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Re: Fwd: version vs edition numbers in Emacs manuals

From: Paul Eggert
Subject: Re: Fwd: version vs edition numbers in Emacs manuals
Date: Thu, 14 Nov 2019 11:42:09 -0800
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:68.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/68.2.0

On 11/14/19 4:18 AM, Eli Zaretskii wrote:

I didn't see John's response, not sure why.  Can someone forward it to

Sure, here it is:

Paul Eggert <address@hidden> writes:

On 11/10/19 6:25 PM, John Sullivan wrote:
Can you fill me in more on how they are messed up? Thanks for your help.

For example, the FSF bookstore web page
currently advertises the GNU Emacs 26.1 manual as the "18th edition,
v. 26.1" and the spine of the printed manual says "Eighteenth edition
for GNU Emacs version 26.1".

In contrast, the online manual
<https://www.gnu.org/software/emacs/manual/emacs.html> says on its
title page "Seventeenth Edition, Updated for Emacs Version 26.3". That
is, the online manual says it is for an *earlier* manual edition, but
for a *later* Emacs version, than the printed manual.

The edition number is incorrect and misleading, since the online
manual is in fact more up-to-date than the printed manual. So I'd like
to remove the edition number from the online manual. That way, the
online manual won't have incorrect information, and the people
printing the book can use whatever edition number they like without
having to coordinate with the Emacs developers.

That makes sense to me. The Emacs developers do prepare the print
version for us. We might like to keep an online version that matches the
print version. So maybe the solution could be to have two online
versions, one that corresponds to print and is only updated when a new
print version is made, and the other is the one that the developers with
each release or whenever they feel is appropriate? And that latter
version would not have any edition number. We wouldn't have any problem
with the primary canonical manual link
(https://www.gnu.org/software/emacs/manual/emacs.html) being used for
the online-only version. What do you think?

Getting back to Eli's email:

we should have a separate target in the Makefile, and we should maintain
the last printed edition in some separate file, because no one will
remember that otherwise.

A separate Makefile target would be fine, but the separate file should be something that the FSF Press maintains. Having the edition numbers be in a file that Emacs developers maintain would continue to cause glitches like the ones noted above. The FSF Press is downstream from developers, they generate edition numbers at their convenience not developers', and they can and should be the ones who keep track of the edition numbers that they maintain.

The fact that some manuals use EDITION while others use VERSION also
doesn't make this very clean, IMO.

Yes, that area could easily be made more systematic. For example, we could systematically use just EDITION and DATE for all the FSF Press-maintained info.

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