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

From: Yuri Khan
Subject: Re: Have you all gone crazy? Was: On being web-friendly and why info must die
Date: Mon, 22 Dec 2014 12:25:19 +0700

On Mon, Dec 22, 2014 at 9:54 AM, Lennart Borgman
<address@hidden> wrote:

>>> Users want to get the information fast and it is much faster to
>>> search for something in google than trying to find the relevant
>>> section of the manual.
>> That's simply incorrect, if you use the 'i' command in Info, which is
>> the main way of searching an Info manual.
> That is perhaps more an opinion? I definitively think users who know
> Google search well can find the information very quickly that way. And
> new users - who we want to help, of course - probably are very good at
> that.

I use Google to search for information about Emacs, unless I know
exactly what I’m looking for.

E.g. I use <f1> k and <f1> f and <f1> v, and to a lesser extent <f1>
w, to ask Emacs itself about a particular key, function, variable or
command when I know the name exactly or well enough to use completion.
In these cases, I want authoritative information.

On the other hand, when my question is more like “How do I <do X> in
Emacs”, I’m not specifically looking for a page in the Emacs manual.
Rather, I want a page in the manual, plus a range of ways how other
people do X, and a range of opinions on why X is the wrong thing to
want to do. Google gives me that. Info doesn’t. *By searching with
Google, I extend the scope of my search beyond the Emacs manual.*

Additionally, the HTML rendition of the Emacs manual is more
convenient to read for me, because of these differences:

* The HTML version wraps to the size of my browser. The Info version
is hard-wrapped for 72 columns.
* The HTML version uses my preferred proportional font for prose and
my preferred monospace font for code. The Info version is monospace
throughout, except for headings.
* The HTML version uses text styles to highlight different kinds of
text (keys, commands, paths, arguments, etc.). The Info version uses
the spacing grave accent and the straight single quote and all-caps
* The HTML version uses typographic quotes “”. The Info version uses
straight quotes "".

To summarize the above, the HTML version “feels like” an electronic
version of a well-typeset printed book. The Info version feels like an
electronic version of a samizdat book typed on a typewriter.
*Readability counts.*

* Firefox provides pixelwise autoscrolling on middle mouse button, and
opens links in new tabs when middle-clicked. Emacs Info has no
pixelwise scrolling, no autoscrolling, and prefers to have no more
than one *info* buffer.

Replacing the Info output format with HTML and replacing the Emacs
Info browser with an Emacs HTML-Info browser might help with the
readability issue. Improving the Emacs display engine might provide a
better reading experience. But the search scope issue requires an
all-encompassing Web search engine.

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