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Texinfo

From Academic Kids

GNU Texinfo is a free computer program for generating documentation in multiple formats from a single source file.

Contents

Texinfo source file

Texinfo allows to structure a document like a book with chapters, sections, cross references and indices. The source is plain text with embedded formatting commands marked with "@". A sample of a part of a source file:

@ifnottex
@node Top
@top Short Sample

@insertcopying
@end ifnottex

@menu
* First Chapter::    The first chapter is the
                     only chapter in this sample.
* Index::            Complete index.
@end menu

The commands mark structure such as chapters or denote a part of the source to be processed only for certain types of output.

Generated output

Output formats supported by Texinfo include plain text, Info, HTML, DVI, PDF, XML and DocBook.

For the printable formats Texinfo uses TeX by issuing the necessary instructions to interpret Texinfo commands as TeX's own.

Notable is the lack of man as an output format. Texinfo is used to write the documentation of GNU software, which typically used in Unix-like environments such as GNU/Linux, where the traditional format for documentation is man. Man pages have a strict conventional format, whereas typical Texinfo applications are for tutorials and reference manuals. As such there is no benefit in using Texinfo for man pages, which are traditionally quick reference guides. However, many GNU projects eschew man pages nearly altogether, referring the reader of the provided, and often self-describedly seldomly maintained, man page to the Info document.

Info

An info file is a Texinfo file formatted so that the Info documentation reading program can operate on it. Info presents the documentation as a tree, with commands to traverse the tree and to follow cross references.

Status of Texinfo

Texinfo is used as the official documentation system for GNU project. Texinfo is licensed under GNU General Public License and is a part of the GNU project.

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