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Re: Introduction and proposed contribution

On Sat, Feb 12, 2011 at 11:34 AM, Stephen Cagle <samedhi@gmail.com> wrote:
I think we can all agree that T.V. Raman is a fine technical writer. I think there is however a rather limited number of up to date AND singularly sourced guides to getting started with emacspeak. If someone wants to make a minimal "getting up and running with emacspeak" guide, then I think that would be quite a boon to emacspeak in general.

There have been several efforts to create 'friendly' user guides, getting started tutorials, etc. The real problem is that once written, they are not maintained and over time, become increasingly out of date.  Rather than re-invent the wheel, I think it would be better to start with something like  the installation-guide and users-guide which come with emacspeak. Contributions and improvements to these guides have always been welcomed in the past. It is better to have one definitive guide for installation and use rather than multiple guides scattered around the net in various stages of copleteness or levels of accuracy. 

Just some random things to consider:
Will emacspeak ever be useful to less technically inclined people? That is, will it always primarily be used by programmers and other technical persons who use emacs? Is it possible to get less technical people to use emacs? Is it worthwhile?

Certainly possible for less technical people to use it. Probably not worhtwhile trying to do so. I think the best course of action is to make emacspeak as good as possible, with good documentation and let its main drawing power be its alternative (and I would argue better) approach. If it has enough of an advantage over alternatives, it will attract those who would benefit/appreciate its difference.

Finally, what about virtualization solutions today? Perhaps a vmware (or some other) image of a Linux distro with emacspeak properly set up and configured could be created. This would allow novices to "test drive" emacspeak without having to take the full Linux/emacs/emacspeak plunge. I think this might make Alex's goal of bringing emacspeak to the windows masses easier, as they would not have to worry about the initial hardware question.

Hmm - not sure. Those who are uncomfortable with the hardware and Linux are probably going to be just as uncomfortable with an appliance approach and dealing with virtual machines/images etc. 

I think a better approach would be to help out one of the 'specialist' distros like vinux to make sure the emacspeak they include in the distro is as robust and optimally configured as possible. People can then run from the live cd image to try things out and later, if they want to, either do a dual boot or a virtual image. 


On Fri, Feb 11, 2011 at 5:38 PM, Jason White <jason@jasonjgw.net> wrote:
Alex Midence <alex.midence@gmail.com> wrote:

> I've noticed in my learning of Emacspeak that, while there are plenty
> of reference materials, the number of up-to-date tutorial-style
> documents geared towards a raw newbie are somewhat sparse and spread
> out and are written in a way that someone coming from a strong Ms
> Windows background would find rather laborious to follow, increasing
> their learning curve unnecessarily.  This is probably because a lot of
> it was written by people who have used Linux for longer than Windows
> has been accessible (oh, what a battle that has been!) and, as is the
> case with many a developer, are more comfortable writing code than
> writing documents.

Actually, T.V. Raman, the author of Emacspeak, is one of the most accomplished
technical writers that I have encountered - he is adept at writing prose as
well as code.

I would suggest reading his papers describing Emacspeak before you embark on
preparing a tutorial; this will give you a deeper understanding of the design
principles of the Emacspeak user interface.
> What I propose to do is to write a simple tutorial for newcomers to
> Emacspeak geared towards people who are new to command line, Linux and Emacs
> as well.

A fundamental question that I would suggest considering is this: what do such
people really need to know before they can comfortably read Emacs
documentation, manual pages, HOWTO documents and other sources?

I have read claims in several places to the effect that it's harder for former
MS-Windows users to learn a UNIX-like environment than it is for absolute
beginners who have had no prior computing experience. Presumably, to the
extent that this is the case, it is because MS-Windows users have to set aside
their prior knowledge and habits in making the adjustment. I'm only
speculating here; the last Microsoft product that I ever used was DOS 6 and I
opted entirely out of Windows in favour of Linux at that time.

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