[texhax] Was Re: pagestyle{empty}; Now is LaTeX documentation

Christer Thörn christer.thorn at ing.hj.se
Fri Mar 31 08:48:57 CEST 2006

Philip G. Ratcliffe wrote:
>> I think that the following are well-intentioned, but they might be
>> misconstrued as off-putting remarks:
>
> I'm not sure these discusions are ever particularly useful to anyone, but
> here goes: lessons are often hard to take but a student with a minimum of
> maturity accepts them.
>
>>>
>>> Please get a new book on LaTeX. The \bf command has been
>>> deprecated for more than a decade.
>>>
>>> There is also a lot of documentation in the texmf/doc directory.
>>> It's a pity that most people don't know, though they spent a lot of
>>>
>> My opinion is that, as LaTeX changes and new packages are added, it
>> becomes more difficult for beginning users to find appropriate
>> documentaton and this difficulty creates an impediment.  Many users
>> will copy an old working example and modify it because it works;
>> thus, the continued use of \bf.
>
> Yes, but ten years is an awfully long time - I'd bet that any of your
> average LaTeX users is perfectly happy with, say, a cellular telephone ...
>
>> A case in point: Suppose I am interested in the parallel package and
>> want to know about *all* of its features.  How do I know that I
>> should look at TeXLive/texmf/latex/doc/parallel?
>
> Come, come, everything under the sun these days comes with some sort of
> instruction manual - but, of course, knowledge doesn't pass merely via
> osmosis!
>
>> Moreover, it gives
>> me only examples and I still am not sure if I know if a feature I
>> might want is there but doesn't appear in an example.
>
> Yes, but this doesn't correspond to the typical situation.  I've said this
> before, but I'll say it again: most of the answers I give on this and other
> lists don't come out of my head, they come out of a manual.
>
>> Because I am
>> in a hurry, I try to parse the information by looking through
>> parallel.sty. This is not for the timid.
>
> But why?  There's a perfectly good manual explaining commands, options,
> limitations and (in this case) even a to-do list.
>
>> I can't imagine how all documentation could be made accessible to a
>> spectrum of users and don't offer a solution.
>
> I'm not sure I understand the point here.  Anyway, surely, the point is that
> the documentation IS there.  Does it really take so much imagination to find
> it?  For example, I can do a file search for "parallel.*" and it will come
> up with parallel.dvi relatively quickly.  In fact, an editor like WinEdt
> allows you to double click on the usepackage command and then makes a
> thorough search for any and all available info.
>
>> However, a list like
>> this does serve the purpose to a large degree. It would be a shame
>> to discourage new users.
>
> Yes, but it would also be a shame to reduce the list to "I need to do X,
> what package can I use?"  After all FAQ's were invented just to deal with
> this.

Then how about making a new list, "tex-questions", where all the FAQs
could go, and get answered by people that know and accept that what gets
asked on that list will most likely be a FAQ?

Then "texhax" could be the place for more advanced and clever questions.

I know perfectly well that most of what I ask here can be accomplished
by using a package with the approriate options, and that all I need to
do is wade through enough documentation to find it. But sometimes I'm
previously explained that I have been using several obsolete and
redundant constructs, which was due to old templates used at my
universities, combined with me finding another solution later on), in a
hurry or just plain using the wrong keywords for my searches.

> Cheers,  Phil Ratcliffe
--
Christer Thörn
christer.thorn(a)ing.hj.se