[TUHS] Another "craft" discussion topic - mindless tool proliferation
clemc at ccc.com
Thu Sep 21 04:15:01 AEST 2017
I fear this thread drifted from Jon's point about improving a tool, instead
of replacing it.
On Tue, Sep 19, 2017 at 1:01 PM, Jon Steinhart <jon at fourwinds.com> wrote:
> OK, here's another one that's good for chest thumping...
> I am not a fan of texinfo. It doesn't provide any benefits (to me) over
To me this was just rms trying to inflict ITS/emacs on Unix. Lars points
out info is just ITS format, the tool is just emacs commands.
The key was that here was a case where the UNIX solution (man) was
perfectly reasonable, worked very well. But it was not the likely and in
the right flavor of rms.
> This is a systemic problem. I have a section in my book-in-progress where
> talk about being a "good programming citizen". One of the things that I
> Often there is a tool that does most of what you need but is lacking
> some feature or other. Add that feature to the existing tool;
> don't just write a new one. The problem with writing a new one
> is that, as a tool user, you end up having to learn a lot of tools
> that perform essentially the same function. It's a waste of time
> an energy. A good example is the make utility (invented by Stuart
> Feldman at Bell Labs in 1976) that is used to build large software
> packages. As time went on, new features were needed. Some were
> added to make, but many other incompatible utilities were created that
> performed similar functions. Don't create burdens for others.
> Improve existing tools if possible.
Which is exactly your point. I think you are spot on here. Instead of
rms trying to learn to use Unix the way, he inflicted the ITS/emacs way
because he thought it was ``better.'' Which is a tad arrogant.
I have noted that the folks that don't mind and/or like info, are regular
Someone like me, who can use emacs, but does not find it the only thing (I
could switch between RPN - HP style and algebraic - TI calculators too),
just find texinfo to be an annoyance. It's different and one extra place
to look. As Jon said, it does not provide any benefits and in fact is a
detraction because it means the standard Unix tools like apropros does not
Larry has right idea, with his webroff. Make html when it is appropriate
I also think, man pages are man pages and not user manuals. The Perl
example was classic. We did not learn C from the man page. What we got
in the C man page was how to run it. There was a manual (doc) for the
language. That should have been a manual (in -ms macros) and then run
through Larry's webroff and properly indexed.
Then you get everything.
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