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Re: [hackers-il] Two New Software-Related Ideas

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  • Beni Cherniavsky
    ... [...] ... On debian, I frequently use apt-cache search . When I don t know how to formulate the search I launch synaptic and try all the searches I can
    Message 1 of 12 , Oct 2, 2006
      On 02/10/06, Omer Zak <omerz@...> wrote:
      > One thing whose absence I sorely feel:
      > An improved way to have apropos.
      [...]
      > It would be nice to have some sort of database or a search engine, into
      > which you can type keywords describing the task and it displays to you a
      > list of potentially relevant software tools, command line options and
      > commands which might be relevant to performance of that task.
      >
      On debian, I frequently use "apt-cache search". When I don't know how to
      formulate the search I launch "synaptic" and try all the searches I
      can think of.
      Both search the full description texts of all packages, which gives better
      results than man -k. Also, if I'm looking for the right tool, I want
      to consider
      all availiable packages, not only those those that happen to be installed.

      On other distributions, I expect that searching the package database will
      also give good results.

      --
      Beni Cherniavsky <cben@...>
    • Amit Aronovitch
      This is a repost of my message from 21/9 (I was told it was rejected and I have to repost) comments relate to the unixdoc idea. rants--well, guess I was in a
      Message 2 of 12 , Oct 24, 2006
        This is a repost of my message from 21/9
        (I was told it was rejected and I have to repost)

        comments relate to the "unixdoc" idea.

        rants--well, guess I was in a cynical mood that day.

        ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        From: Amit Aronovitch <aronovitch@...> Mailed-By: gmail.com
        To: hackers-il@yahoogroups.com
        Date: Sep 21, 2006 1:42 AM
        Subject: Re: [hackers-il] Two New Software-Related Ideas

        (a)

        http://www.gnu.org/software/texinfo/

        You all probably know that, but shame it is not mentioned - not even
        as an input format.

        Few facts (I know a few people which I was very surprised to find out
        they did not even know that info exists):

        1) All the detailed/updated documentation of all GNU components come
        as info. man pages are either a brief summary or inserted by the
        distros) - try "info bash", "info find", "info coreutils" on any GNU
        based system (in fact all propriatary unices I happened to work on in
        the last 5 years offer a provider-prepared compilation of standard gnu
        tools - info included)

        (Better to avoid using man on GNU tools - in many cases important
        information was dropped out. Plus - once you get used to the interface
        - navigation and searching is much more flexible - even for reading
        plain manpages)

        2) The texinfo system is menu driven and hyperlinked. It supports
        generating a pretty hardcopy (using tex) and html.

        3) The major problem is that the standard browser (info info -
        contains a tutorial), is very emacs-ish, which, while immediate and
        intuitive to some of us, is intimidating to others. Also it's not new
        - therefore not "cool" (people seem to think that anything that was
        invented earlier than last year is old-fashioned and can't be any
        good).
        However: nothing prevents you for writing graphical viewers. In fact,

        4) Modern desktop systems already provide interface to the info system
        (in Gnome yelp, you find the info directory under "command line help"
        next to the man pages).

        ---------------------------

        (b)

        Debian provides a nice set of tools, which should let you read all
        docs (man, info and html-docs) of installed packages using your web
        browser ( I think most packages do register themself using doc-base) .
        I believe the 3 alternatives are "dwww","doc-central" and "dhelp"
        (each having different set of capabilities and different requirements
        - e.g. dhelp does not require a webserver)
        This is all I can say right now - since I did not yet try any of the 3.

        ----------------------------

        (c)

        Some rants about "modern style" of documentation (Gnome/KDE docbooks) :
        The modern desktops seem to think that their form of docs is so much
        better than the "old fashioned" man/info, that they don't bother
        providing any other form, even for commandline tools. It seems that
        even Debian packagers (which are usually very strict about having
        manpages) fall to that dogma.

