem to be particularly advantageous, so it
is not really supported. It originated during early experiments on how
best to implement WoMan, before I implemented the current topic
interface, and I subsequently stopped using it. I might revive it as a
mechanism for storing pre-formatted WoMan files, somewhat analogous to
the standard Unix
catman facility. In the meantime, it exists
for anyone who wants to experiment with it. Once it is set up it is
simply a question of visiting the file and there is no WoMan-specific
To use it, put something like this in your .emacs file. [The
set-visited-file-name is to avoid font-locking triggered
by automatic major mode selection.]
(autoload 'woman-decode-region "woman") (add-to-list 'format-alist '(man "Unix man-page source format" "\\.\\(TH\\|ig\\) " woman-decode-region nil nil (lambda (arg) set-visited-file-name (file-name-sans-extension buffer-file-name))))
4 Browsing Man Pages
Once a man page has been found and formatted, WoMan provides a browsing
interface that is essentially the same as that provided by the standard
man command (and much of the code is inherited from the
man library, which WoMan currently requires). Many WoMan
facilities can be accessed from the WoMan major mode menu as well as via
key bindings, etc.
WoMan does not produce any page breaks or page numbers, and in fact does
not paginate the man page at all, since this is not appropriate for
continuous online browsing. It produces a document header line that is
constructed from the standard man page header and footer. Apart from
that, the appearance of the formatted man page should be almost
identical to what would be produced by
man, with consecutive
blank lines squeezed to a single blank line.
4.1 Fonts and Faces
Fonts used by
roff are handled by WoMan as faces, the details of
which are customizable. See Faces. WoMan supports both the
italic and bold fonts normally used in man pages, together with a single
face to represent all unknown fonts (which are occasionally used in
“non-standard” man pages, usually to represent a “typewriter” font)
and a face to indicate additional symbols introduced by WoMan. This
currently means the characters ^ and _ used to indicate super- and
sub-scripts, which are not displayed well by WoMan.
Man (and hence WoMan) mode can be thought of as a superset of view mode.
The buffer cannot be edited, so keys that would normally self-insert are
used for navigation. The WoMan key bindings are a minor modification of
man key bindings.
- Scroll the man page up the window (
- Scroll the man page down the window (
- Move point to the Nth next section—default 1 (
- Move point to Nth previous section—default 1
- Move point to the specified section (
- Move point to the “SEE ALSO” section
Man-goto-see-also-section). Actually the section moved to is described by
4.3 Following References
Man pages usually contain a “SEE ALSO” section containing references to other man pages. If these man pages are installed then WoMan can easily be directed to follow the reference, i.e., to find and format the man page. When the mouse is passed over a correctly formatted reference it is highlighted, in which case clicking the middle button mouse-2 will cause WoMan to follow the reference. Alternatively, when point is over such a reference the key <RET> will follow the reference.
Any word in the buffer can be used as a reference by clicking mouse-2 over it provided the Meta key is also used (although in general such a “reference” will not lead to a man page). Alternatively, the key r allows completion to be used to select a reference to follow, based on the word at point as default.
- Run WoMan with word under mouse as topic (
woman-mouse-2). The word must be mouse-highlighted unless
woman-mouse-2is used with the Meta key.
- Get the man page for the topic under (or nearest to) point
- Get one of the man pages referred to in the “SEE ALSO” section
Man-follow-manual-reference). Specify which reference to use; default is based on word at point.
4.4 Changing the Current Man Page
The man page currently being browsed by WoMan can be changed in several
ways. The command
woman can be invoked to format another man
page, or the current WoMan buffer can be buried or killed. WoMan
maintains a ring of formatted man pages, and it is possible to move
forwards and backwards in this ring by moving to the next or previous
man page. It is sometimes useful to reformat the current page, for
example after the right margin (the wrap column) or some other
formatting parameter has been changed.
Buffers formatted by Man and WoMan are completely unrelated, even though some of the commands to manipulate them are superficially the same (and share code).
- Run the command
manto get a Un*x manual page and put it in a buffer. This command is the top-level command in the man package. It runs a Un*x command to retrieve and clean a man page in the background and places the results in a Man mode (man page browsing) buffer. If a man buffer already exists for this man page, it will display immediately. This works exactly the same if WoMan is loaded, except that the formatting time is displayed in the mini-buffer.
- Run the command
womanexactly as if the extended command or menu item had been used.
- Bury the buffer containing the current man page (
Man-quit), i.e., move it to the bottom of the buffer stack.
