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Tutorials and Demos (Re: The minibuffer vs. Dialog Boxes (Re: Making XEm

From: Samuel Mikes
Subject: Tutorials and Demos (Re: The minibuffer vs. Dialog Boxes (Re: Making XEmacs be more up-to-date)
Date: Tue, 23 Apr 2002 14:10:21 -0600

Brady> 3. I want demos or examples. For some things, just having a
Brady> little sandbox buffer seeded with apropriate text would be

Brady> Obviously, demos/examples are very specific, and would
Brady> probably be written by the code's authors or other interested
Brady> parties. Having a nice support mechanism for this to make it
Brady> as simple as possible, along with the consensus to move

Brady> What would be totally sweet is if a demo could be hooked up
Brady> with customize. Have one frame with my customize options, and
Brady> another with my demo. change this option, rerun, change that,
Brady> try again, etc.

Brady> And yes, I'd be happy to help write it.

  I hacked up something in this line.  You can see the c-mode
tutorial that I'm working on as an example:


  The tutorial code embeds pushbutton widgets in the tutorial
buffer.  The syntax is very simple but should be sufficient for
simple tutorials; I wrote some helper functions to pop up example
buffers.  For example, you could make a pushbutton run
(customize-variable 'c-default-style).

  I have tested it on XEmacs 21.4 on msw and tty.  I don't currently
have a modern GNU Emacs, but I believe GNU Emacs >19 comes with
widget and wid-edit, so it should work.

  My original motivation for writing this particular tutorial comes
from helping with an undergrad intro programming course some years
ago.  The students would sit down at a Windows box and telnet to the
unix machine.  They'd start emacs to write some code, then kill
emacs, compile the code, memorize the line number of the first syntax
error, restart emacs, fix the syntax error, kill emacs, ...

  If tutorials like this would be useful, (some of) the next
questions are:

 o What would make the tutorial easier to use?
 o What needs to happen for them to be distributed with Emacs/XEmacs?
 o What is a good way to guide users towards the tutorials?

I don't think a talking paperclip would be appropriate, but maybe the
first time you enter c-mode, a prompt such as:

"This is the first time you've used c-mode.  Would you like to see a
short tutorial about writing C in Emacs? (yes/no/Never offer me a
tutorial again) "

Please send comments/criticism on the tutorial to address@hidden
Sam Mikes

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