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[Texmacs-dev] Re: Entering macros

From: Ralf Hemmecke
Subject: [Texmacs-dev] Re: Entering macros
Date: Fri, 25 May 2007 22:00:04 +0200
User-agent: Thunderbird (X11/20070326)


first a statement. I am on the free software side and I wrote my last mail not because I wanted to say how bad TeXmacs is, but in the hope that telling my frustrations and their sources to the developers will be some help to improve TeXmacs. I don't think TeXmacs is utterly bad, it just is too hard to learn just from the tutorials. Just another suggestion. What about producing a movie for beginners?

My fault : Shift-Tab is specific to the configuration for which I wrote
the tutorial. But if you add :
 ("S-tab" (toggle-preamble)))

Of course, as a beginner, I don't know where I should add this. I would guess that entering these two lines into a .tm document will not do.

Of course, I was so happy when I found out about this menu entry. Happily enough, such an important thing is burried three mouse clicks away. That should be called "user friendly".

The thing is that this feature should be balanced with its frequency of
used compared to the others. And its not very much used if the users
do not write stylesheets.

Still, if I see the menu, I would have suspected to find that switch under "View". And, by the way, I find that having a menu item "View" and a submenu item Document|View a bit confusing. Unfortunately, I cannot suggest something better since I don't know TeXmacs so well.

Another little detail. When I click (and release the mouse button again) on the menubar a pulldown menu opens. If I then click on another word in the menubar, the first pulldown menu closes, but the one that I just clicked upon, does not open. I need two clicks. Cannot that be changed, or is this deliberate design?

More generally, redefining menus and keyboard layout in TeXmacs
is an easy thing, but we never found somebody sufficiently opinionated
to tell us : "OK, your menus & keyboards are bad, I propose you this
much better configuration". Otherwise, I guess that with a little bit of
user pressure, we would evolve TeXmacs to allow some kind of "skin"
mechanism that users could easily customize.

The possibility to redefine things is not the point. Only experts do this. But until one becomes an expert one has to live with what the developers think is a good

For inputting the macros themselves (i.e., see what they do,
not only their corresponding markup), you must of course
go back to wysiwyg mode, which is the mode when the
markup becomes *active*.

Oh, shouldn't that be in the tutorial that source mode has something to do with being inactive and wysiwyg mode has a connection to active? Don't thing that is completely obvious for a beginner.

No, this thing has to be explained, all the more because the very concept of active and inactive is an important concept of its
> own in computer science.

I have the feeling that you ignore what users/beginners of TeXmacs say.
First, not everyone who wants to use TeXmacs will have studied computer science. Second, "active" / "inactive" are concepts that are not clear. I am not a computer scientist, but can you point me to the definition of these concepts in a ordinary computer science book?

The problem here is that helping people learning TeXmacs is only part
of my job, thus what I did is wrote this tutorial & had people coming in
my office raising questions. Of course, its not exactly the same now that
it should also work across the Internet.

That is what I said in my previous mail. In order to learn TeXmacs, one currently needs an expert sitting close.

I do this all the time, but (sorry to say) TeXmacs is one of the programs that gave me most frustration.

Perhaps we can change that (or perhaps if its already too late for you, we can analyze the roots of your sufferings in order to avoid it
> for the others  ;-)...

See, that is my contribution to open software. I let you know where TeXmacs could/should do better. I think this kind of feedback is important for any program. I am not complaining, I hope you understand that.

OK. I don't remember how exactly I came to that "inactive" statement, but I am unable to just remove the


around the <xyz|aaa|bb>.

Go inside the <inactive|...>, just at the 1st position inside, and then
hit "Ctrl-backspace" (structured delete), and it will remove the surrounding

I would have never guessed that I can press Ctrl-backspace.
But if I do that (my cursor is just after
then I don't get
I get
. I don't find this intuitive.

Further, the macro abc appears on 3 lines. When I entered it, it was just one line. Then I think I pressed ENTER right before the last > and the 3 line thing appeared. I can press BACKSPACE or DEL as often as I want, I don't get the old format back.

Yes, it is impossible to do it.

And why???

Another approach would be to write *yourself* a good documentation,
in such a way that it doesn't remains "utterly hard to learn", as you say.

Do you really believe I could do that? I think I have already contributed a bit to a better documentation. But I cannot write one myself, since I cannot work with TeXmacs. And as you probably saw from my last email, it is not so easy to even describe the problems that I have. You should convince someone near you (whom you explained how to use TeXmacs) to write such a documentation.

Otherwise, if what you need is a "product", there are several other
alternatives to TeXmacs that you can *buy*.

Surely not my direction. I believe in open software otherwise I would not have written my previous mail.

Henri, I never meant to offend you or any other TeXmacs developer. If you nevertheless felt offended in some way, I'd like to say sorry.

All the best

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