- Kill the buffer containing the current man page (
Man-kill), i.e., delete it completely so that it can be retrieved only by formatting the page again.
- Find the previous WoMan buffer (
- Find the next WoMan buffer (
- Call WoMan to reformat the last man page formatted by WoMan
woman-reformat-last-file), e.g., after changing the fill column.
4.5 Convenience Key Bindings
- Begin a negative numeric argument for the next command
- 0 .. 9
- Part of the numeric argument for the next command
- Move point to the beginning of the buffer; leave mark at previous
- Move point to the end of the buffer; leave mark at previous position
- Display documentation of current major mode and minor modes
describe-mode). The major mode description comes first, followed by the minor modes, each on a separate page.
4.6 Imenu Support; Contents Menu
The WoMan menu provides an option to make a contents menu for the
current man page (using
imenu). Alternatively, if you customize
t then WoMan will do it
automatically for every man page. The menu title is set by the option
woman-imenu-title, which is “CONTENTS” by default. The menu
shows manual sections and subsections by default, but you can change
this by customizing
WoMan is configured not to replace spaces in an imenu *Completion* buffer. For further documentation on the use of imenu, such as menu sorting, see the source file imenu.el, which is distributed with GNU Emacs.
All WoMan user options are customizable, and it is recommended to
change them only via the standard Emacs customization facilities.
WoMan defines a top-level customization group called
under the parent group
Help. It can be accessed either via the
standard Emacs facilities, e.g., via the ‘Help->Customize’
submenu, or via the WoMan major mode menu.
The top-level WoMan group contains only a few general options and three
subgroups. The hooks are provided only for special purposes that, for
example, require code to be executed, and should be changed only via
Customization or the function
customization should be possible via existing user options.
- A boolean value that defaults to
nil. If non-
nilthen show the *WoMan-Log* buffer if appropriate, i.e., if any warning messages are written to it. See The *WoMan-Log* Buffer.
- A hook run immediately before formatting a buffer. It might, for
example, be used for face customization. See Faces,
- A hook run immediately after formatting a buffer. It might, for
example, be used for installing a dynamic menu using
imenu. (However. in this case it is better to use the built-in WoMan
imenusupport. See Imenu Support; Contents Menu.)
- These options control the process of locating the appropriate file to
browse, and the appearance of the browsing interface.
- These options control the layout that WoMan uses to format the man page.
- These options control the display faces that WoMan uses to format the man page.
5.1 Interface Options
- A list of strings representing directories to search and/or files to try
for a man configuration file. The default is
[for GNU/Linux and Cygwin respectively.] A trailing separator (/ for UNIX etc.) on directories is optional and the filename matched if a directory is specified is the first to match the regexp
man.*\.conf. If the environment variable
MANPATHis not set but a configuration file is found then it is parsed instead (or as well) to provide a default value for
- A list of strings representing directory trees to search for Unix
manual files. Each element should be the name of a directory that
contains subdirectories of the form man?, or more precisely
subdirectories selected by the value of
woman-manpath-man-regexp. Non-directory and unreadable files are ignored. This can also contain conses, with the car indicating a
PATHvariable component mapped to the directory tree given in the cdr.
If not set then the environment variable
MANPATHis used. If no such environment variable is found, the default list is determined by consulting the man configuration file if found. By default this is expected to be either /etc/man.config or /usr/local/lib/man.conf, which is controlled by the user option
woman-man.conf-path. An empty substring of
MANPATHdenotes the default list. Otherwise, the default value of this variable is
Any environment variables (names of which must have the Unix-style form
$EMACS_DIR, regardless of platform) are evaluated first but each element must evaluate to a single directory name. Trailing /s are ignored. (Specific directories in
woman-pathare also searched.)
On Microsoft platforms I recommend including drive letters explicitly, e.g.:
("C:/Cygwin/usr/man" "C:/usr/man" "C:/usr/local/man")
- A regular expression to match man directories under the
woman-manpathdirectories. These normally have names of the form man?. Its default value is
"[Mm][Aa][Nn]", which is case-insensitive mainly for the benefit of Microsoft platforms. Its purpose is to avoid directories such as cat?, ., .., etc.
