[OS X TeX] New Macros, new Engines, new TeXShop versions, and all that

Alan Munn amunn at gmx.com
Mon Feb 22 00:58:10 CET 2010

On Feb 21, 2010, at 2:53 PM, Gerrit Glabbart wrote:

> 2010/2/21 David Messerschmitt <messer at eecs.berkeley.edu>
> Good point, but there is absolutely nothing inconsistent between (a)  
> accommodating naive and power users differently and (b) allowing  
> users to move from the naive to the power category. All you are  
> saying is that naive users should not matter, because they dont stay  
> that way. Such a perspective is commonplace in open source software,  
> but I am arguing that naive users are important. For one thing,  
> accommodating them will attract more new users to TexShop, whether  
> or not they later turn into power users. I would argue that this is  
> good, if we wish to maximize the impact of TexShop.
> -dave
> And doesn't OS X provide a mechanism for this? Default macros,  
> engines, etc. could go into /Library/Application Support/TeXShop/  
> and could easily be upgraded automatically; the current directory in  
> ~/Library/TeXShop would be the user's responsibility, should they  
> see the need. This is the way it is handled for AppleScripts,  
> PreferencePanes, Screen Savers -- all sorts of things really.
> Or am I missing the point?

No, you're not missing the larger point at all; but for reasons  
unknown to me, TeXShop deviates from the prescribed Apple model by  
completely blurring the distinction between "Application" and "User"  
with respect to many kinds of functionality, primarily Macros and  
Engines, but also command completion etc.  Because TeXShop allows us  
to change almost anything (good for power users) it copies all the  
macros, scripts, engines etc. into ~/Library/TeXShop from the  
application package itself.  There is no /Library/Application Support/ 
TeXShop folder.

This has the result of being very non-transparent for most users, and  
has the unfortunate effect that new functionality in the form of  
macros, scripts or engines doesn't automatically show up when TeXShop  
is updated.  Of course, as the power users point out, they don't want  
upgrades messing with all their tweaking.  (I would generally consider  
myself a power user, but it took me quite a while to even realise that  
new functionality of this sort never showed up with TeXShop update;  
the default assumption would be that it *would* show up.)

Dick has proposed a solution, and this discussion is about its merits;  
I agree with you that sticking to the prescribed Apple method would  
make things more transparent for all users.  There are two problems  
with it as things stand now, though.  First, many established users  
have much invested in modified engines and macros and don't want this  
messed with.  Second, (and I think this is more fundamental, but  
probably solvable) there isn't a clear delineation between  
functionality that should be not modifiable by the user versus that  
which is.)  If we could reach some sort of consensus on this  
distinction, having new functionality show up automatically would be  
more possible.

This is more or less what Dave Messerschmitt is proposing, and I agree  
with the basic sentiment (references to Einstein notwithstanding).

While it's easy to take a particular solution that works, I think it's  
worthwhile to think of better solutions altogether and then decide  
whether the implementation of them is too difficult.  Having written a  
lot of code myself (although not much recently), I'm keenly aware of  
the programmer's bias towards solutions that are easy to program but  
end up like "Here's a fork, now go eat your soup". This is also what  
Dave is worried about w.r.t. open source software generally.


P.S.  Could those of you replying to things in this thread please not  
top-post.  It really does make following the conversation harder.   
(Top posting is adding your comments on top of all the quoted  
material, rather than adding them in the appropriate parts of the  
commented material.)  Thanks.
Alan Munn
amunn at gmx.com

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