        However, the documentation that does exist in their fancy graphical
        system (which of course very *cool* and *modern*), is close to 100%
        what I call "useless menu listing"(*) - all the trivial parts that you
        can easily find out yourself are documented, but anything useful
        enough you'd bother opening the help for is considered "expert-level
        details" that would only confuse and bother the poor stupid^H Eh...
        sorry... *respected* user in Joelspeak (
        http://www.joelonsoftware.com/uibook/chapters/fog0000000062.html ).
        I say - if you really think "users" (FTR, I resent the term) don't
        read the manual (obviously false generalization), don't document at
        all (see if you can get you clients to accept "users don't read" as an
        excuse for that...). If you bother to document - document the
        *important* stuff. If I clicked "help" I probably *do* want to get
        some info - right?

        AA

        (*) Go to the nearest book-shop and pick some random computer book,
        say a (fictitional) 600 pages "F. Mbogo's Absolute Guide to Microsoft
        Word", open some random page.
        Most probably you'll see something like this:
        ...
        1.2.3 The File menu:
        1.2.3.1 The "New" command
        Use this to start working on a new document. A menu pops up asking
        you to choose the type of document - see figure 1.16.
        1.2.3.2 The "Open" command
        To open a new file select this option. A window will pop up,
        allowing you to pick the file you want to edit (see figure 1.17).
        Detailed description on using that window can be found in F. Mbogo's
        "Power User's Guide to Windows Explorer"
        ...

        On 9/19/06, Shlomi Fish <shlomif@...> wrote:
        > Hi all!
        >
        > You can find two new software-related ideas that I scribbled down here:
        >
        > * http://www.shlomifish.org/philosophy/ideas/#tucan
        >
        > * http://www.shlomifish.org/philosophy/ideas/unixdoc/
        >
        > Please let me know what you think.
        >
        > Regards,
        >
        > Shlomi Fish
        >
      • Shlomi Fish
        ... Yes, I m aware of GNU texinfo. I don t remember why I didn t include it. Perhaps it was out of due frustration from its limitations or the fact that I
        Message 3 of 12 , Oct 25, 2006
          On Wednesday 25 October 2006 01:19, Amit Aronovitch wrote:
          > This is a repost of my message from 21/9
          > (I was told it was rejected and I have to repost)
          >
          > comments relate to the "unixdoc" idea.
          >
          > rants--well, guess I was in a cynical mood that day.
          >
          > ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
          >--------------- From: Amit Aronovitch <aronovitch@...> Mailed-By:
          > gmail.com
          > To: hackers-il@yahoogroups.com
          > Date: Sep 21, 2006 1:42 AM
          > Subject: Re: [hackers-il] Two New Software-Related Ideas
          >
          > (a)
          >
          > http://www.gnu.org/software/texinfo/
          >
          > You all probably know that, but shame it is not mentioned - not even
          > as an input format.

          Yes, I'm aware of GNU texinfo. I don't remember why I didn't include it.
          Perhaps it was out of due frustration from its limitations or the fact that I
          found the "info" reader to be so counter-intuitive.

          I normally use the HTML documentation (as converted from the texinfo sources)
          at gnu.org.

          >
          > Few facts (I know a few people which I was very surprised to find out
          > they did not even know that info exists):
          >
          > 1) All the detailed/updated documentation of all GNU components come
          > as info. man pages are either a brief summary or inserted by the
          > distros) - try "info bash", "info find", "info coreutils" on any GNU
          > based system (in fact all propriatary unices I happened to work on in
          > the last 5 years offer a provider-prepared compilation of standard gnu
          > tools - info included)
          >
          > (Better to avoid using man on GNU tools - in many cases important
          > information was dropped out. Plus - once you get used to the interface
          > - navigation and searching is much more flexible - even for reading
          > plain manpages)

          One problem Nadav once mentioned with the info pages, is that they are split
          into several sections and sub-sections and so one cannot search them for a
          keyword as conveniently as one can using a man page.

          >
          > 2) The texinfo system is menu driven and hyperlinked. It supports
          > generating a pretty hardcopy (using tex) and html.

