[OS X TeX] MacTex 2008 documentation (Again !?!?!?!)
fusion at mx6.tiki.ne.jp
Mon Jan 5 02:35:49 EST 2009
After all I learned over the course of the weekend, I was thinking
that the best way to contribute back to the "community" was to do two
1) propose modifications to the "READ ME FIRST.pdf" file that is put
inside the /Applications/TeX/ folder
2) propose a template for multilingual use that works out of the box
(to a certain extend) to the Texshop developers so that it can be
referenced in the above document.
About 1), I could not find the source of the document. Is it hidden
somewhere in the distribution architecture ?
Now, for those who are interested in knowing what exactly happened,
here are the minutes...
Basically what happened is the following: I had an old fink+macport
+native mix of tex related packages that I wanted to put to use
When I decided to typeset that French book about kanbun I had figured
out that only Unicode could help me. So I googled a little bit and
found (again) about XeteX.
After checking the XeteX page, I found that its most recent version
was available in MacTex. But since I already had all the stuff
installed I was reluctant to download 2gb of data that I would only
use to typeset once a 100 pages book. So I tried my old Texshop with
my old XeteX, saving the file in UTF-8 etc but things did not work
well. I tried and tried again but could not get accents (or Japanese)
to display properly. My first idea was that my system was broken
(after all I _was_ using Unicode and XeteX and the default templates)...
So I decided to purge everything: I removed the whole /opt/ and /sw/
trees, the old native apps (Texshop etc) and proceeded to download
Installation worked flawlessly.
Then I read the READ ME FIRST.pdf file, proceeded to set the new
version of Texshop, opened the default template and... Shock and
horror ! It still did not work.
That is pretty much what led me to the list and started this very
Now, _IF_ the READ ME FIRST.pdf file had contained the 2~3 lines of
preamble that would have allowed me to proceed with French (or at
least give me hints that non English languages were "special", along
with a pointer) all this would not have happened... Believe me.
I put myself on the seat of the user who knows the software is
supposed to produce the expected result (because it is advertised as
such) but can't find the damn button to make that work. And also can't
find the document in the box that says where the damn button is.
You all have been very helpful and I am truly grateful for all the
mails that were exchanged. But the thing is that, just like feeding
someone is not like teaching that person how to grow potatoes, sending
recipes in a mail will most likely not contribute to the user's
independence (just like sending arbitrary links to documents -
displayed in super tiny fonts or not- in the TeX universe).
While saying: "since you have MacTex 2008, then look into the (MacTex
user meta manual).pdf, page n, all the basic settings are there" does.
It takes one line, one mail and that part of the thread is over.
And the documentation should be right there, in the box.
It does occur to me that a lot of modern documents related to (La)TeX
are published in English, with the English reader in mind. I found a
few and they really are good. But the issue with them is that when
they mention "fonts" it usually comes with the warning that the user
should really not be touching them because TeX is a specialist and
knows about all that, and when they mention encodings or languages it
is mostly by mentioning that the packages support multiple encodings
and/or multiple languages. Wow.
No wonder that translation of such documents, if they exist, mention
font modifications and encoding issues somewhere in the middle of the
book, exactly where the English text mentions them (like on page 346
of a book somebody mentioned in the thread...) When such information
is simply vital to the non English user and should be in a prominent
location so that the user is simply able to start typing !!!
ps: "That's what Open Source/Free Software is about so deal with it"
is not an argument. I am the owner of a (close to) 1000 members
specialized software user support list, I authored 2 versions of the
manual (about 650ko of HTML data for the latest) and contributed to 2
others, I contributed French localizations and Japanese localization
coordination, along with the Mac packaging etc, and I find it a gross
misconstruction to suggest that volunteer work produces lower grade
user experiences where most of my experience as a software user says
the _exact_ opposite.
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