DITROFF(7) Miscellaneous Information Manual DITROFF(7)
ditroff - classical device independent roff
The name ditroff once marked a development level of the troff text
processing system. In actual roff(7) systems, the name troff is used
as a synonym for ditroff.
The first roff system was written by Joe Osanna around 1973. It
supported only two output devices, the nroff program produced text
oriented tty output, while the troff program generated graphical output
for exactly one output device, the Wang Graphic Systems CAT typesetter.
In 1979, Brian Kernighan rewrote troff to support more devices by
creating an intermediate output format for troff that can be fed into
postprocessor programs which actually do the printout on the device.
Kernighan's version marks what is known as classical troff today. In
order to distinguish it from Osanna's original mono-device version, it
was called ditroff (d/evice i/ndependent troff/) on some systems,
though this naming isn't mentioned in the classical documentation.
Today, any existing roff system is based on Kernighan's multi-device
troff. The distinction between troff and ditroff isn't necessary any
longer, for each modern troff provides already the complete
functionality of ditroff. On most systems, the name troff is used to
The easiest way to use ditroff is the GNU roff system, groff. The
groff(1) program is a wrapper around (di)troff that automatically
The 1992 revision of the Nroff/Troff User's Manual by J. F.
Osanna and Brian Kernighan, see
A Typesetter-independent TROFF by Brian Kernighan is the
original documentation of the first multi-device troff
This document gives details on the history and concepts of roff.
The actual implementation of ditroff.
The GNU roff program and pointers to all documentation around
The groff version of the intermediate output language, the basis
Copyright (C) 2001, 2002, 2004 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
This document is part of groff, the GNU roff distribution. It was
written by and is maintained by
Groff Version 1.19.2 February 6, 2006 DITROFF(7)