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Re: Have you all gone crazy? Was: On being web-friendly and why info mus

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: Have you all gone crazy? Was: On being web-friendly and why info must die
Date: Sat, 20 Dec 2014 12:35:31 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/25.0.50 (gnu/linux)

"Stephen J. Turnbull" <address@hidden> writes:

> David Kastrup writes:
>  > There is actually another hidden hurdle that has not been
>  > mentioned: the target format "Info" is not independent from the
>  > manual's organization of content: content is organized into
>  > node-sized chunks, with a somewhat hierarchical organization
>  > intended to make all non-bottom nodes fit on a screen if feasible
>  > in order to make navigation fast.
> I don't think this is a big problem, though.  I don't see any reason
> why the organization into "nodes" or "pages" (as in the original
> intent of *nix "man page") would change.  It's the obvious way (at
> least to me) to provide modularity in documentation to correspond to
> the modularity of the program.

Well, a lot of the complaints of people preferring man pages over info
pages significantly concern the organization of the _content_ rather
than a problem with the format.

The whole Git documentation is still available as Info manuals (thanks
to some Makefile targets and Docbook2x), but it is not really
_structurally_ Info-like material.

Perl documentation is structured into man pages, and this really strains
the concept, basically plastering chapters of a single manual across
separate man pages.

>  > However, this kind of "fast" implies that not every following of a
>  > link requires substantial time fetching and rerendering pages.
>  > HTML (let alone http and the Internet) is not intended for fast
>  > flipping back and forth between independent pages, and the HTML
>  > browsers are not supposed to deal with humongous pages comprising a
>  > whole manual either.
> Sorry, David, but this is a *plus*, not a *minus*.  The Emacs manuals
> will continue to be distributed with Emacs.  Users with a full Emacs
> installed (OK, Debian users won't get them in the default "free"
> distribution) will have local access to the manuals.  Local access is
> plenty fast whether broken up into multiple files or as a single large
> file, as applications like S5 prove.

For mostly text-centric stuff, maybe.  But that's what the HTML fans
loudly claim to be uncool.

Stuff like
is painful to scroll around even locally loaded.

> I can't testify to "humongous" files (eg, the Emacs Lisp manual), but
> historically those have been divided for Info presentation, too.

Once you work on the divided HTML form, finding stuff via plain text
search and/or index gets really painful.  And jumping around several
files refetches and rerenders them all the time.

David Kastrup

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