- A list of strings representing specific directories to search for
Unix manual files. For example
These directories are searched in addition to the directory trees specified in
woman-manpath. Each element should be a directory string or
nil, which represents the current directory when the path is expanded and cached. However, the last component (only) of each directory string is treated as a regexp (Emacs, not shell) and the string is expanded into a list of matching directories. Non-directory and unreadable files are ignored. The default value on MS-DOS is
and on other platforms is
Any environment variables (names of which must have the Unix-style form
$EMACS_DIR, regardless of platform) are evaluated first but each element must evaluate to a single directory name (regexp, see above). For example
Trailing /s are discarded. (The directory trees in
woman-manpathare also searched.) On Microsoft platforms I recommend including drive letters explicitly.
- A positive integer representing the level of topic caching:
- cache only the topic and directory lists (uses minimal memory, but not recommended);
- cache also the directories for each topic (faster, without using much more memory);
- cache also the actual filenames for each topic (fastest, but uses twice as much memory).
The default value is currently 2, a good general compromise. If the
womancommand is slow to find files then try 3, which may be particularly beneficial with large remote-mounted man directories. Run the
womancommand with a prefix argument or delete the cache file
woman-cache-filenamefor a change to take effect. (Values < 1 behave like 1; values > 3 behave like 3.)
- Either a string representing the full pathname of the WoMan directory
and topic cache file, or
nil. It is used to save and restore the cache between Emacs sessions. This is especially useful with remote-mounted man page files! The default value of
nilsuppresses this action. The “standard” non-
nilfilename is ~/.wmncach.el. Remember that a prefix argument forces the
womancommand to update and re-write the cache.
- A list of
diredmode keys to be defined to run WoMan on the current file, e.g.,
("w" "W")or any non-
nilatom to automatically define w and W if they are unbound, or
nilto do nothing. Default is
- Imenu support for Sections and Subsections: an alist with elements of
(MENU-TITLE REGEXP INDEX)—see the documentation for
imenu-generic-expression. Default value is
((nil "\n\\([A-Z].*\\)" 1) ; SECTION, but not TITLE ("*Subsections*" "^ \\([A-Z].*\\)" 1))
- A boolean value that defaults to
nil. If non-
nilthen WoMan adds a Contents menu to the menubar by calling
- A string representing the title to use if WoMan adds a Contents menu to
the menubar. Default is
- A boolean value that defaults to
nil. If non-
womancommand uses the word at point as the topic, without interactive confirmation, if it exists as a topic.
- A boolean value representing the default value for
woman-use-topic-at-point. The default value is
nil. [The variable
womanis loaded, in which case its global value does not get defined. The function
woman-file-namesets it to this value if it is unbound.]
- A regular match expression used to select man source files (ignoring any
compression extension). The default value is
"\\.\\([0-9lmnt]\\w*\\)"[which means a filename extension is required].
Do not change this unless you are sure you know what you are doing!
The SysV standard man pages use two character suffixes, and this is becoming more common in the GNU world. For example, the man pages in the
ncursespackage include toe.1m, form.3x, etc.
Please note: an optional compression regexp will be appended, so this regexp must not end with any kind of string terminator such as
- A regular match expression used to match compressed man file extensions
for which decompressors are available and handled by auto-compression
mode. It should begin with
\\.and end with
\\'and must not be optional. The default value is
"\\.\\(g?z\\|bz2\\|xz\\)\\'", which matches the
Do not change this unless you are sure you know what you are doing!
[It should be compatible with the
jka-compr-file-name-handler-entry, but that is unduly complicated, includes an inappropriate extension (.tgz) and is not loaded by default!]
- If non-
nilthen use a dedicated frame for displaying WoMan windows. This is useful only when WoMan is run under a window system such as X or Microsoft Windows that supports real multiple frames, in which case the default value is non-
5.2 Formatting Options
- An integer specifying the right margin for formatted text. Default is
- A boolean value. If non-
nilthen most of the frame width is used, overriding the value of
woman-fill-column. Default is
- An integer specifying the default prevailing indent for the
-manmacros. Default is 5. Set this variable to 7 to emulate GNU/Linux man formatting.
- A boolean value. If non-
nilthen embolden section and subsection headings. Default is
t. [Heading emboldening is not standard
- A boolean value. If non-
nilthen unrecognized requests etc. are ignored. Default is
t. This gives the standard
nilthen they are left in the buffer, which may aid debugging.
- A boolean value. If non-
nilthen preserve ASCII characters in the WoMan buffer. Otherwise, non-ASCII characters (that display as ASCII) may remain, which is irrelevant unless the buffer is to be saved to a file. Default is
- WoMan emulation, currently either
troff. Default is
troffemulation is experimental and largely untested.
- A boolean value. If non-
nilthen WoMan assumes that face support is available. It defaults to a non-
nilvalue if the display supports either colors or different fonts.
