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[Texmacs-dev] Experiences from extensive usage

From: Norbert Nemec
Subject: [Texmacs-dev] Experiences from extensive usage
Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2005 12:24:02 +0200
User-agent: Mozilla Thunderbird 1.0.2 (X11/20050404)

Hi there,

over the past few weeks I have been using TeXmacs extensively for
preparing slides for an important talk. From that, I gathered a number
of experiences that i would like to share. Several of these things have
probably been discussed before. Still several weeks of power-usage might
put them into a new perspective.

First, the general impression:

TeXmacs definitely is fit for demanding production use. There is room
for improvement in details, but apart from that, TeXmacs definitely is a
mature environment to do real work.

Now as for the several aspects where I see room for improvement:

1) Positioning of elements

preparing slides means arranging pictures, text, formulas and graphical
elements onto a page. For this it would be a huge improvement to have
floating elements that can be freely positioned on the page using the
mouse. What I imagine is a floating box element that is anchored
somewhere in the text, has a position either relative to the anchor
itself, contains arbitrary multiparagraph content and can be moved and
resized freely by mouse. It should be simply layered on top or below the
other content without influencing the flow of other elements.

2) Indication of table layout with by viewing "grid lines"

When moving through a document with the cursor, you always nicely see
the light cyan or purple lines of text regions that you have entered. I
would propose one simple but extremely helpful extension to this:

When entering a table with the cursor, there should not only be a solid
line around the whole table, but a grid of dashed lines between all the
cells of this table.

3) Behavior of multiparagraph content in table cells

lacking a way to freely position elements, I instead used tables to do
the page layout, making extensive use of multiparagraph cells.

Unfortunately, multiparagraph text in a cell is limited to compared to
regular text in several respects:

* you cannot align individual paragraphs (left, right, centered, block)
with respect to the width of the cell
* elements that usually span the paragraph width (like equation, hrule
or sub-tables set to span paragraph width) do not adjust to the width of
the surrounding cell but still have the full width of the page.

4) Pressing <return> inside a table cell

Currently, when you press <return> inside a regular (not
multi-paragraph) cell, it does the same as <Alt>-<down>. Instead, I
would propose to make it automatically convert the cell to
multi-paragraph and work within the cell. Maybe, this is a matter of
taste, but for my working habits, this would make a lot of sense: why do
you need two different key-combinations for creating new rows? Why
should you dig through menus to make cells multi-paragraph? (Or is there
another simple way to switch a cell to multi-paragraph that I missed?)

5) adding markup for multiple paragraphs

Do the following:
* mark a single word
* press <backslash>
* type "bf"
* press <return>

This works perfectly not only for "bf" but many other kinds of markup
(also "with" and others)

Now try this:
* mark two consecutive paragraphs
* press <backslash>
-> the marking is ignored!!!

Why doesn't this very convenient way of adding markup work for more than
one paragraph?


So much for now. There were other points as well, but the most important
things are said.

Greetings, and thanks again for creating TeXmacs. It really worked great
for me, and I can only hope that this report may help improving it even


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