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[h-e-w] Info-index command

From: David Vanderschel
Subject: [h-e-w] Info-index command
Date: 11 Jul 2006 02:14:51 -0500

On Thursday, July 06, "Eli Zaretskii" <address@hidden> 
in responding to "Phil Betts" <address@hidden> wrote:

>My crystal ball says that you either don't know about the `i'
>(Info-index) command, or rarely use it.  That command (and the
>indexing in the manual) is specifically tuned to those who need to
>find things quickly _without_ knowing what they are looking for.  I
>think we should advertise that feature much more than we do, because
>it's under-used.

I have been using emacs since 1985 and I was unaware
of the 'i' command in Info; so Eli's 'announcement'
came as big and pleasant surprise for me.  I was
certainly aware of the possibility for the existence
of an index in an Info document, and I have often used
the ones in the Emacs and elisp Info manuals.
(Indeed, I had back in the mid-80's myself prepared a
very large Info document as documentation for a
software product, and I had been very careful to make
its index useful.)  But I never knew about this
superior way of using an index.  In truth, I had often
wished for functionality such as the 'i' command
brings.  Eli did not mention the handy associated ','
command which proceeds to other matches once you have
issued an 'i' command.

I tried to find out out how I could have learned about
the 'i' command.  The problems I encountered may be
due to the fact that I am still running v20.7, but I
doubt that all of them are.  The command is not
mentioned in the Emacs manual at all.  Ironically, my
Info file for Info itself has no index.  Furthermore,
there is no reference to any documentation that
mentions an 'i' command in the top level node of the
Info Info file.  

Using describe-key, I could get the name,
"Info-index", of the function that implements the 'i'
command.  Searching on that in the Info Info file
(using M-s), I could not find it.  Becoming more
desperate, I tried searching on just "index".  This
hit paydirt in a node called "Searching an Info File".
It mentions the command, but lists "index-search" as
the name of the function.  (No such function is
mentioned in the Emacs manual either.)  (Here is where
I learned about the ',' command, but I see that that
is mentioned if you bring up the help for Info-index.
I also learned that, instead of 'M-s' for a regexp
search in Info, I can also use plain 's'; but I am
not sure how I even knew about M-s - perhaps
discovered by accident.)

I actually do read the Info manuals, so I wondered why
I had never seen this "Searching an Info File" node
before, as it did indeed contain documentation of
considerable interest to me.  So I hit 'u' for Info-up
and discovered a node called "Using the Stand-alone
Info Reader".  Now here was another node I had never
seen before - presumably because I have never been
running a stand-alone version of Info.  (It is
definitely not mentioned in my the top level menu for
Info even though 'u' from it goes there.)  But this
node contains valuable documentation on many types of
commands - not just searching - which are relevant in
the version of Info running from _within_ emacs.  I
was very frustrated to discover that this valuable
documentation had been hidden from me for all these
years.  I hope this documentation bug has been fixed
in more recent updates.

I agree that the 'i' command in Info is important for
beginners and that more emphasis should be placed on
introducing it.

  David V.

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