- Face for italic font in man pages. Default: italic, underlined,
foreground red. This is overkill!
troffuses just italic;
nroffuses just underline. You should probably select either italic or underline as you prefer, but not both, although italic and underline work together perfectly well!
- Face for bold font in man pages. Default: bold, foreground blue.
- Face for all unknown fonts in man pages. Default: foreground brown.
Brown is a good compromise: it is distinguishable from the default but
not enough so as to make font errors look terrible. (Files that use
non-standard fonts seem to do so badly or in idiosyncratic ways!)
- Face for all additions made by WoMan to man pages. Default: foreground orange.
5.4 Special symbols
WoMan provides partial experimental support for special symbols,
initially only for MS-Windows and only for MS-Windows fonts. This
includes both non-ASCII characters from the main text font and use
of a separate symbol font. Later, support will be added for other font
bdf fonts) and for the X Window System. In Emacs
20.7, the current support works partially under Windows 9x but may not
work on any other platform.
- A boolean value. If non-
nilthen WoMan may use non-ASCII characters from the default font. Default is
- A boolean value. If non-
nilthen WoMan may use the symbol font. Default is
nil, mainly because it may change the line spacing (at least in NTEmacs 20).
- A string describing the symbol font to use for special characters.
It should be compatible with, and the same size as, the default text font.
Under MS-Windows, the default is
6 The *WoMan-Log* Buffer
This is modeled on the Emacs byte-compiler. It logs all files
formatted by WoMan and the time taken. If WoMan finds anything that it
cannot handle then it writes a warning to this buffer. If the variable
woman-show-log is non-
nil (by default it is
WoMan automatically displays this buffer. See Interface Options. Many WoMan warnings can be completely ignored,
because they are reporting the fact that WoMan has ignored requests that
it is correct for WoMan to ignore. In some future version this level of
paranoia may be reduced, but not until WoMan is deemed more reliable.
At present, all warnings should be treated with some suspicion.
Uninterpreted escape sequences are also logged (in some cases).
By resetting the variable
nil (by default
roff requests can optionally be
left in the formatted buffer to indicate precisely where they occurred.
See Interface Options.
7 Technical Details
Horizontal and vertical spacing and resolution
WoMan currently assumes 10 characters per inch horizontally, hence a
horizontal resolution of 24 basic units, and 5 lines per inch
vertically, hence a vertical resolution of 48 basic units.
nroff uses 240 per inch.)
Vertical spacing and blank lines
The number of consecutive blank lines in the formatted buffer should be either 0 or 1. A blank line should leave a space like .sp 1. Current policy is to output vertical space only immediately before text is output.
8 Reporting Bugs
- try the latest version of woman.el from the Emacs repository on http://savannah.gnu.org/projects/emacs/. If it still fails, please
- use M-x report-emacs-bug to send a bug report. Please include the entry from the *WoMan-Log* buffer relating to the problem file, together with a brief description of the problem. Please indicate where you got the man source file from, but do not send it unless asked to send it.
I also thank the following for helpful suggestions, bug reports, code fragments, general interest, etc.:
Jari Aalto, Dean Andrews, Juanma Barranquero, Karl Berry, Jim Chapman, Frederic Corne, Peter Craft, Charles Curley, Jim Davidson, Kevin D'Elia, John Fitch, Hans Frosch, Guy Gascoigne-Piggford, Brian Gorka, Nicolai Henriksen, Thomas Herchenroeder, Alexander Hinds, Stefan Hornburg, Theodore Jump, Paul Kinnucan, Jonas Linde, Andrew McRae, Howard Melman, Dennis Pixton, T. V. Raman, Bruce Ravel, Benjamin Riefenstahl, Kevin Ruland, Tom Schutter, Wei-Xue Shi, Fabio Somenzi, Karel Sprenger, Chris Szurgot, Paul A. Thompson, Arrigo Triulzi, Geoff Voelker, Eli Zaretskii
Appendix A GNU Free Documentation License
Copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2008 Free Software Foundation, Inc. http://fsf.org/ Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies of this license document, but changing it is not allowed.
The purpose of this License is to make a manual, textbook, or other functional and useful document free in the sense of freedom: to assure everyone the effective freedom to copy and redistribute it, with or without modifying it, either commercially or noncommercially. Secondarily, this License preserves for the author and publisher a way to get credit for their work, while not being considered responsible for modifications made by others.
This License is a kind of “copyleft”, which means that derivative works of the document must themselves be free in the same sense. It complements the GNU General Public License, which is a copyleft license designed for free software.
