[OS X TeX] TeXShop Feature Request

David Watson dewatson at me.com
Sun Mar 8 01:34:43 CET 2009

On Mar 7, 2009, at 5:29 PM, cfrees at imapmail.org wrote:

> Re.: tabs vs. windows
> <snip>
> However, I'm not so sure now. I find it hard to think through whether
> I'd prefer tabs or not. I've got so used to tabs in other contexts
> (Firefox and screen, mostly) and I can imagine finding them useful. I

There is a big difference between the expectations of a web-browser  
and an editor for a marked-up language.
Web-browsing requires the user to click on links and fill in forms.
While editing a document doesn't require another window in the context  
of WYSIWYG, it does in the context of TeX.

Apart from the historical pretext of WYSIWYG vs markup, there was  
another factor that led to the implementation of previewers; without a  
preview, you could end up wasting reams of paper in the process of  
preparing a manuscript with TeX.
With a preview you could look at the output and decide if What You  
Wrote Was What You Intended.
In the old days, people would actually use the little error boxes that  
you get in draft mode with TeX to make sure that the final document  
met some sort of standard, the particulars of which Knuth described in  
the TeXBook.
No one uses that much anymore, and the focus has shifted on making  
things as simple as possible for the latest fool who can't leave well  
enough alone.

In the process, the workflow has also shifted from paying attention  
first and foremost to content, to trying to emulate a WYSIWYG  
workflow. (Not that there is anything wrong with that)
One application which comes close to satisfying the disparate  
requirements of novices and wizards is the VueScan application, which  
allows users to choose their level of expertise, and modify the  
application interface based on that choice.

I am reminded of the "simplified Finder" choice Apple used offered in  
Mac OS 9. (maybe even before?)
While the simplified Finder and VueScan approaches allow one to choose  
an appropriate "depth of interface", before or during the interaction,  
respectively, I just don't know how well such choices play out in the  
field of TeX.
Too little choice, and you get people writing diatribes about such  
matters on mailing lists for years on end.
Too much choice, and the novice is faced with trying to make decisions  
on the front-end that require a depth of knowledge that is not yet  

I think TeXShop meets the requirements of the novice category very  
nicely as it stands.
While having multiple source files in one window with tabs sounds  
great, I wonder how many messages are going to be generated on this  
list about how to 'turn off tabbing when using different master files'  
or 'how can I get it NOT to turn off tabbing when I have two different  
master files'...
And I ABSOLUTELY abhor the "file tree" in the left hand pane as an  

Right now that is not an issue, but I assure you it will be if the  
'tabbing' craze is followed to its logical conclusion.
At such a point, I think novices (on the PC side) will have chosen  
TeXworks, and they will put pressure on their Mac colleagues to use  
the same because it is cross-platform.

Is 'tabbing' going to be the 'selling point' for TeXShop?
I hope not, but then again, it would be better to hear from new users  
instead of grumpy old men like me.

> often have windows that "disappear" from TeXShop. They are still there
> but invisible. They have focus but are nowhere to be seen. The more
> windows I have, the more likely this is. Moreover, I often have a  
> *lot*
> of windows open and just keeping track of them can be difficult. With
> tabs I always know where things are. I'm only ever *one* click or  
> *one*
> shortcut away. With windows, it can take me a lot more than one click
> or one shortcut to find what I want.
> So I'm in favour of choice although it would be nowhere near as high  
> on
> my priority list as some other features, such as better syntax
> colouring, for example.

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