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

David J. Perry hospes.primus at verizon.net
Thu Jun 18 01:53:16 CEST 2009


I think you underestimate how different TeX is from the GUI software that 
most people are used to.  For instance, I have never used Quark, the page 
layout program.  But if I decided to learn it, there would be many things 
that I could do immediately, and many more that would require only minimal 
learning, based on my experience with other similar software.  Furthermore, 
if I wanted to do a particular task, either the program could do it (and it 
would be explained in the help system) or it couldn't.  There would be no 
need to search for additional packages as in TeX.

Now contrast that with what happened after I installed MiKTeX and TeXworks. 
I entered some basic code and wanted to see how it would look.  I was 
immediately confronted with several choices that I did not understand and 
had no way to get the answers easily.  I persevered, but if TeXworks is to 
fulfill its stated mission to provide an easier entrée to the TeX world, it 
must provide some basic help when folks need it, and provide pointers to 
existing resources (many of which predate XeTeX, so users have to learn not 
to use babel, fontenc, etc.--yet another layer of complexity).

I had known of the existence of TeX for a very long time, but my work 
requires many unusual fonts, Unicode, and sometimes OpenType.  So I never 
bothered with TeX because it didn't meet my needs.  Then someone told me 
about XeTeX and I was eager to try it.  I knew that it was a typesetting 
language and I would have to type in codes rather than use a GUI, which 
didn't bother me because I had some experience with such systems in the 
distant past.  So I think I "knew what it was good for."  But I was not 
prepared for the steepness of the learning curve, particularly since I often 
had to search in several different places to find what I needed.  If 
TeXworks had come with even some basic help--just a few pages, with 
appropriate pointers for more assistance--it would have saved me a lot of 
time and effort.  If we just assume that people will know all about TeX 
before they try TeXworks, beginners will not stick around.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Reinhard Kotucha" <reinhard.kotucha at web.de>
> But people don't install TeXworks before they know what TeX actually
> is.  Is
> Similarly, I don't think that a document describing different TeX
> dialects should be part of the TeXworks distribution.  People have to
> read it *before* they install anything.  And it's not related to
> TeXworks at all.  People also don't install TeX Live if they don't
> know what it's good for.

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