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

Richard Koch koch at math.uoregon.edu
Mon Feb 22 01:43:26 CET 2010


I appreciate the discussion, which has been frank and informative. Let me add an opinion of my own.

On Feb 21, 2010, at 3:58 PM, Alan Munn wrote:

> 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.)

I'm really just a Kansas farm boy.  I don't know what the above paragraphs actually mean in meat and potatoes language. One of my students accused me of having the most literal mind on the UO campus; I just cannot grok "abstract principles about application organization" unless I understand how they work in practice.

Take as a specific example the Engines folder. Are you saying that all Engines included in TeXShop should appear in /Library/Application Support, and that ~/Library/TeXShop/Engines should be reserved for engines which individual users invent? In that case, are you saying that all engines included with TeXShop should
automatically show up in the pulldown menu on the toolbar? So for instance, a first time user should be faced with the possibility of using the Hiero engine to typeset hieroglyphics? Of a first time user should already be worrying about Latexmk? Or a first time user should know about Asymptote, Sage, and Sketch? Or when a user upgrades, they should automatically see any new engine that has been included? 

And if not, then should users activate new engines before they see them? Then how is that different than the current situation, except that users have to understand TWO locations, ~/Library/Application Support and ~/Library/TeXShop.  I have never looked in ~/Library/Application Support in my life.

I'm sympathetic to Messerschmitt's proposal. It is surprising when TeXShop claims to contain a new macro and then it isn't immediately available. New engines? Not so much.

I'm sympathetic to the "make it easy for a new user" argument, since that has been a design principle of TeXShop from the start. However, another principle I use is "attempts to help the user behind their back will almost certainly backfire some day when you least expect it".

Now let the discussion continue. Concrete examples, please!


PS: The the Macro menu is used in a different way than we expected. We thought that it would be solely for personal macros, so our initial macros were very routine. To our surprise, extremely useful (and complicated) macros appeared. Thus the macros menu is a special case, and requires more thought.

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