          Yes, albeit its support for hypertext is relatively limited in comparison to
          DocBook.

          >
          > 3) The major problem is that the standard browser (info info -
          > contains a tutorial), is very emacs-ish, which, while immediate and
          > intuitive to some of us, is intimidating to others.

          I could never get the hang of the "info" command line. :-)

          > Also it's not new
          > - therefore not "cool" (people seem to think that anything that was
          > invented earlier than last year is old-fashioned and can't be any
          > good).
          > However: nothing prevents you for writing graphical viewers. In fact,
          >
          > 4) Modern desktop systems already provide interface to the info system
          > (in Gnome yelp, you find the info directory under "command line help"
          > next to the man pages).
          >

          Yes.

          > ---------------------------
          >
          > (b)
          >
          > Debian provides a nice set of tools, which should let you read all
          > docs (man, info and html-docs) of installed packages using your web
          > browser ( I think most packages do register themself using doc-base) .
          > I believe the 3 alternatives are "dwww","doc-central" and "dhelp"
          > (each having different set of capabilities and different requirements
          > - e.g. dhelp does not require a webserver)
          > This is all I can say right now - since I did not yet try any of the 3.

          Interesting. I suppose it uses texinfo2html and man2html. Not precisely the
          level of integration that I'm looking for.

          >
          > ----------------------------
          >
          > (c)
          >
          > Some rants about "modern style" of documentation (Gnome/KDE docbooks) :
          > The modern desktops seem to think that their form of docs is so much
          > better than the "old fashioned" man/info, that they don't bother
          > providing any other form, even for commandline tools. It seems that
          > even Debian packagers (which are usually very strict about having
          > manpages) fall to that dogma.
          >
          > However, the documentation that does exist in their fancy graphical
          > system (which of course very *cool* and *modern*), is close to 100%
          > what I call "useless menu listing"(*) - all the trivial parts that you
          > can easily find out yourself are documented, but anything useful
          > enough you'd bother opening the help for is considered "expert-level
          > details" that would only confuse and bother the poor stupid^H Eh...
          > sorry... *respected* user in Joelspeak (
          > http://www.joelonsoftware.com/uibook/chapters/fog0000000062.html ).
          > I say - if you really think "users" (FTR, I resent the term) don't
          > read the manual (obviously false generalization), don't document at
          > all (see if you can get you clients to accept "users don't read" as an
          > excuse for that...). If you bother to document - document the
          > *important* stuff. If I clicked "help" I probably *do* want to get
          > some info - right?

          You're right about that. Of course, I often end up consulting the code for how
          to do something using a program.

          Regards,

          Shlomi Fish

          >
          > AA
          >
          > (*) Go to the nearest book-shop and pick some random computer book,
          > say a (fictitional) 600 pages "F. Mbogo's Absolute Guide to Microsoft
          > Word", open some random page.
          > Most probably you'll see something like this:
          > ...
          > 1.2.3 The File menu:
          > 1.2.3.1 The "New" command
          > Use this to start working on a new document. A menu pops up asking
          > you to choose the type of document - see figure 1.16.
          > 1.2.3.2 The "Open" command
          > To open a new file select this option. A window will pop up,
          > allowing you to pick the file you want to edit (see figure 1.17).
          > Detailed description on using that window can be found in F. Mbogo's
          > "Power User's Guide to Windows Explorer"
          > ...
          >
          > On 9/19/06, Shlomi Fish <shlomif@...> wrote:
          > > Hi all!
          > >
          > > You can find two new software-related ideas that I scribbled down here:
          > >
          > > * http://www.shlomifish.org/philosophy/ideas/#tucan
          > >
          > > * http://www.shlomifish.org/philosophy/ideas/unixdoc/
          > >
          > > Please let me know what you think.
          > >
          > > Regards,
          > >
          > > Shlomi Fish

          --

          ---------------------------------------------------------------------
          Shlomi Fish shlomif@...
          Homepage: http://www.shlomifish.org/

