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Re: Divergence in menu appearance between Emacs Info and standalone Info

From: Kim F. Storm
Subject: Re: Divergence in menu appearance between Emacs Info and standalone Info
Date: 06 Jun 2003 02:11:48 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.09 (Gnus v5.9.0) Emacs/21.3.50

"Robert J. Chassell" <address@hidden> writes:

>    I gather the default is to hide the node names.  
> Yes.  This is and has been a mistake.  It harms GNU documentation.

I don't see how it can harm documentation to make it easier to read!

And IMO the traditional *Note format definitely doesn't make info
documents easy to read.

I agree that good node references are very important when reading
documentation searching for specific information, but if you are
reading larger sections of the manual in a sequential manner, you
shouldn't really care about node references, and in that context, the
elaborate note references are _very_ disturbing to the normal reading
flow.  Replacing them with "(see XXX)" is much less disctractive IMO.

And the "(see XXX)" references are IMO perfectly adequate also when
searching through documentation for a specific feature ... personally,
I don't care a bit about what section of the manual the information
I'm searching for is written -- as long as I can get there with a
single click on the hyperlink.

With users (including myself) becoming more and more used to web
browsers, the traditional "info way" of presenting references looks
old-fashioned, and is IMHO a real obstackle to a "natural reading
flow".  That's why I implemented the node hiding feature.

I strongly prefer seeing something like this when looking at a web

 For more information, see _tips_and_tricks_.

rather than

 For more information, URL: http://www.gnu.org/info/emacs/tips-and-tricks.html

I have tried to read your arguments against the node hiding, but I
really don't understand what's so bad about it.

> The surface expression of Info should reflect its deep representation
> more closely than a printed surface expression.  Quite simply, it is
> dangerous to provide a online manual that does not tell users
> implicitly that node names are more important than section titles.

That structure is an important topic for the author of the info file
(making it easy for the user to navigate), but I really don't see why
the user has to be bothered seeing that structure.

> Rather than hide node names, it would make more sense to modify Info
> to hide section titles than the reverse.

Could be.  I admit that I looked at the info files _as a user_, and as
such, I took the part of the nodes that looked most useful to me.  I
probably found the section names too verbose for my personal taste...

And I haven't had problems with the result so far...  

Kim F. Storm <address@hidden> http://www.cua.dk

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