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RE: [h-e-w] EmacsW32, gnuserv, pathes in .emacs

From: Drew Adams
Subject: RE: [h-e-w] EmacsW32, gnuserv, pathes in .emacs
Date: Mon, 10 Jul 2006 14:52:56 -0700

    > IME, the tutorial is some 200~300 lines too long.

    It omits some vital information even though you think it's long.  I
    don't know how it can be possible to introduce a program of Emacs'
    complexity in less than 1200 lines of text, and still do a good job.

Perhaps a modular suite of short (mini) tutorials? That is, a long tutorial
could be tackled more easily in several learning sessions and in smaller
bites. You could go directly to "Lesson 3, Incremental Search" or whatever,
if you wanted. With an outline at the top (or left) that helps you find your
way around the main tutorial topics, that could be an improvement.

    > In the tutorial, the info help system is mentioned toward the end,
    > at the point where a reader is likely to skip stuff that looks

    It is mentioned in the end, because using Help is how a new user
    should continue her education.  If we mention it anywhere else, it
    will be forgotten by the time the user finishes with the Tutorial.

I tend to agree that a short tutorial exercise of using the manual to
quickly find something (and then come back) could be useful, up front. There
already is a separate ~tutorial about using Info: the Info manual. No, it's
not really a tutorial, but it's a good intro to Info. The Emacs tutorial
could help you take a dip in the Emacs manual, and then, as a side (sub)
topic, offer you the Info manual to learn more about how to navigate Info.

I think a brief visit to each of the following would be useful in the
tutorial, sort of to chart the territory:

 - help - e.g. `C-h v'
 - customize - e.g. `C-h v' for some option, then click the customize link
 - info (Emacs manual)

This would go a long way toward helping people find their way around, and
hand-holding through a mini-Customize session would take some of the mystery
and fear out of it. Let users change some innocuous setting that affects
appearance. Show them how to get back to the appearance they had. Perhaps
even have them save the customized setting and start a new session to see it
used, then use customize it again to get back to the default setting.

In general, anything we think Emacs users need to use often should be at
least pointed out in the tutorial. The emphasis in the tutorial (IIRC - it's
been twenty years since I've used it) is on text editing, which is fine, but
how to get help and how to customize Emacs (that is, how to set preferences)
are also important for general use.

    > Perhaps, the tutorial should propose exercises that involve
    > using C-h i.

    That's a good idea, but I don't see how we can implement it without
    enlarging the Tutorial, which you say is already too large.

I suspect the problem is not the overall size, but the fact that it is not
in bite-size pieces - you need to digest it all at once. You cannot easily
follow the tutorial for 10 minutes each day - you cannot easily pick up
where you left off. (Again, I'm going by memory here).

Many recent tutorials and online courses on the Web have a left "menu" that
shows the course outline (tutorial subtopics). You can follow the tutorial
from front to back, or you can click a topic in the left menu to start that
part of the tutorial directly.

I think something similar would be helpful for the Emacs tutorial. If
anything, it needs to cover more, not less. It just needs to do it in a
modular (chunked) way.

    > For example, the tutorial explains incremental search in
    > detail. Instead, it might explain how to go into the Emacs manual
    > and read that, pushing the reader for really doing it in that very
    > moment and then continue.

    I'm not sure.  Search is such a fundamental editing feature that
    without it one cannot edit.

The tutorial could be a tree. When you get to a topic such as incremental
search, you could choose whether to go into some aspect of it in more detail
(further exercises) or not. If the user is in control of the depth of
learning and the time spent, then there is no problem with making *lots* of
information and exercises available. IOW, each part of the tutorial (each
tree branch) could be optional: follow or skip.

That's what happens when you explore some topic on the Web: you decide
whether to read a whole page and what links to follow. No one would say that
the Web contains too much info. But if you were required to follow all of
the Web in one long tutorial, you'd burn out in short order.

    > BTW, shouldn't the help screen come in a new frame?

    Sorry, I don't think I understand what you ask.  Can you elaborate?

My guess is he means open *Help* in a separate frame, but, yes, please

[Disclaimer: My description of the Emacs tutorial above might not be

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