          Chuck Norris wrote a complete Perl 6 implementation in a day but then
          destroyed all evidence with his bare hands, so no one will know his secrets.
        • Amit Aronovitch
          ... Driven away because of the frontend... exactly as I said in (3). info is only intuitive to Emacsers, and most of them read the info with the emacs frontend
          Message 4 of 12 , Oct 26, 2006
            On 10/25/06, Shlomi Fish <shlomif@...> wrote:

            > Yes, I'm aware of GNU texinfo. I don't remember why I didn't include it.
            > Perhaps it was out of due frustration from its limitations or the fact that I
            > found the "info" reader to be so counter-intuitive.
            >

            Driven away because of the frontend... exactly as I said in (3).
            info is only intuitive to Emacsers, and most of them read the info
            with the emacs frontend anyway.
            I wonder if there's a "viper"-like keyboard scheme for info, or a
            standalone vi-like reader. These might do wonders to the popularity of
            the system.

            Anyways, if you consider writing a new doc framework - supporting
            info as input source would greatly increase the amount of docs
            available to your system (the useful ones, at least ;-)).

            > I normally use the HTML documentation (as converted from the texinfo sources)
            > at gnu.org.
            >

            That's remote documentation - not available when your'e offline, and
            may not match the versions you have installed on your machine (that
            is, unless your distro takes care of installing these htmls locally in
            a centralized way - e.g. dhelp and friends)

            Maybe it would be better to use your desktop's help system - I think
            both KDE and Gnome help are aware of the installed info docs and allow
            you to browse and read them.

            >
            > One problem Nadav once mentioned with the info pages, is that they are split
            > into several sections and sub-sections and so one cannot search them for a
            > keyword as conveniently as one can using a man page.

            I was told that too.
            But this is FALSE (maybe it was true in old versions - I don't know).

            Both normal search (s, prompts for input, like '/' in man) and the
            electric-search (^s, search-as-you-type, like '/' in firefox) work
            across sections (they view the whole topic as if it was one big
            document).
            btw, in the Emacs frontend, electric search is page-local, which is,
            in fact, one of the reasons I prefer the standalone info reader.
          • Beni Cherniavsky
            ... ``info foo | less`` gives you the whole manual in one document. But this loses hyperlinks and gains nothing. As amit says, `Ctrl-S` and `/` work accross
            Message 5 of 12 , Oct 27, 2006
              On 25/10/06, Shlomi Fish <shlomif@...> wrote:
              > One problem Nadav once mentioned with the info pages, is that they are split
              > into several sections and sub-sections and so one cannot search them for a
              > keyword as conveniently as one can using a man page.
              >
              ``info foo | less`` gives you the whole manual in one document. But
              this loses hyperlinks and gains nothing.

              As amit says, `Ctrl-S` and `/` work accross sections in the standalone
              `info` reader. `i` searches the index which is usually high-quality.

              > >
              > > 3) The major problem is that the standard browser (info info -
              > > contains a tutorial), is very emacs-ish, which, while immediate and
              > > intuitive to some of us, is intimidating to others.
              >
              > I could never get the hang of the "info" command line. :-)
              >
              `pinfo` is friendlier but less powerful. Browser access (e.g. dwww)
              is probably your best option today.

              > >
              > > Debian provides a nice set of tools, which should let you read all
              > > docs (man, info and html-docs) of installed packages using your web
              > > browser ( I think most packages do register themself using doc-base) .
              > > I believe the 3 alternatives are "dwww","doc-central" and "dhelp"
              > > (each having different set of capabilities and different requirements
              > > - e.g. dhelp does not require a webserver)
              > > This is all I can say right now - since I did not yet try any of the 3.
              >
              > Interesting. I suppose it uses texinfo2html and man2html. Not precisely the
              > level of integration that I'm looking for.
              >
              What's missing?

              --
              Beni Cherniavsky <cben@...> (I read email only on weekends)
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