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Re: Documentation for "Clone Buffers" (corrected version)

From: Stefan Monnier
Subject: Re: Documentation for "Clone Buffers" (corrected version)
Date: 19 Mar 2004 12:31:07 -0500
User-agent: Gnus/5.09 (Gnus v5.9.0) Emacs/21.3.50

>> IIRC, Emacs's Info reader already allows the `dir' file to contain several
>> nodes, just like any other Info package.

> That would not solve the problem at hand, since the reader looks for
> the command-line argument in the DIR _node_, not in DIR the file.

Indeed, I was just pointing out that part of the requirement is already met
and we'd "only" need to extend the search to look at all the nodes in
the file.

>> Another alternative is to have Info do an index search on some of the
>> entries if nothing was found in the `dir' file.

> We could try that, but I'm not sure it will do what users want to be
> done.  Index entries normally include many items that have no relation
> to function names; about the only exception to this rule is a library
> reference, and even then it's only true for the function index (what
> about concept and other indices?).

Well, it could lookup the main menu of those packages instead of their
index, if that's what you prefer.  MY main point is that instead of copying
all those entries into the `dir' file it would be better to have a way to
say "and look at these other nodes as well", so you can update a libc manual
without going through the pain of figuring out which entries are obsolete
(another problem with the way the `dir' file is built right now).

BTW, my experience with my own `info' script is that using indices rather
than main menus works fairly well (i.e. the extraneous entries are not
bothersome).  But it's admittedly a very small experience and it was a few
years ago.

>> BTW, why does `info FOO BAR' only look for BAR in the menu of FOO instead
>> of (or additionally to) looking for it in the Index?

> The actual feature is more general.  If you say
>          info PACKAGE FOO BAR BAZ

Sure, but if menu entry BAR does not exist in FOO it may still make sense to
look for it in the index.

> In other words, if you know the menu path to the node, you can get to it
> like that without knowing the node names.  For a typical libc, "info libc
> index strcpy" will show the section taht describes strcpy (as will
> probably "info -n strcpy", but for the latter you need to be sure the node
> is called "strcpy", not something like "string functions").

But using the index, you'd just say `info libc strcpy'.  And if you tell
info to include libc's index by default, you can just say `info strcpy'
(without cluttering the dir file).

My model here is `man' where `man FOO' tries to guess in which section the
thing is placed and `man FOO BAR' looks for BAR in section FOO.
`man' is not perfect, but I find this aspect of man's interface to work
about as well as I can hope: short and precise.  The only problem I've had
with it is in the `man FOO' short form because it looks in all chapters,
but nowadays you can choose the search order of the various chapters.


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