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Generate a skel for manpage from "prog --help"
Sandro Tosi, 04 August 2006
In my role as Debian packages maintainer, I have to provide a good package, and this could mean to write a manpage if the upstream author does not provide one.
It's common to have a tool that invoked with -h or --help switch generates a list of its options with their meaning.
The following script takes the output of "prog --help" and generate a skeleton for options part of a manpage (anymeal is the program I was packaging while writing this script):
anymeal --help-all | grep "^ -" | sed 's/ -/.TP \ .B -/' | sed 's| --| \\-\\-|g' | sed 's| -| \\-|g'
note the space in the grep command and in the substitution part for sed: adjust for the output.
Here is chunk of the output of anymeal --help-all:
Show help about options
and the trasformation applyied by the script:
now, you are only left to take the description in the row below ".B ..." and you've done.
If you have installed the package man-db, you can find some examples of man pages in the directory /usr/share/doc/man-db/examples/.
On 2006-08-19 I've discovered the tool help2man, that does almost the same thing...