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Re: Texinfo help, please

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: Texinfo help, please
Date: Fri, 13 Jul 2012 08:01:52 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/24.1.50 (gnu/linux)

Graham Percival <address@hidden> writes:

> On Wed, Jul 11, 2012 at 10:45:24PM +0200, David Kastrup wrote:
>> Graham Percival <address@hidden> writes:
>> > Hmm.  So there's absolutely no way to get
>> >
>> > ----------- linewidth ------
>> > from some kind of
>> > emergency-stretch-tweak
>> > ----------- linewidth ------
>> >
>> > ?  that's a shame.
>> If you want a non-stretching break-opportunity before some construct,
> Sorry, I should have specified "absolutely no way to get ---
> without any mixing of content and layout commands".  I think we
> should minimize any layout-specific commands in our docs.

It's not like you could not put this into the @file macro.  It would
just mean that if TeX breaks before the file, the line above will be
short.  Which is what you stated you wanted.

> I've spent a few minutes here and there looking at
> and doing google searches, and I feel a bit
> let down.  The answers are consistently "you can manually add a
> line-break, you can change the hyphenation with \sloppy, or you
> can reword your sentences".

A few years ago, I was at a climbers' weekend in the Eifel.  I got a
phone call on my mobile, talked for a while, and after the call I
apologetically explained that I was doing the LaTeX support for my ex in
the final throws of her PhD thesis.  One climber quipped that she knew
someone who was able to do this better.  I was intrigued and asked who
he was.  Because I was pretty sure I'd know him personally.  It turned
out that this guy had the qualification of having written his whole
thesis with LaTeX.  Cough, cough.

Go to the last errata for the TeXbook.
Search for my name.  There are not all that many mentioned by name in
the TeXbook's "Dirty Tricks" appendix for significant improvements over
Knuth's zero-day code.  You'll also find that most programmatic uses of
\romannumeral in TeX packages can be traced back to some suggestion of
mine.  And if you look at the last published errata for "TeX the
Program" itself, you'll also find it hard to avoid noticing that there
is some name mentioned repeatedly...

What I am getting at is that the likelihood that Google searches for
random information somebody uttered at some time anywhere will turn up
better information about what or what may not be possible using TeX than
you are able to get from me is not all that high.  If we can rely on a
more or less recent version of PDFTeX to be available, there are a few
more parameters not in the original TeX that one can tweak (like using
slightly larger fonts or interletter spacing to make additional room).
But that only shifts the threshold until things break down.

> It's the last that really bugs me.  :(

It's what Knuth himself did when writing the TeXbook.

> Anyway, my current understanding is that there are three realistic
> options:
> 1)
> ----------- linewidth ------
> from    some     kind     of
> emergency-stretch-tweak
> ----------- linewidth ------

With the stretch consolidated over several lines usually.

> 3)
> manually reword any sentence including a @file{} which would
> produce an overfull hbox.

Again, that's the choice of Knuth himself.

> Phil's patch currently does #2 and #3.  I am not fond of those
> options, since it means that we need to take extra care when
> writing or editing docs.  I would rather see #1.
> Thoughts, objections?

Long words should be arranged to be close to paragraph start (in the
first line) or far from the paragraph start (several lines) or in a
displayed block.  Everything else is hoping for magic to happen.  That's
just physical restraints of typesetting, nothing specific to TeX.

David Kastrup

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