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

From: Paul Eggert
Subject: Re: Have you all gone crazy? Was: On being web-friendly and why info must die
Date: Mon, 22 Dec 2014 23:32:39 -0800
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:31.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/31.3.0

Drew Adams wrote:
You can do both: file bug reports and search the Internet.

Sure, but there are good reasons that searching is way more popular than filing bug reports. Although traditional indexed manuals needn't be discarded if already written, other ways of navigating through Emacs are increasingly cost-effective, and this suggests that we should shift some of our limited development resources away from the tedium of writing and indexing the manuals. This shifting is already happening, and it's something we should welcome rather than decry.

Composite glyphs are admittedly a poorly-documented topic in the Emacs manuals, so here's an example using a well-documented topic. Let's say I want the time of day in Emacs. If I visit the Elisp manual in info mode and type 'i time of day RET' Emacs responds "No `timestamp of day' in index" (there's that ugly 1980s-style quoting again!) and fails, even though there's a perfectly good section called "Time of Day" in the Elisp manual -- what's up with that and why did Emacs insist on changing "time" to "timestamp" and then getting lost?

In contrast, the Google search 'Emacs "time of day"' yields a first hit that's precisely what's needed.

This was the very first example I tried while writing this email -- it's not a contrived example. I hope it helps to explain why search engines are far more popular for this sort of thing. It's not merely that users know search engines better than they know Emacs info mode. It's that the search engines are typically better for most users.

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