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I find the man page format extremely painful to write. Is there a GUI (WYSIWYG or WYSIWYM) editor available to make this task easier? I'm hoping for an application that is to man pages as Kompozer is to web pages.

I have tried gmanedit but have found that it is basically just a text editor with some easily available snippets - it is necessary to know the man page format to use it and the editing area is just a text widget.

While I'd prefer software that is in the official Ubuntu repositories, I am OK with using unsupported methods for installation such as PPAs or installing from source.

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

It is possible to author man pages using DocBook markup and use tools such as docbook2x-man to create troff output. There are some visual ("WYSIWYM"-style) editors available for editing DocBook markup. For example, the GPL-licensed Syntext Serna Free:

Screenshot of using Syntext Serna Free to edit a DocBook reference entry

Also, doclifter is a utility for converting man pages to DocBook.

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Agreed, I write my man pages in docbook format. It's much more maintainable! – Roger Light Nov 24 '10 at 23:33
Docbook is the best format for creating documentation. Once your Docbook file is completed, it can be converted to a multitude of formats. XHTML, Man Pages, etc ... – TechZilla Oct 6 '12 at 20:42
Seems like a nice editor, but unfortunately it looks like there is no free version anymore. – MestreLion Nov 8 '12 at 17:11

This is an addendum to Jukka's suggestion of using docbook with the main reason why I like it other than it's much easier to write and deal with:

You can convert it to .pot files for more easy translation. For example, creating a .pot (language template):

xml2po -o my_program.1.pot my_program.1.xml

Then merging translated files (.po) back into a language specific docbook man page, in this case German:

xml2po -p de.po my_program.xml >

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There's also ManDrake for Mac OS X. Has some elementary features such as live preview and syntax highlighting.

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There is one, ManEdit. However, I don't know if its still active :(


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I also found that one, it does seem to be abandoned and uses GTK 1.x! – Alvin Row Nov 23 '10 at 22:04

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