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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: Tue, 23 Dec 2014 20:25:46 +0200

> Date: Mon, 22 Dec 2014 23:32:39 -0800
> From: Paul Eggert <address@hidden>
> CC: Eli Zaretskii <address@hidden>, Tom <address@hidden>, 
>  Emacs-Devel devel <address@hidden>
> 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

It is generally advisable to have in each node an index entry which
matches that node's name or the name of its section.  There are 880
nodes in the ELisp manual, out of which 116, including "Time of Day",
didn't follow that rule (they do now) -- not bad for "samizdat"!

> and why did Emacs insist on changing "time" to "timestamp" and then
> getting lost?

That's our smart completion at work for you, nothing related to Info
in particular.  Feel free to file a bug report.

Anyway, when index search fails for the phrase you type (and you
should try more than one, like 2 or 3 before you give up), what I
normally do is back up a little and use a shorter phrase.  In this
case, I'd type "i time TAB", and that probably would have been enough
in this case to show you what you are after, among a short enough list
of candidates.

Failing that (which would already warrant a bug report), ...

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

...I'd use the Info equivalent of that, "s time of day RET", which
would have instantaneously found you what you were after.  Info also
knows how to search for a string (or regexp).

> 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.

I see no evidence here of Google being better for this particular
task.  You just gave up too soon, that's all.

Granted, Info does not pretend to be a sophisticated search engine
anywhere near Google.  But for the job it needs to do it is quite
adequate, and this example shows that clearly, even though it exposed
a (temporary) weakness in our indexing.

And of course, I agree with Drew: no one said you should use either
Google or Info; that is a red herring.

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