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Re: Info-build-node-completions has an extra `*' node

From: Juri Linkov
Subject: Re: Info-build-node-completions has an extra `*' node
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2008 02:29:19 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/23.0.60 (gnu/linux)

>> Please read the Info manual at (info "(info) Go to node") that says:
>>      The node name `*' specifies the whole file.  So you can
>>      look at all of the current file by typing `g*<RET>' or
>>      all of any other file with `g(FILENAME)*<RET>'.
> I see. Guess I haven't read the Info manual in a long time. Out of
> curiosity, why was this feature added? What is the need that it satisfies?

This feature is from prehistoric times.  It was already in the revision 1.1.

> And why is only `*' written in the mode line as the node name, rather than,
> say, `*** All Nodes ***' or `*** Whole Manual ***' (the `***' or something
> similar indicating that this is not just a node name). I'm afraid that `*'
> is not very noticeable in the mode line. There are already other `*' there,
> so you see, for example, `*info* (emacs) *'.

I guess that's because the name displayed in the mode line should be the
same as provided in the completion for consistency.

> And it is not immediately obvious that the entire manual is in fact visible.
> I thought that it had just revisited the current node, until I scrolled a
> bit and noticed that from the node headers that it was widened.
> Someone falling into this state by accident might well get confused, IMO.
> And `*' is the first completion candidate listed in *Completions*.

Maybe we should add an explanation text to the completion candidate like
e.g. `* (all nodes)'.  And accept also `*' but don't display it in the
completion list.

> It might seem cute that `*' is the name for this pseudo-node (a wildcard,
> presumably), but the behavior and meaning are not obvious. Why `go to node'
> would have an alternative action of `show all nodes' is not clear to me -
> why associate this behavior with `Info-goto-node'? I suppose you'll say that
> that's what we do for wildcards with `find-file'.

Yes, this looks like wildcards.

> It's also not obvious how to get out of this view-whole-raw-info-file mode,
> once you fall into the black hole. Things like `C-l' and `u' (Node has no
> Up) don't help.
> It turns out that using `g' again, and picking some real node name this
> time, will restore Info to its normal self (whew!). There might be
> additional ways to get back to normal; I don't know.
> But I don't think it is obvious, and I do think it is potentially confusing.
> At the very least, a message should inform the user: (a) what has happened,
> and (b) how to get back to normal.

Displaying something like `all nodes' in the mode line would inform about
what has happened, but I have no idea how it could inform how to get back.

Juri Linkov

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