We have designed this License in order to use it for manuals for free software, because free software needs free documentation: a free program should come with manuals providing the same freedoms that the software does. But this License is not limited to software manuals; it can be used for any textual work, regardless of subject matter or whether it is published as a printed book. We recommend this License principally for works whose purpose is instruction or reference.
- APPLICABILITY AND DEFINITIONS
This License applies to any manual or other work, in any medium, that contains a notice placed by the copyright holder saying it can be distributed under the terms of this License. Such a notice grants a world-wide, royalty-free license, unlimited in duration, to use that work under the conditions stated herein. The “Document”, below, refers to any such manual or work. Any member of the public is a licensee, and is addressed as “you”. You accept the license if you copy, modify or distribute the work in a way requiring permission under copyright law.
A “Modified Version” of the Document means any work containing the Document or a portion of it, either copied verbatim, or with modifications and/or translated into another language.
A “Secondary Section” is a named appendix or a front-matter section of the Document that deals exclusively with the relationship of the publishers or authors of the Document to the Document's overall subject (or to related matters) and contains nothing that could fall directly within that overall subject. (Thus, if the Document is in part a textbook of mathematics, a Secondary Section may not explain any mathematics.) The relationship could be a matter of historical connection with the subject or with related matters, or of legal, commercial, philosophical, ethical or political position regarding them.
The “Invariant Sections” are certain Secondary Sections whose titles are designated, as being those of Invariant Sections, in the notice that says that the Document is released under this License. If a section does not fit the above definition of Secondary then it is not allowed to be designated as Invariant. The Document may contain zero Invariant Sections. If the Document does not identify any Invariant Sections then there are none.
The “Cover Texts” are certain short passages of text that are listed, as Front-Cover Texts or Back-Cover Texts, in the notice that says that the Document is released under this License. A Front-Cover Text may be at most 5 words, and a Back-Cover Text may be at most 25 words.
A “Transparent” copy of the Document means a machine-readable copy, represented in a format whose specification is available to the general public, that is suitable for revising the document straightforwardly with generic text editors or (for images composed of pixels) generic paint programs or (for drawings) some widely available drawing editor, and that is suitable for input to text formatters or for automatic translation to a variety of formats suitable for input to text formatters. A copy made in an otherwise Transparent file format whose markup, or absence of markup, has been arranged to thwart or discourage subsequent modification by readers is not Transparent. An image format is not Transparent if used for any substantial amount of text. A copy that is not “Transparent” is called “Opaque”.
Examples of suitable formats for Transparent copies include plain ASCII without markup, Texinfo input format, LaTeX input format, SGML or XML using a publicly available DTD, and standard-conforming simple HTML, PostScript or PDF designed for human modification. Examples of transparent image formats include PNG, XCF and JPG. Opaque formats include proprietary formats that can be read and edited only by proprietary word processors, SGML or XML for which the DTD and/or processing tools are not generally available, and the machine-generated HTML, PostScript or PDF produced by some word processors for output purposes only.
The “Title Page” means, for a printed book, the title page itself, plus such following pages as are needed to hold, legibly, the material this License requires to appear in the title page. For works in formats which do not have any title page as such, “Title Page” means the text near the most prominent appearance of the work's title, preceding the beginning of the body of the text.
The “publisher” means any person or entity that distributes copies of the Document to the public.
A section “Entitled XYZ” means a named subunit of the Document whose title either is precisely XYZ or contains XYZ in parentheses following text that translates XYZ in another language. (Here XYZ stands for a specific section name mentioned below, such as “Acknowledgements”, “Dedications”, “Endorsements”, or “History”.) To “Preserve the Title” of such a section when you modify the Document means that it remains a section “Entitled XYZ” according to this definition.
The Document may include Warranty Disclaimers next to the notice which states that this License applies to the Document. These Warranty Disclaimers are considered to be included by reference in this License, but only as regards disclaiming warranties: any other implication that these Warranty Disclaimers may have is void and has no effect on the meaning of this License.
- VERBATIM COPYING
You may copy and distribute the Document in any medium, either commercially or noncommercially, provided that this License, the copyright notices, and the license notice saying this License applies to the Document are reproduced in all copies, and that you add no other conditions whatsoever to those of this License. You may not use technical measures to obstruct or control the reading or further copying of the copies you make or distribute. However, you may accept compensation in exchange for copies. If you distribute a large enough number of copies you must also follow the conditions in section 3.
