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RE: Info tutorial is out of date

From: Drew Adams
Subject: RE: Info tutorial is out of date
Date: Sun, 16 Jul 2006 10:33:40 -0700

        If you want, the tutorial could be split in two: first
        "What Info Is" (with simple how-to, to get the points across),
        second "How To Use Info Efficiently".

    That is a good idea, in a general sense.  However, I am not sure
    it is really necessary, for the reason below.

                  My point is this: first things first. If I don't
              understand what Info is all about, why would I go through
              the effort of learning and practicing its key bindings?

    Isn't it obvious to everyone what Info is all about?  It's all about
    browsing documentation files.

What's an Info file?

Info is about finding information in a manual. The most important things to
teach are the structure of the manual and how to find info in it. This
means, in particular, pointing out the index, TOC, history list, and
glossary, and taking users through using `i', `s', `l', and `g' (whether by
menu or key).

It's also important to teach that you can exit with `q' and enter again
(with `C-h i') exactly where you left off. This is not obvious, and it
should be part of the tutorial: exit to do something, and come back, from
anywhere in Emacs, with `C-h i'.

It's also important to point out the difference between chronological "back"
(`l') and structural "back" (e.g. up after down, previous after next). It's
also important to teach the key bindings that are not in the menu-bar menu -
SPC and DEL. The normal book structure (up, down, next, previous) needs to
be at least mentioned, because it is not common on, e.g., the Web.

If users learn what main functionalities are available (regexp search, index
lookup, goto a named node, navigate through the history, TOC lookup,
glossary lookup) and how to use them, they've got 90% of what we need to
teach them.

    Menus, and moving up, moving thru a
    series using next and previous, are going to be obvious to anyone that
    has used the WWW very much.

Next and previous are common on the web. The up, down, next, previous book
structure of an Info manual is *not* at all common on the Web. But it is
familiar from books, so it only requires pointing out and mentioning the
book analogy.

    Thus, practically speaking, I think there isn't much to be achieved by
    having a separate easier section which just teaches you "what Info is
    all about".

I don't care whether such info is in a separate section. But, to me, what
Info is for and what you can do with it are what the tutorial should be all
about. The extra section for "how to use keyboard shortcuts to be more
efficient" is the section I would get rid of, if we got rid of one of the
two proposed sections. I don't propose getting rid of it however, just
moving it to the end.

        I also mentioned the need to have specific tutorial
        instruction for those keys (e.g. SPC and DEL) that are *not* so
        obvious. Teaching `n' right away is a waste of time, not because
        `n' is useless, but because there is an
        obvious (if perhaps somewhat slower) way to do the same thing.

    That might be a good point.

        As to the fingers-leaving-the-keyboard argument: That is
        not such a strong argument for Info, where people are reading,
        not editing.

    I agree, that is not a crucial issue for Info.

        1) teach what Info is about, first;
        2) start using the obvious how-to (e.g. links, buttons,
           menu-bar), to teach #1;
        3) teach the non-obvious how-to (e.g. SPC, DEL) also;

    Those three are an idea worth trying.  I have doubts that this would
    be much easier, but there's no harm in trying it out, and maybe the
    results would be good.

        4) don't bother teaching the obvious, if more-efficient,
           how-to (e.g. `n'), except possibly as an efficiency booster,
           after getting the real message across.

    We definitely should teach these commands later on.

I agree (and I use them, always). But what does "teach" mean here? I think
it would be enough to 1) point them out (from the menu-bar menu), 2)
recommend them, for efficiency, and 3) run through using one or two briefly.

    The reason for focusing on n and p rather than SPC and DEL
    is partly historical.  Originally, SPC and DEL only moved
    within a node.

Yes. And n and p were the only ways to get around. They are still the best
ways, but it is easier to get to the important points (to teach those firt)
using the menu-bar or links and navigation buttons to get there.

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