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Re: General complaint about GNU's preference for "info" versus "man"

From: Eli Zaretskii
Subject: Re: General complaint about GNU's preference for "info" versus "man"
Date: Sat, 22 Apr 2006 18:23:00 +0300

> From: Torsten Bronger <address@hidden>
> Date: Sat, 22 Apr 2006 16:55:01 +0200
> > Guys, you are reinventing the wheel: there is already a
> > centralized place to describe all the advertised options: the
> > Invocation node of the Texinfo manual.
> That's right by and large, but it's not that simple in my opinion.
> The structure of a Texinfo file is not as strict as that of a
> manpage.

Maybe so, but the Invocation node is supposed to present the same
information as the man page.  How about if you actually look at some
examples and report the results?

> Some Info documents don't have an Invocation node

Which ones?  The GNU coding standards _require_ each manual to have
such a node, although its name could be one of several alternatives
("info --usage" knows about all of them, and then some, and should
find that node regardless).

If a manual has no node that describes the command-line options,
that's a documentation bug that should be reported to the package

> or it is buried as a subnode.

Why is this detail important?  "info --usage" finds it anyway, in most

> Although I love Info, I always call man when I need quick
> information.

Well, perhaps next time you could try "info --usage" and see if by
sheer chance it suits your needs with a similar degree of success.

Alternatively, if you already tried that and have some constructive
criticism, please share it.

> Apparently I'm not the only one.  Thus, I think that its approach
> has its merits.

I suspect that most people still use man pages out of ignorance: they
simply don't know about "info --usage".  If I'm right, then this says
nothing about the merits and demerits of Info vs man pages.

> Maybe one could add man's strength to Info?  I'm not competent in
> Info's internals, but perhaps makeinfo could compile a meta node
> that comprises by and large a manpage, and a special info invocation
> like "qinfo myprogram" displays it.

You are describing "info --usage", it does _precisely_ that.  And it
does so without any need for specialized makeinfo option; thus, it
will work with already installed manuals, whereas a special makeinfo
option, if we decide to add it, will require that the manuals be

> Alternatively, Info itself could do that on the fly.  (This would
> work only with Texinfo files with certain standard nodes one has to
> agree upon before, of course.)

Again, the standard for such nodes already exists (although some
packages don't abide by it 100%), and the necessary Info feature to do
this on the fly was coded long ago.  All we need is convince people to
use it more; a necessary first step would be for us to start using it

Today seems like a good day to start.

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