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RE: Info tutorial is out of date

From: Drew Adams
Subject: RE: Info tutorial is out of date
Date: Mon, 17 Jul 2006 09:37:58 -0700

    It's not primary about technologically
    or physically disabled people, or about some stubborn mouse-haters --
    it's about teaching beginners how to use emacs (or in this case info)
    in an efficient way.

    It's true, that most beginners nowadays know how to use a mouse, and
    it might be also true, that most of them expect things to work by
    pointing and clicking, _but_ that's not what we should teach them,
    because it's not the best (fastest, efficient, most flexible) way to
    do it.

I think everyone agrees that:

1. We should not teach users how to use the mouse to navigate.

2. We should not teach users that using the mouse is the best way to go.

3. We should tell users that using the keyboard is quicker than using the

The question is whether the tutorial should start by teaching you how to
navigate with the keyboard.

    Emacs is a very powerful tool (as we all know), enabling new users to
    experience this power IMO means to teach them how to do it the best
    way from the beginning.

What's "the beginning"?  Unlike the jesuits, we don't get most new users
"from the beginning", unfortunately.

The question is whether it is more important to start the Info tutorial with
Info features, or start it with a tutorial on navigating the Info structure
with the keyboard. That's the issue we're debating, so far (hopefully, we'll
eventually move on to discuss what are the important Info features, and how
best to present them).

To me, structural navigation is not the goal; it is a means to achieve the
goal, which is getting info from a manual (whether quick look-up or
front-to-back reading).

The question is whether or not teaching structural navigation is a
prerequisite to teaching Info features. If not, it can be taught afterward,
if it is taught at all.

I claim that it is not a prerequisite for the vast majority of newbies,
because they can navigate using the mouse (which they are used to and
comfortable with). Structural navigation needs no teaching - it's obvious.

Since it is not a prerequisite to teach structural navigation, and it is not
the goal, let's relegate it to the end of the tutorial, as a Performance
Enhancement lesson. Though it's not needed to access information, it is
useful, so let's include it, but not at the start.

    Learning something new is always harder than sticking with old
    habits, but it can be very enlightening, too.  :-)

The "something new" that we really want to teach in the Info tutorial is how
to get to information that is in the manual; it is not teaching people that
the keyboard is better than the mouse.

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