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

From: Eli Zaretskii
Subject: Re: Have you all gone crazy? Was: On being web-friendly and why info must die
Date: Mon, 22 Dec 2014 20:48:01 +0200

> Date: Tue, 23 Dec 2014 01:26:20 +0700
> From: Yuri Khan <address@hidden>
> Cc: Lennart Borgman <address@hidden>, Tom <address@hidden>, 
>       Emacs developers <address@hidden>
> On Mon, Dec 22, 2014 at 9:43 PM, Eli Zaretskii <address@hidden> wrote:
> >> I use Google to search for information about Emacs, unless I know
> >> exactly what I’m looking for.
> >
> > That's a mistake.  The Info's 'i' command is precisely the means to
> > use when you do NOT know exactly what you are looking for.  I urge you
> > to try that next time: at 'i's prompt type some word or phrase that
> > you think relates to the subject you are after, and see what happens.
> This is limited to the features that are currently installed. The
> question “how do I do X” does not always mean “how do I do X using
> features I already have installed” — rather frequently it means “what
> can I install in order to do X”.

That's a far cry from your original statement, see above.  I'm
guessing that Emacs belongs to the features that are installed on your
system, yes?

> > The Info manuals are indexed up front with this usage pattern in mind,
> > and you'd be surprised how efficient this search can be.  Well, with
> > good manuals, anyway.  (Emacs manuals are good.)  We add index entries
> > all the time to continuously improve the indexing.
> What good is an efficient search facility if it is limited to good manuals?

Are we still talking about Emacs here?  Because that's what this
discussion is about, right?  Solving the problems of the rest of the
world might take a little longer.

> I program in several languages, not only and not primarily Elisp. I
> want to have a single search habit which works for all languages,
> libraries and tools that I use. Typing “gg <tool name> <feature>” into
> my Firefox’s address bar gives me that. Info, only if the relevant
> Info manuals exist, are installed and contain the information I want.

Suit yourself, but IME limiting your habits to a single tool will
yield a limited solution.  This area is not yet developed enough to
have one-fits-all solutions, so using the best tool for each job is
still better.

> I know the value of a good index and I miss them. But unless all
> tools I need to use come with Info manuals, I will still have to
> search the Web.

Yes, you will.  I see no problems with that.  There will always be
dark corners not described in any manual.

> > I encourage you (or anyone else) to enhance info.el, which will remove
> > or hide the newlines from the explanatory text, and then use word-wrap
> > and wrap-prefix to get the same effect as you see in HTML browsers.
> > (Not that I understand why it would be more readable to have the
> > description in 200-column lines, but if someone wants such a feature,
> > why not?)  The only not-entirely-trivial part here is to identify the
> > lines where the newlines should be kept, like examples, list items,
> > etc.  But there are enough clues in the text to identify those, in the
> > same manner as we identify the section headings.
> You are suggesting that I solve a backward problem — inferring
> structure given a hard-wrapped text rendition. And, as much as I can
> infer without reading the Info source, it’s all like that — first
> render to an unparseable format, then heuristically infer structure.
> Why do that when it’s possible to just not lose structural information
> at all?

You could start with HTML output of makeinfo, if that makes the job
easier.  I don't think anyone will mind.

> >> * 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.
> >
> > Likewise: should be easy to do this for Info.  Patches are welcome.
> I might do that *if* Info were sufficiently better for me than
> Google-indexed HTML. As it stands, it is not.

Why not?  Above you didn't give any arguments for that, you just said
that you'll need Google anyway.

> >   . "how do I do SOMETHING?"
> >   . "what is THAT-THING?"
> >   . "look for SUBJECT but excluding THIS-CRAP"
> >
> > etc.  Bonus points for maintaining a database of user-specific
> > preferences and personal style of queries, and applying that to future
> > queries.
> >
> > Interested?
> Might be a good research project for a candidate dissertation in
> linguistics/programming. Requires much more time than I’m prepared to
> invest; sorry.

Sigh.  If the time and energy wasted on these endless discussions why
Emacs and Info are so bad were used for development, we might have
been there already.

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