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Re: Emacs setup assistants

From: Ted Zlatanov
Subject: Re: Emacs setup assistants
Date: Wed, 19 May 2004 11:29:20 -0400
User-agent: Gnus/5.110003 (No Gnus v0.3) Emacs/21.3.50 (gnu/linux)

On 19 May 2004, address@hidden wrote:

> is there something to be gained by having the whole Texinfo
> machinery available?  

For the writer, Texinfo is well-supported by Emacs already, and it is
easy to write and parse visually (unlike XML, which was also

For the parser, the "special" assistant Texinfo data can be separated
easily from the rest of the document with existing Texinfo
conventions (@ifassistant ... @end ifassistant).  If all the Texinfo
commands were available, that would make writing assistants easier in

> Conversion into HTML (with Active-E controls?  Implemented via
> emcasclient or natively in emacs-w3m?  Or just with copy&paste
> recipes to feed into an inferior Lisp buffer), into printable
> manuals, into fast accessible info pages?
> The info pages, of course, would be extended with controls for
> configuring stuff.

I think assistant conversion to HTML is a waste of time at this
point, because a) Emacs has all the widgets it needs, and b) the
assistants, as proposed by Lars, are ELisp-oriented.  The other
options sound useful in the abstract sense, but they are all just
different renderings of the same data model.

> Now it would obviously be _much_ more helpful if we had some window
> with an example file open, and we had active buttons in the info text
> that made a certain setting and reran preview-latex on the example
> window, showing the effects of each change immediately.  When done,
> we could press a button for saving the changes.

I think everyone can agree on this :)

> Also, one would want a certain integration with customize.

Absolutely, but I think that variables local to the assistant should
also be allowed.  For instance, if the user was choosing between 4
non-exclusive options that could take him down different paths, the
variable to hold the list of options would be convenient but not
necessarily at the global customize level (it would be just a 'set in
this case).

> In short: I think there are a lot of synergies one could gain from
> getting some mechanisms for a closer coupling of the info/Texinfo
> system with Emacs.  The relevant file format need not be info, but
> the ability to get printed and HTML versions at least for
> informational purposes should not lightly be dismissed.



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