This paper draws a parallel between document preparation and the traditional processes of compilation and link editing for computer programs. A block-based document model is described which allows for separate compilation of various portions of a document. These portions are brought together and merged by a linker program, called dlink, whose pilot implementation is based on ditroff and on its underlying intermediate code. In the light of experiences with dlink the requirements for a universal object-module language for documents are discussed. These requirements often resemble the characteristics of the intermediate codes used by programming-language compilers but with interesting extra constraints which arise from the way documents are executed
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