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Subject: Re: DOCBOOK-APPS: best tool for docbook?

At 08:11 AM 8/22/01 -0500, Dennis Grace wrote:
>Well, Holger, it may be just that some of us find emacs a clumsy,
>cumbersome editor. If that sounds harsh, you should hear what some of the
>other writers in my group have to say about emacs.

responding to Holger's comment

>>I'm wondering why noone dared to mention Emacs+PSGML mode,
>>especially the psgmlx package maintained by Mark Johnson.
>>It makes setting up Emacs and PSGML a breeze. You just run the
>>"test" shell script that's included, and everything is done for you.
>>Besides, you get a lot of different color themes for syntax
>>highlighting to choose from. And, last but not least, it's freely
>>            Holger

Emacs, with all of its customizability, is still more a programmer's editor 
than a wordsmith's. I've offered it to a variety of people working on 
various projects; some take to it, and some don't.  What I have wound up 
doing is
1. providing specific customizations that make the task at hand easier 
(i.e. adding menu items that run the processors people need to run, and 
inserting templates for various document structures).
2. pointing out that people are free to use any editor they want to as long 
as they can produce documents that process correctly

I think the latter point is key -- editors, like some other tools, are a 
matter of intense personal preference to some people (including me, 
BTW).  Allowing people to use their personal favorite, even if *I* think 
it's a clumsy, cumbersome choice, smooths over a lot of potential anguish.

I had one programmer/author/analyst [since my experience in this area is 
with literate programming, the distinction is a little vague :-] who wrote 
extensive customizations in MS Word's VBA scripting language, because 
that's the tool he was comfortable with.  Productive?  I think so.  While 
it took him a couple of days to write the customizations, and he 
periodically had to tweak them, over the three years he was working for me, 
I think using a tool he was very comfortable with more than made up for the 
time he spent working on it.

Would I pick MS Word to write marked up computer programs? Not hardly.  But 
the choice worked for him.  And I got a lot better response from people by 
saying in essence "I use Emacs, and here are the customizations I 
use.  You're welcome to use them, or you can use your own favorite 
editor.  I can give you training and support if you're using Emacs; if you 
use a different editor, you're more or less on your own" than I would have 
by forcing this particular group to write in any particular tool.

But this diverges somewhat from the question of what people think of the 
various editors.  I will merely reiterate that having tried a variety of 
(freeware and evaluation copy) XML/SGML editors, I personally continue to 
use Emacs.

Mark B. Wroth

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