[texworks] Beginners' needs (was: Lua scripting)

Manuel Pégourié-Gonnard mpg at elzevir.fr
Wed Jun 17 12:50:19 CEST 2009

David J. Perry a écrit :
> additional information to get them started in the TeX world.  One
> example: it took me a while to understand the differences between the
> various "dialects" of TeX, which is obviously a very important piece of
> information; until you understand that you have no idea what those
> options in the Typesetting dialog are all about.  I'm not suggesting
> that we duplicate material that is already available to actually learn
> all the details of LaTeX, but rather provide enough help to get folks
> started on the right path.

Such a documents (but specifically oriented to LaTeX) have been created
recently, eg:


Probably a more generic document (mentionning latex, xelatex, context, maybe
plain) would be an interesting addition for a future texworks "help links" menu.

>  If you look at the first part of the
> tutorial that I wrote about XeTeX you can see the kind of thing I have
> in mind (http://www.scholarsfonts.net; revised version due out in a few
> days, BTW).

I didn't know this tutorial, it looks very nice. Did you consider making it
available on ctan (hence in TeX Live and MikTeX)? As a user, I usually
appreciate to have the documentation automatically installed on my hard drive.

> easily implemented would be to have a list of reputable TeX FAQs,
> tutorials, etc.;

In principle, this is what latex-doc-ptr does for LaTeX.

Another nice idea for the future would be to integrate texdoc in texworks for
easier access to the documentation (besides the work needing to be done, a
problem is that texdoc only works on texlive right now). On could imagine,
<whatever>-clicking on a \usepackage{foo} line, having the documentation of
foo.sty open in the left panel. This would be great for users.

> b. Printing is not specific to the needs of beginners, but not being
> able to print screams "I am a very young piece of software" as well as
> being inconvenient. Despite being a non-programmer, I suspect that
> adding printing is not a simple task, given the three operating systems
> that need to be supported; so I do not make this request lightly.

I agree with this point, but...

> c. We all know that the errors in TeX are frustrating, and particularly
> so for beginners.  I noticed on Jonathan's TeXworks page at TUG that
> improved help with errors was in the pipeline for post-version 1, and
> this is probably realistic, given the complexity of the task.  I mention
> it only because I think it is one of the enhancements that are truly
> needed,

I agree even more on this point. Today, getting a summarized list of errors,
warnings and bad boxes, and navigating through it and being able to click on an
error and get to the corresponding line in the source is a standard feature one
would expect from a TeX GUI.

I understand this is probably too big a task for the upcoming version 1, but
probably a few steps could be done before version 1 anyway.

First, when I compile a document with an error, the compilation hangs waiting
for my input, but it's not at all clear for me as user:
- what is happening at all (I see a lot of seemingly overcomplicated text in the
output window, how am I supposed to understand that
! Undefined control sequence.
is an error message? It's in the same font/color as the rest of the messages.
- what I'm supposed to do once I understood this is an error. Of course, having
read the texbook I know what I can answer to TeX prompt, but this is not
texworks' target audience, so I really wonder if the input box is useful at all.
I also wonder if it is a good idea that a user action be required to terminate
compilation in case of an error (wouldn't --interaction=batchmode be more

While I'm aware that good error handling is a difficult task in general and
especially in the TeX world, I strongly think that it should be improved before
version 1 (maybe not to a full-featured state, but still improved). Errors are
one of the most confusing part of TeX for beginners.

I think it's more worth spending time on this than on other cool, but not
must-have, stuff.


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