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Re: Emacs setup assistants

From: Ted Zlatanov
Subject: Re: Emacs setup assistants
Date: Wed, 19 May 2004 12:41:06 -0400
User-agent: Gnus/5.110003 (No Gnus v0.3) Emacs/21.3.50 (gnu/linux)

On Wed, 19 May 2004, address@hidden wrote:

>     @title Configuring Gnus for reading news
>     @node Server name and port
>     @variable server :string (gnus-getenv-nntpserver)
>     @variable port :number 119
>     @validate
>     (let ((stream
> This would require changes in Texinfo, which would
> make it very hard.
> Can you design it to use existing Texinfo constructs?  For instance,
> just use @example instead of @validate.  Use @defopt instead of
> @variable.

But they are very different things - @validate holds an ELisp action
distinct from @reset, for instance (@reset is needed when we need to
reset the assistant variables to the defaults).  At the very least it
should be @example{validate} or something like that, and by then you
may as well have a separate syntax.

I think with @ifassistant tags, what's above should not be too much
trouble in terms of making changes to Texinfo itself.  There would
have to be a special Emacs-only renderer for the @ifassistant sections
and I don't know how difficult that would be to write, but it should
not affect the other aspects of Texinfo.  The assistant writers can
ensure that every @ifassistant section has alternate text for those
who can't render the section.

> You can design some convention for giving the extra info that you
> need, so it will show up in the Info file or ASCII output.

I really don't think that's possible.  I started writing some of these
assistants for Gnus, and they simply would not make sense outside
Emacs because we need ELisp for variable definition, initialization,
and validation.  Otherwise you have to make up an alternate data
language to achieve the same things, and it's just as painful while
twice as difficult to learn (yes, XML was mentioned).

In HTML you may be able to simulate the assistants with JavaScript or
XForms, but I really don't think that's worth the trouble.  I can't
imagine how an assistant could be rendered in ASCII.


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