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Re: [Help-gsl] New documentation format

From: Mohammad Akhlaghi
Subject: Re: [Help-gsl] New documentation format
Date: Mon, 24 Apr 2017 22:19:01 +0200
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:52.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/52.0

Hi Patrick,

Great! Thank you for continuing support of info for the documentation along with the thorough explanation. This was my primary concern. The thought of not having the GSL manual in Info for horrifying for me! So I am indeed very relieved :-).

I completely understand and respect the reasons described. I just had two comments about the second and fourth points.

Texinfo natively supports cross references (in-document links) within its output PDFs. For example in Gnuastro's PDF manual:

The page numbers in the short and full table of contents are links to the respective page. Cross references are also possible within the text of the manual, both internally and externally. For example in page one of the manual above, under "Introduction", you can click on "Appendix C [GNU Free Documentation License], page 265" and it will take you to the respective page. In the next line, you can click on the URL and a browser will open. If you are linking to other Texinfo generated PDFs within the same directory, it will open the respective PDF and take you to the proper section.

As far as I know this is the default behavior in Texinfo, for example you can see links in these manuals also (among many others):

Regarding actively development, Texinfo is also being actively developed, it is just much more mature (has a more limited scope for simplicity and portability). Its main developers are also acitve TeX Live developers and frequently submit updates. The more frequent Texinfo updates are committed to the GNU Portability Library (Gnulib) Git repository.

I do understand that the choice has been made, I very much respect it. The important thing for me is that the Info manuals will continue (thank you for that). I just thought these comments were necessary for the record/archives.

Thanks again for all the great work on GSL, Gnuastro would not have been possible without it.


On 04/24/2017 08:23 PM, Patrick Alken wrote:
Hello Mohammad,

Thank you for the links - it is impressive what you've accomplished with texinfo for your manual. I decided on sphinx for a few reasons:

1. Out of the box support for equations and images in HTML - I like what you've done with texinfo on this front but still texinfo doesn't natively support this without your modifications. 2. Modern PDF output - sphinx generates a linkable TOC and in-document links which makes it easy to navigate the PDF output - texinfo doesn't put any links in the PDF documents 3. The native source format for sphinx is much simpler and easier to read than texinfo 4. Sphinx is currently being actively developed - I don't think texinfo currently is

Also to answer your question, sphinx is able to produce info output, so we will be providing info files with GSL - this is something many users need so we made sure sphinx could do this before switching.


On 04/24/2017 11:09 AM, Mohammad Akhlaghi wrote:
Dear Patrick,

This is Mohammad Akhlaghi (maintainer of GNU Astronomy Utilities). We heavily rely on GSL in Gnuastro and I use it alot personally also. So I wanted to thank you for all the great work on this important package.

I just wanted to see if future versions of GSL will also ship with the info documentation (in other words, is it possible to get an `info' output from Sphinx and make it installable in the GNU Build style)?

The reason I am asking this is that I do all my development in Emacs and rely mostly on the great `info' documentations of the tools I use like GSL, GLIBC and many other programs/libraries (like Make and AWK also). Since info is offline, easily navigatable without having to move your hands to the touchpad or mouse, and can be used in the the non-GUI environment of the virtual console, it is a really attractive option. Also, since it is installed with the program on the system you can always be sure that your info documentation is the same version as the library/program, but for PDF/HTML, you need to check the version every time.

The default HTML output of Texinfo is indeed not very attractive, I agree. Gnuastro's documentation also heavily uses mathematic equations and also comes with a library. To solve the appearence issues with the default HTML output of Texinfo, in Gnuastro, we have created this small shell script:

and these Texinfo macros to treat mathematical equations differently on different outputs:

A CSS class is also added and we also use MathJax (installed on the GNU servers) for displaying the equations. For example you can see some example pages with equations, figures and library function descrip tions in the links below.

If Javascript is enabled, the equations display very nicely and the webpage viewer/user can also get the TeX/MathML source of the equations to use in their own documents for example (by right-clicking on the equations). MathJax is also configured to work with LibreJS.

I understand that a lot of work has probably gone into the conversion to Sphinx, but just wanted point out how useful info can be and some solutions that exist for making better looking HTML webpages with Texinfo to benefit from both (CLI and GUI) worlds. If you would be willing to reconsider Texinfo, I would be happy/honored to help impelement these features.

In any case, thank you very much for all the great work on GSL,

On 04/24/2017 06:31 PM, Patrick Alken wrote:
Hello all,

Sometime ago it was suggested to switch the GSL documentation from the current texinfo format to sphinx, which has superior HTML and PDF rendering. I thought this was a good idea and so I have now converted the GSL documentation over to sphinx, and a beta version is available at:

I would appreciate if people could take a look at make any suggestions or let me know if you spot any bugs. Perhaps everyone could read through their favorite chapter and make sure the formulas and figures all look ok.



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