[tex-live] So far.....expensive failure

Philip TAYLOR P.Taylor at Rhul.Ac.Uk
Sat Feb 16 12:50:10 CET 2013

Denis Bitouzé wrote:

> Le samedi 16/02/13 à 09h10,

> Philip TAYLOR <P.Taylor at Rhul.Ac.Uk> a écrit :
>> I don't follow this point, Denis.
> I was pretty sure to not be followed by everyone :)
>> Surely getting to learn and remember macro and environment names is
>> absolutely essential if one is to hope to gain any proficiency at TeX
>> at all; what benefit can possibly be served by attempting to hide
>> these from the user ?
> These are not hidden as they are visible in the editor panel after
> clicking on the right button, choosing the right (sub)menu entry or
> using the right keystrokes.
> AFAICS, this is enough to make the students learn the macros but
> easily, in a rather efficient (quick) and pleasant way, without troubles
> due to misspelling, without interruptions in the writing flow needed if
> they have to search in the documentation(s) the (exact) name of the
> macro they want to use, etc. I'm pretty sure that, otherwise, a lot of
> students who learned LaTeX with me would have given up after the course.

OK, I suppose that in some ways this just reflect the difference
between the average LaTeX user and the average Plain TeX user.
The former (and I mean no disrespect by what follows) expect that
someone (Leslie Lamport, The LaTeX2e/3 team, or one of the countless
package writers) will have written a package that does what they
need, and all they want to do is to use that package. Thus if they
are offered a menu of packages, and for each package a menu of
commands, then the thought process is much simplified and they
can focus solely on writing the text.  The Plain TeX user, on the
other hand, expects to have to write everything for him/herself,
knows by heart all TeX primitives and the vast majority of the Plain
TeX macros, and of course knows the exact names and syntax of
each of his/her own macros since he/she will have written them
in the first place.  Thus an IDE that offers an informed set of
choices to a LaTeX user is probably a good idea; but it is also
probably inappropriate for a Plain TeX user, of which I resolutely
remain one (we are a dying breed).  I might also add that I make
zero use of almost all of the features in WinEDT and TeXworks :
I simply want a GUI interface to XeTeX, Adobe Acrobat, and occasionally
PERL : all of the other things I can, and usually do, do without.

** Phil.

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