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

Stefan Löffler st.loeffler at gmail.com
Wed Jun 17 15:18:18 CEST 2009


David J. Perry schrieb:
> 1. Do keep it simple (uncluttered GUI) and do keep the beginner's
> needs in mind.

Agreed :)

> 2. I think TeXworks acutally _needs_ only three enhancements (as
> opposed things that are nice, fun, cool but not essential).
> 3. In fact, I think TeXworks works so well that I'd like to see the
> official version 1 sooner rather than later.  This would let more
> people try it. (BTW: thanks to Alain for those Windows binaries.  I do
> a lot of computer related stuff, but have no interest in buildling
> software!)

Releasing an official version is essentially up to Jonathan. But I agree
that the points you mention below have to be included. That's shouldn't
take too long, though, with the work of the community.

> 4. The three enhancements that I think are truly needed include:
> a. a better manual and/or integrated help system

I fully agree. Actually, everyone can write documentation. Implementing
them into TW shouldn't be too difficult. It's most straight-forward if
the documentation is written in HTML. If someone doesn't know HTML well
enough I'm sure there'll be plenty of people out here willing to convert
documents. On a sidenote: Those feeling comfortable with HTML (and
possibly related XML-like languages) could also read
http://doc.trolltech.com/4.5/qthelp.html on generating Qt help files.

I agree with Alain, btw, that people probably won't start reading a
thick manual. So my suggestion is to have a complete reference over all
that TW has to offer (probably grouped by required user-knowledge or how
needed it typically is), but also to have a short, simple and quick
tutorial to get people started. Especially when dealing with people new
to the TeX world they don't want to learn about specific command line
options or the ability to use lua scripts for simplifying math
typesetting. They want to be able to start the program, write a simple
document, and get a nice output. I think a tutorial that covers that
should be the first one to be presented to the user.

> b. the ability to print source code (for debugging this is sometimes
> convenient) as well as the PDF output

As already suggested by others, this is indeed quite difficult
(otherwise it would have been done already ;)). The main problem lies in
the fact that there is no direct way to print pdfs via poppler and Qt.
Therefore one has to work around it, which gets highly platform
dependent. (Printing the source code on the other hand should be easy.)
But I'll see what I can do about it when I have the time.

> c. improved help with errors

As already pointed out, this should be possible with lua scripting. But
if lua makes it into the initial release is still open.
As a matter of fact what Alain mentioned (clicking on an error message
and the line causing the error is displayed) is possible with the
current lua implementation already. One has to double-click, though, and
the lua script programmer must support type 2 output (sorry for these

> Let me say a little about each of these.  I single out these things
> because I think they speak particularly to the needs of beginners.
> b. [...] If printing won't come soon, would it be possible to provide
> a more graceful way to handle the "broken pipe error" that results
> when I open my PDF in Acrobat to print and then forget to close it
> before I recompile after making more edits?  I do that fairly often .
> . . and it might confuse beginners.

I hope (some form of) printing comes soon. The problem with Acrobat on
the other hand is not really a TW problem, it's an Acrobat problem. When
acrobat opens a file it blocks all attempts to write to the file until
it is closed again in Acrobat. There is no way for TW to know where the
file is open or why it can't be written to (my guess is you'd get the
same error if you simply made the file read-only). But you could file an
issue at http://code.google.com/p/texworks/issues/list about the fact
that the error message is neither descriptive of the real problem nor
helpful in resolving it. I'd suggest the addition "If the file is opened
in another program, please close it" or something like this.


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