You may also lend copies, under the same conditions stated above, and you may publicly display copies.
- COPYING IN QUANTITY
If you publish printed copies (or copies in media that commonly have printed covers) of the Document, numbering more than 100, and the Document's license notice requires Cover Texts, you must enclose the copies in covers that carry, clearly and legibly, all these Cover Texts: Front-Cover Texts on the front cover, and Back-Cover Texts on the back cover. Both covers must also clearly and legibly identify you as the publisher of these copies. The front cover must present the full title with all words of the title equally prominent and visible. You may add other material on the covers in addition. Copying with changes limited to the covers, as long as they preserve the title of the Document and satisfy these conditions, can be treated as verbatim copying in other respects.
If the required texts for either cover are too voluminous to fit legibly, you should put the first ones listed (as many as fit reasonably) on the actual cover, and continue the rest onto adjacent pages.
If you publish or distribute Opaque copies of the Document numbering more than 100, you must either include a machine-readable Transparent copy along with each Opaque copy, or state in or with each Opaque copy a computer-network location from which the general network-using public has access to download using public-standard network protocols a complete Transparent copy of the Document, free of added material. If you use the latter option, you must take reasonably prudent steps, when you begin distribution of Opaque copies in quantity, to ensure that this Transparent copy will remain thus accessible at the stated location until at least one year after the last time you distribute an Opaque copy (directly or through your agents or retailers) of that edition to the public.
It is requested, but not required, that you contact the authors of the Document well before redistributing any large number of copies, to give them a chance to provide you with an updated version of the Document.
You may copy and distribute a Modified Version of the Document under the conditions of sections 2 and 3 above, provided that you release the Modified Version under precisely this License, with the Modified Version filling the role of the Document, thus licensing distribution and modification of the Modified Version to whoever possesses a copy of it. In addition, you must do these things in the Modified Version:
- Use in the Title Page (and on the covers, if any) a title distinct from that of the Document, and from those of previous versions (which should, if there were any, be listed in the History section of the Document). You may use the same title as a previous version if the original publisher of that version gives permission.
- List on the Title Page, as authors, one or more persons or entities responsible for authorship of the modifications in the Modified Version, together with at least five of the principal authors of the Document (all of its principal authors, if it has fewer than five), unless they release you from this requirement.
- State on the Title page the name of the publisher of the Modified Version, as the publisher.
- Preserve all the copyright notices of the Document.
- Add an appropriate copyright notice for your modifications adjacent to the other copyright notices.
- Include, immediately after the copyright notices, a license notice giving the public permission to use the Modified Version under the terms of this License, in the form shown in the Addendum below.
- Preserve in that license notice the full lists of Invariant Sections and required Cover Texts given in the Document's license notice.
- Include an unaltered copy of this License.
- Preserve the section Entitled “History”, Preserve its Title, and add to it an item stating at least the title, year, new authors, and publisher of the Modified Version as given on the Title Page. If there is no section Entitled “History” in the Document, create one stating the title, year, authors, and publisher of the Document as given on its Title Page, then add an item describing the Modified Version as stated in the previous sentence.
- Preserve the network location, if any, given in the Document for public access to a Transparent copy of the Document, and likewise the network locations given in the Document for previous versions it was based on. These may be placed in the “History” section. You may omit a network location for a work that was published at least four years before the Document itself, or if the original publisher of the version it refers to gives permission.
- For any section Entitled “Acknowledgements” or “Dedications”, Preserve the Title of the section, and preserve in the section all the substance and tone of each of the contributor acknowledgements and/or dedications given therein.
- Preserve all the Invariant Sections of the Document, unaltered in their text and in their titles. Section numbers or the equivalent are not considered part of the section titles.
- Delete any section Entitled “Endorsements”. Such a section may not be included in the Modified Version.
- Do not retitle any existing section to be Entitled “Endorsements” or to conflict in title with any Invariant Section.
- Preserve any Warranty Disclaimers.
If the Modified Version includes new front-matter sections or appendices that qualify as Secondary Sections and contain no material copied from the Document, you may at your option designate some or all of these sections as invariant. To do this, add their titles to the list of Invariant Sections in the Modified Version's license notice. These titles must be distinct from any other section titles.
You may add a section Entitled “Endorsements”, provided it contains nothing but endorsements of your Modified Version by various parties—for example, statements of peer review or that the text has been approved by an organization as the authoritative definition of a standard.
