The traditional Unix way of handling documents is to split the process of creating a document into two quite distinct portions, with separate sets of tools.
One uses a text editor of some sort (vi and Emacs being popular choices amongst Unix cognoscenti), creating and editing the document as an ordinary ASCII text file, and write the document using some sort of presentation language.
The advantage to maintaining documents as ASCII text (which could naturally migrate to UNICODE or some other such character set representation) is that this allows us to bring various text processing tools to bear on the resulting documents.
This would include things like:
Programming languages such as Perl, Python, or Awk
Unix text filter utilities
"Source Code" management tools like RCS, SCCS, CVS, PCVS
Programs written to create documents by extracting database information from databases
Output from programs that compute things
Processing using these sorts of tools is much harder to do with traditional "word processing" systems that strongly tie together the user interface (e.g. - keyboard/mouse controls) and control over manipulation of documents.
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