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Re: 5-arg xref to Top w/o 3rd arg

From: Patrice Dumas
Subject: Re: 5-arg xref to Top w/o 3rd arg
Date: Thu, 12 Jan 2012 12:47:09 +0100
User-agent: Mutt/

On Wed, Jan 11, 2012 at 04:56:10PM -0800, Karl Berry wrote:
>     I think that it would be even more simple to accept empty first
>     argument, 
> And default to "Top" for the Info output?  I guess it could be done.

I don't think that Info even needs Top.  I think that the Info reader
uses Top when there is only a manual name (in parentheses).  If it is 
not the case, it should anyway (and if there is no Top node, could
default to the first node).

> But if we have @xref{Top,,, info, GNU Info}, I think that should behave
> the same way.  After all, right now all xref's given the first argument
> so it's fairly natural to just remove the "randomly named" third arg and
> leave all else alone.

I see.  Personnally, I would prefer not to have a special case for Top
and rather have people who do not want to have a Top appearing in the output
remove the Top too.

>     when there is a 4rth or fifth argument.  
> I'm concerned specifically about the case of printed manuals (fifth
> arg).  I don't object to handling input like
>   @xref{Top,,, info},
>   @xref{,,,info},
> without any fifth arg in the analogous way, but I don't think it really
> helps much.  In a way, the less we change, the less there is to document :).

I think that not considering the Top node specifically would lead to
a more simple situation and would not lead to a more complex transition.
If the Top node is special this means documenting how it is special
and more complexity, in my opinion.

If the Top node is not made special, there could be a simple sentence 
when someone wants to refer to a manual and not a node in particular, 
to be put in '@node Four and Five Arguments'

 To refer to a manual and not a node or section in particular, the 
 recommended way is to given only a fourth (if there is an info manual)
 and fifth (for the printed manual title) argument to the @xref
 command and leave the other arguments empty.

And then the '@node Top Node Naming' node could be completly dropped.

And I don't think we would really need to document this change as a
special change.  Indeed, nothing would change for current manuals as we just
removed a constraint (that is the first argument always have to
be given), and offer the greatest flexibility, for people who still want 
to have a 'Top' appearing in cross reference in printed and other manuals.

We could just document this change as a change by saying 

 It is now possible to leave out the node argument when referring to an
 external manual (with the fourth and/or fifth argument of reference
 @-commands).  Therefore the recommended way to refer to external manuals
 is now with empty arguments except for the fourth and/or fifth, as in

  @xref{,,,make, The GNU Make Manual}

> So, anyway, I gather you're ok with the idea in general.  I'll work on
> implementing it for TeX.


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