You may add a passage of up to five words as a Front-Cover Text, and a passage of up to 25 words as a Back-Cover Text, to the end of the list of Cover Texts in the Modified Version. Only one passage of Front-Cover Text and one of Back-Cover Text may be added by (or through arrangements made by) any one entity. If the Document already includes a cover text for the same cover, previously added by you or by arrangement made by the same entity you are acting on behalf of, you may not add another; but you may replace the old one, on explicit permission from the previous publisher that added the old one.
The author(s) and publisher(s) of the Document do not by this License give permission to use their names for publicity for or to assert or imply endorsement of any Modified Version.
- COMBINING DOCUMENTS
You may combine the Document with other documents released under this License, under the terms defined in section 4 above for modified versions, provided that you include in the combination all of the Invariant Sections of all of the original documents, unmodified, and list them all as Invariant Sections of your combined work in its license notice, and that you preserve all their Warranty Disclaimers.
The combined work need only contain one copy of this License, and multiple identical Invariant Sections may be replaced with a single copy. If there are multiple Invariant Sections with the same name but different contents, make the title of each such section unique by adding at the end of it, in parentheses, the name of the original author or publisher of that section if known, or else a unique number. Make the same adjustment to the section titles in the list of Invariant Sections in the license notice of the combined work.
In the combination, you must combine any sections Entitled “History” in the various original documents, forming one section Entitled “History”; likewise combine any sections Entitled “Acknowledgements”, and any sections Entitled “Dedications”. You must delete all sections Entitled “Endorsements.”
- COLLECTIONS OF DOCUMENTS
You may make a collection consisting of the Document and other documents released under this License, and replace the individual copies of this License in the various documents with a single copy that is included in the collection, provided that you follow the rules of this License for verbatim copying of each of the documents in all other respects.
You may extract a single document from such a collection, and distribute it individually under this License, provided you insert a copy of this License into the extracted document, and follow this License in all other respects regarding verbatim copying of that document.
- AGGREGATION WITH INDEPENDENT WORKS
A compilation of the Document or its derivatives with other separate and independent documents or works, in or on a volume of a storage or distribution medium, is called an “aggregate” if the copyright resulting from the compilation is not used to limit the legal rights of the compilation's users beyond what the individual works permit. When the Document is included in an aggregate, this License does not apply to the other works in the aggregate which are not themselves derivative works of the Document.
If the Cover Text requirement of section 3 is applicable to these copies of the Document, then if the Document is less than one half of the entire aggregate, the Document's Cover Texts may be placed on covers that bracket the Document within the aggregate, or the electronic equivalent of covers if the Document is in electronic form. Otherwise they must appear on printed covers that bracket the whole aggregate.
Translation is considered a kind of modification, so you may distribute translations of the Document under the terms of section 4. Replacing Invariant Sections with translations requires special permission from their copyright holders, but you may include translations of some or all Invariant Sections in addition to the original versions of these Invariant Sections. You may include a translation of this License, and all the license notices in the Document, and any Warranty Disclaimers, provided that you also include the original English version of this License and the original versions of those notices and disclaimers. In case of a disagreement between the translation and the original version of this License or a notice or disclaimer, the original version will prevail.
If a section in the Document is Entitled “Acknowledgements”, “Dedications”, or “History”, the requirement (section 4) to Preserve its Title (section 1) will typically require changing the actual title.
You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Document except as expressly provided under this License. Any attempt otherwise to copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute it is void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this License.
However, if you cease all violation of this License, then your license from a particular copyright holder is reinstated (a) provisionally, unless and until the copyright holder explicitly and finally terminates your license, and (b) permanently, if the copyright holder fails to notify you of the violation by some reasonable means prior to 60 days after the cessation.
Moreover, your license from a particular copyright holder is reinstated permanently if the copyright holder notifies you of the violation by some reasonable means, this is the first time you have received notice of violation of this License (for any work) from that copyright holder, and you cure the violation prior to 30 days after your receipt of the notice.
Termination of your rights under this section does not terminate the licenses of parties who have received copies or rights from you under this License. If your rights have been terminated and not permanently reinstated, receipt of a copy of some or all of the same material does not give you any rights to use it.
- FUTURE REVISIONS OF THIS LICENSE
The Free Software Foundation may publish new, revised versions of the GNU Free Documentation License from time to time. Such new versions will be similar in spirit to the present version, but may differ in detail to address new problems or concerns. See http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/.
