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Re: The minibuffer vs. Dialog Boxes (Re: Making XEmacs be more up-to-dat

From: Eli Zaretskii
Subject: Re: The minibuffer vs. Dialog Boxes (Re: Making XEmacs be more up-to-date)
Date: Wed, 24 Apr 2002 09:39:41 +0300 (IDT)

On Wed, 24 Apr 2002, Terje Bless wrote:

> In the context of this specific discussion, I'm refusing to read the manual
> partly to illustrate a point and partially because it allows me the
> "innocent" perspective.

That's perfectly okay, but I'm deeply convinced that a tool of such 
flexibility cannot be used without consulting the documentation to some 
extent.  We need to make that documentation more accessible and more 
efficient in answering the specific question the user might have at any 
given point, but the look alone is IMHO insufficient to tell the user 
about all the possible gestures and operations she has at her disposal.

Making Emacs more intuitive requires an effort; making the docs more 
useful requires an effort as well.  These two efforts should be balanced, 
IMHO; saying that documentation should be (almost) irrelevant promotes 
the idea that one effort should be favored at the expense of the other, 
which I think is not a good idea, because I think it's impossible to 
reduce the need in documentation to the low level of the kind I thought
you were asking for.

> it's very easy
> to assume the position that if someone can't be bothered to put in a little
> effort to manage on their own, they don't deserve hand-holding from those
> that have put in a lot of effort over a lot of time to acquire the
> expertise they have.

I didn't assume such a position; if my wording somehow hinted of that, I 
apologize.  I was merely trying to figure out the peculiar (to me) 
position of trying to use a compex tool without consulting the docs.

In my experience, reading the manual once or twice is not enough: it is 
too large to remember.  You need to consult the manual every time you 
have a specific problem, using the manual as a reference.  Facilities 
such as `i' are a big help here.  I would even go as far as telling not 
to read the manual in its entirety at all, even once, except for the 
first few sections about the basics.  Instead, wait until you have a 
specific problem and look that up.

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