[Mac OS X TeX] Re: The role of TeXShop

Joachim Kock kock at math.unice.fr
Thu Jan 17 04:16:09 EST 2002

Bruno wrote:

>  I do agree with the wish to be able to use arrow keys, for example, for
>  navigating through a TeXShop document. If that were to be implemented, I
>  would favour the way Textures works, by using only arrow keys and
>  modifier keys (like Shift-DownArrow, Cmd-DownArrow etc.), to the
>  suggested single key equivalents (n for next page, etc.): single-key
>  actions seem a bit un-Mac to me, TeXShop is not xdvi wrapped on a
>  Macintosh!

Fear of being un-mac is dangerous --- in fact the whole philosophy of TeX
is somewhat un-mac: instead of selecting things from a limited number of
menus and moving them around with a mouse, we write some simple code to
specify exactly what we want.

While striving for being faithful to the mac experience of ease-of-use and
consistent and logical design, there is a lot to be learned from the unix
way, and being truly 'mac' is to admit this --- this was true even before
mac went X.  Alpha and OzTeX are good examples of this: while heavily unix
inspired (Alpha has a thousand keyboard equivalents and even a command line
--- OzTeX has that single-stroke preview navigation inherited from xdvi)
they are first-class mac citizens in the way key combinations are assigned
and menus designed --- and they are good at handling apple events!  You can
use these poweful unix-like features if you want --- otherwise stick to the
menus, and the combination Alpha-OzTeX is still a very mac-like interface
which can compete with Textures on OS9.

Concerning single-stroke key equivalents on the mac, there is one which has
been around for a decade, namely the space bar as 'page down' --- I think it
works in all web browsers (and most likely comes from unix (more or less)).
Is this un-mac?  It is very practical anyway, and once we have one of these
single-stroke shortcuts, why not take advantage of the idea and define some
others?  Since we are in a read-only environment there is no better use of
the keys, and in fact it may be easier to assign single-strokes letters to
the navigation commands than finding Cmd-something combinations --- most of
them are already taken, or otherwise have connotations which make their
choice questionable...  For example, TeXShop resorted to Cmd-, and Cmd-.
for page up and down, which is not ideal: Cmd-. on the mac is usually
associated with interruption of something (and it should also be noted that
on some keyboards, there is no Cmd-key on the right-hand side of the
keyboard, and thus the page-up and -down equivalents become two-hand

By the way, let me comment on another set of keyboard equivalents in
TeXShop: those Cmd-shift-L and Cmd-shift-T.  First of all, I find these key
combinations too complicated for the most important command in the
programme: Typeset!  Second, there should be no need to have two different
combinations for commands which are essentially the same (Typeset), since
it is hard to imagine a document which could be compiled in both TeX and
LaTeX. I think it would be better design to have only one command (Typeset)
which then in accordance with the structure of the source file would call
the appropriate programme.  In other words, the choice between TeX and
LaTeX is not up to the user, but should be determined completely by the
context.  (I think this principle has some fancy name in object oriented
programming --- can somebody refresh my memory?).  (Just as the trash can
is bound to different actions depending on whether the icon dragged upon
it is a file or a removable volume...)  (If you will allow me to express
my preference on this matter, Cmd-T would be a good choice (T for TeX or
T for Typeset), then the Font Panel (which is a quite secondary function)
would have to find another key-equivalent --- or is Cmd-T becoming mac
standard for Open Font Panel?)

Sorry for being lengthy, and sorry if I appear displeased with TeXShop
--- in fact I am very happy with it --- my comments were meant to be
strictly constructive...


Joachim KOCK
Laboratoire de Mathématiques J.A.Dieudonné    Tél.  +33
Université de Nice Sophia-Antipolis           Fax   +33
Parc Valrose - 06108 Nice cédex 2 - FRANCE    Mél.  kock at math.unice.fr

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