[OS X TeX] Finally we are grown up

Fernando Pereira fcnpereira at mac.com
Mon Nov 20 10:00:49 EST 2006

On Nov 20, 2006, at 9:40 AM, Claus Gerhardt wrote:

> I am not offering an installer but install instructions combined  
> with some Applescripts (now applications), that should allow the  
> average user to install TeXLive (TUG) without any troubles.

"That should allow...". A pious wish that all of us who develop  
complex software have expressed one time or another. But always  
dashed by harsh reality.
> It is really interesting that the critiques of my approach come  
> from people who obviously never tried to follow my instructions.

First, I would not need to follow your instructions to the letter,  
because I've been working with Unix systems since 1979. Second,  
natural-language instructions are just a kind of program for people.  
I teach programming, and I know how to criticize a program without  
having to run it. My point is simply that straight-line instructions  
without carefully constructed feedback loops are bound to fail for  
some people, either because they have ambiguities, or because their  
situations were not anticipated by you.

This is not a criticism of your skill, just a recognition that all  
programmers (including writers of natural-language instructions) mess  
up unless they use good software development practices, such as  
checking for invariants that their programs/instructions rely on. It  
is a criticism of your over-confident claims that good installation  
software is unnecessary. You tried to prove your point by posting  
what you claimed were straightforward instructions, and you've had to  
revise them over and over again. Your effort, however worthy, is a  
shiny counterexample to your claim.

-- F

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