Apple and links

Yesterday, there was a crisis among iOS automation people, as Apple broke all the links to shortcuts. How this happened—or even what happened—has not been explained, but Apple seems to be slowly restoring the links as I write this.

This reminded me of Apple’s bad behavior with online documentation URLs, specifically those for man pages. For a few years, Apple kept changing where it kept its HTML-formatted man pages, breaking links all over the internet. As I said in a post five years ago, complaining about this:

… Apple is a terrible citizen of the web. Links, especially to programming documentation, should be maintained. If a directory structure has to be changed, redirects should be used to send visitors to the new locations. This is Web 101.

More recently, Apple has stopped moving its man pages around and just deleted them from the internet entirely. As best I can tell, there is no way to see an online version of any of the man pages that ship with macOS. Unless you want to go straight to the nroff source, which is kind of hard to read.

The SS64 site has what they say are macOS man pages, and they rank high in Google and DuckDuckGo searches, but I find they often don’t match what I get from running man in the Terminal. For example, SS64’s sort page doesn’t have a DESCRIPTION section, and its explanations of several options differ from my local man page for sort.

So when I blog about a command, I can’t always link to an accurate man page. Worse, my old posts are littered with broken links, and there’s no longer a way to fix them.