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RE: My emacs was upgraded and I am a novice again


From: Drew Adams
Subject: RE: My emacs was upgraded and I am a novice again
Date: Sat, 22 Sep 2007 09:23:24 -0700

> I find the emacs info pages a pain to navigate compared to searchable,
> indexable html pages derived from indexed xml. That's my bias I guess.
> 
> I was trying to be helpful Eli.

Nothing wrong with your motivation. And, yes, trying to provide a useful index 
(in whatever form) usually requires some human effort and judgment - automatic 
indexing is somewhat limited in practice.

Eli, too, was trying to be helpful - and he was helpful, no? You'll find that 
usually when Eli learns of another possible path to some term or some section 
in an Emacs  manual, he adds it to one or more manual indexes. And he typically 
asks, when someone has difficulty finding information, _how_ they were going 
about it unsuccessfully, in order to try to improve the search process and 
indexing. In this case, he will no doubt add some terms to accomodate your 
quandary. You need only make it clear what you are searching for and how you 
went about it.

You are right that it can be problematic (and useful!) to collect user input 
about what should perhaps be new index entries. Only a certain number of users 
will use address@hidden and let others know about their frustrated attempts to 
look something up. But if a user does raise the question here, Eli will usually 
respond and take the user's quest into consideration. 

You could also create a page on EmacsWiki to collect such keywords: 
http://www.emacswiki.org/cgi-bin/wiki/SiteMap. Then, either Eli or some other 
Emacs developer might occasionally check what has been added there, or you or 
someone else could occasionally post here any new entries that are collected 
there. Emacs Wiki is an incredible collaborative resource, and it's low-key, 
dumb-easy to use.

As frequenters of this list and address@hidden will attest, Eli and I don't 
always agree ;-), but followup to improve the manual indexes is one area (there 
are others) where I think he does a terrific job. The point here is that your 
proposal to collect unsuccessful user search attempts, synonyms and the like 
can be plugged into the existing mechanisms such as manual indexes, and Eli is 
quite helpful in this regard.

Wrt difficulty navigating Emacs Info pages: try Icicles - 
http://www.emacswiki.org/cgi-bin/wiki/Icicles. Command `icicle-Info-index' (`i' 
in Info) lets you easily navigate index entries, and command 
`icicle-Info-goto-node' (`g' in Info) lets you easily browse Info nodes. They 
let you type a substring or other regexp and zip around all index terms or node 
names that match, in any order. See 
http://www.emacswiki.org/cgi-bin/wiki/Icicles_-_Info_Enhancements.

And (no relation with Icicles) with Emacs 22, you can use incremental search 
throughout a manual. If something has no index entry, try repeated `C-s'. Then 
let help-gnu-emacs know if you think what you were looking for should be added 
to the index.

Wrt "indexable html pages derived from indexed xml": It's not a bad idea, and 
it has been discussed before by Emacs development contributors. Info is 
currently not XML or HTML based, and a move in such a direction is not trivial. 
But all ideas and implementation and design efforts are appreciated - 
address@hidden






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