Each version of the License is given a distinguishing version number. If the Document specifies that a particular numbered version of this License “or any later version” applies to it, you have the option of following the terms and conditions either of that specified version or of any later version that has been published (not as a draft) by the Free Software Foundation. If the Document does not specify a version number of this License, you may choose any version ever published (not as a draft) by the Free Software Foundation. If the Document specifies that a proxy can decide which future versions of this License can be used, that proxy's public statement of acceptance of a version permanently authorizes you to choose that version for the Document.
“Massive Multiauthor Collaboration Site” (or “MMC Site”) means any World Wide Web server that publishes copyrightable works and also provides prominent facilities for anybody to edit those works. A public wiki that anybody can edit is an example of such a server. A “Massive Multiauthor Collaboration” (or “MMC”) contained in the site means any set of copyrightable works thus published on the MMC site.
“CC-BY-SA” means the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license published by Creative Commons Corporation, a not-for-profit corporation with a principal place of business in San Francisco, California, as well as future copyleft versions of that license published by that same organization.
“Incorporate” means to publish or republish a Document, in whole or in part, as part of another Document.
An MMC is “eligible for relicensing” if it is licensed under this License, and if all works that were first published under this License somewhere other than this MMC, and subsequently incorporated in whole or in part into the MMC, (1) had no cover texts or invariant sections, and (2) were thus incorporated prior to November 1, 2008.
The operator of an MMC Site may republish an MMC contained in the site under CC-BY-SA on the same site at any time before August 1, 2009, provided the MMC is eligible for relicensing.
ADDENDUM: How to use this License for your documents
To use this License in a document you have written, include a copy of the License in the document and put the following copyright and license notices just after the title page:
Copyright (C) year your name. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled ``GNU Free Documentation License''.
If you have Invariant Sections, Front-Cover Texts and Back-Cover Texts, replace the “with...Texts.” line with this:
with the Invariant Sections being list their titles, with the Front-Cover Texts being list, and with the Back-Cover Texts being list.
If you have Invariant Sections without Cover Texts, or some other combination of the three, merge those two alternatives to suit the situation.
If your document contains nontrivial examples of program code, we recommend releasing these examples in parallel under your choice of free software license, such as the GNU General Public License, to permit their use in free software.
woman-bold-headings: Formatting Options
woman-cache-filename: Interface Options
woman-cache-level: Interface Options
woman-default-indent: Formatting Options
woman-dired-keys: Interface Options
woman-emulation: Formatting Options
woman-file-compression-regexp: Interface Options
woman-fill-column: Formatting Options
woman-fill-frame: Formatting Options
woman-ignore: Formatting Options
woman-imenu: Interface Options
woman-imenu-generic-expression: Interface Options
woman-imenu-title: Interface Options
woman-man.conf-path: Interface Options
woman-manpath: Interface Options
woman-manpath-man-regexp: Interface Options
woman-path: Interface Options
woman-preserve-ascii: Formatting Options
woman-symbol-font: Special symbols
woman-uncompressed-file-regexp: Interface Options
woman-use-extended-font: Special symbols
woman-use-own-frame: Interface Options
woman-use-symbol-font: Special symbols
woman-use-topic-at-point: Interface Options
woman-use-topic-at-point-default: Interface Options
0 .. 9: Convenience
- acknowledgments: Acknowledgments
- automatic interface: Automatic
- background: Background
- browsing man pages: Browsing
- buffer, log: Log
- bugs, reporting: Bugs
- cache, topic: Cache
- case-sensitivity: Finding
- changing current man page: Changing
- contents menu: Imenu
- convenience key bindings: Convenience
- current man page, changing: Changing
- customization: Customization
- directory separator character: Interface Options
- faces: Faces
- faces: Fonts
- filename interface: Filename
- finding man pages: Finding
- following references: References
- fonts: Fonts
- formatting man pages: Finding
- formatting options: Formatting Options
- horizontal spacing: Technical
- imenu support: Imenu
- interface options: Interface Options
- introduction: Introduction
- key bindings, convenience: Convenience
- log buffer: Log
- man pages, browsing: Browsing
- man pages, finding: Finding
- man pages, formatting: Finding
MANPATH, directory separator: Interface Options
MANPATH, environment variable: Interface Options
- navigation: Navigation
- point, word at: Word at point
- references: References
- reporting bugs: Bugs
- resolution: Technical
- spacing, horizontal and vertical: Technical
- special symbols: Special symbols
- technical details: Technical
- topic cache: Cache
- topic interface: Topic
- using, browsing man pages: Browsing
- using, finding man pages: Finding
- using, formatting man pages: Finding
- vertical spacing: Technical
- word at point: Word at point