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Re: [ELPA] New package: transient

From: Philippe Vaucher
Subject: Re: [ELPA] New package: transient
Date: Sat, 2 May 2020 13:47:35 +0200

> If I take that entry manual and then toggle read only and then "M-x keep-lines -- function" I end up with:
>  -- Function: assoc key alist &optional testfn
>  -- Function: rassoc value alist
>  -- Function: assq key alist
>  -- Function: alist-get key alist &optional default remove testfn
>  -- Function: rassq value alist
>  -- Function: assoc-default key alist &optional test default
>  -- Function: copy-alist alist
>  -- Function: assq-delete-all key alist
>  -- Function: assoc-delete-all key alist
>  -- Function: rassq-delete-all value alist
> That's what I would like to get out of the manual easily.

I fail to see how will the above list be useful, if you know nothing
about the function's name.  E.g., a newbie that has no previous Lisp
baggage will never be able to guess that assq should have anything to
do with association lists.  They will need the text keep-lines removes.

But I'm not a newbie! I don't use Emacs lisp enough to remember all the details all the time, but I know what I'm looking for when I see it.

So maybe you should make your argument more concrete by saying what
you did know in this case.  My proposal to use Info-index was based on
the assumption that you knew nothing except that the function was
about alists.  In another message you said that you actually knew the
function will include "copy" and "alist" somewhere in its name, so I
suggested a different command that is better for that use case.

Yes, there is a lot of different use cases. Sorry for that.

IOW, for each use case there's the best tool, and there are others
which are good, but not the best.  For example, even if you did go to
the above manual section, why would you need to generate the list of
functions?  "C-s copy" finds copy-alist as the first hit.  So even
being presented with a relatively long (290 lines) section in the
manual, finding what you want in that section is a matter of seconds.
I fail to see the problem.

That's for the case where you search for "copy", yes. That does not cover the "overview" aspect.

> Over 95% of my documentation search is just that (quickly looking at a list of functions). I'm fluent in many
> languages already, I don't need a regexp (or whatever) introduction with detailed explanations. I just want to
> find how to do a regexp match and extract the results. When I fall on
> https://www.gnu.org/software/emacs/manual/html_node/elisp/Regexp-Search.html it takes way too much
> reading to find `string-match`, and this page doesn't even mention `match-string`! That means I have to do
> another search and find
> https://www.gnu.org/software/emacs/manual/html_node/elisp/Simple-Match-Data.html. I'm sure that if you
> put yourself in my shoes you'd be able to understand my frustration.

I cannot put myself in your shoes unless you describe the situation
more completely.  Specifically, what _did_ you know about string-match
and match-string, and which topics relevant to these would be in your
opinion relevant for looking up those functions?  Then we could
continue having a useful discussion, one where the results are that we
improve Emacs, including in ways other than those you thought about.

E.g., based on what _I_ have in mind in the above situation, I'd first
try "i regexp TAB" in the ELisp manual, see nothing pertinent, then
try "match TAB", and voila! I see match-data and match-string.

I'm not sure it'd be useful. I gave plenty of examples and at this point either my way of functionning is broken or you simply never function like I do so you don't see the problem.

> My point is that "C-h d alist" is not sufficient to find assq or assoc, thus while a useful tool it's not very
> efficient.

You don't know me very well, do you?  Try "C-h d alist" in a recent
development snapshot, and I think you will see those functions there.
I fixed that within 5 minutes of your saying that those functions
couldn't be found by "C-h d".

So, my point *was* valid two days ago. How many other topics of Emacs are still affected tho?

> Maybe I'm asking for too much, or maybe my way of functionning is "wrong" in the Emacs Lisp world. I'm
> curious, please tell me more about how you function, maybe Emacs Lisp is your most used language so you
> know it all by heart? How often do you popup the manual, and how often do you use "C-h f"?

I think by now you should already know the answer.  I have the ELisp
manual open in a dedicated frame at all times, and I consult it all
the time.  I use "C-h f" only if I think I know the function's name
quite accurately, and the same with "C-h v" and variables.

I'll try this for a while and see how it goes.


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