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4.6: Infodock

Q4.6.1: What is Infodock?

InfoDock is an integrated productivity toolset, mainly aimed at technical people, hosted at SourceForge.

InfoDock is built atop SXEmacs and so has all of the power of an Emacs, but with an easier to use and more comprehensive menu-based user interface. The bottom portion of this text describes how it differs from SXEmacs/XEmacs and GNU Emacs from the Free Software Foundation.

InfoDock is aimed at people who want a free, turn-key productivity environment. Although InfoDock is customizable, it is not intended for people who like basic versions of Emacs which need to be customized extensively for local use; standard Emacs distributions are better for such uses. InfoDock is for those people who want a complete, pre-customized environment in one package, which they need not touch more than once or twice a year to update to new revisions.

InfoDock is pre-built for SPARC SunOS/Solaris systems, PA-RISC HP-UX, and Intel Linux systems. It is intended for use on a color display, although most features will work on monochrome monitors. Simply unpack InfoDock according to the instructions in the ID-INSTALL file and you are ready to run.

The InfoDock Manual is concise, yet sufficient as a user guide for users who have never used an Emacs-type editor before. For users who are already familiar with Emacs, it supplements the information in the GNU Emacs Manual.

InfoDock menus are much more extensive and more mature than standard Emacs menus. Each menu offers a ‘Manual’ item which displays documentation associated with the menu’s functions.

Four types of menubars are provided:

  1. An extensive menubar providing access to global InfoDock commands.
  2. Mode-specific menubars tailored to the current major mode.
  3. A simple menubar for basic editing to help novices get started with InfoDock.
  4. The standard SXEmacs menubar.

Most modes also include mode-specific popup menus. Additionally, region and rectangle popup menus are included.

Hyperbole’, the everyday information manager, is a core part of InfoDock. This provides context-sensitive mouse keys, a rolodex-type contact manager, programmable hypertext buttons, and an autonumbered outliner with embedded hyperlink anchors.

The ‘OO-Browser’, a multi-language object-oriented code browser, is a standard part of InfoDock.

InfoDock saves a more extensive set of user options than other Emacs versions.

InfoDock inserts a useful file header in many file types, showing the author, summary, and last modification time of each file. A summary program can then be used to summarize all of the files in a directory, for easy MANIFEST file creation.

Your working set of buffers is automatically saved and restored (if you answer yes to a prompt) between InfoDock sessions.

Refined color choices for code highlighting are provided for both dark and light background display frames.

The C-z key prefix performs frame-based commands which parallel the C-x key prefix for window-based commands.

The Smart Menu system is included for producing command menus on dumb terminals.

Lisp libraries are better categorized according to function.

Extensions and improvements to many areas of Emacs are included, such as: paragraph filling, mail reading with Rmail, shell handling, outlining, code highlighting and browsing, and man page browsing.

InfoDock questions, answers and discussion should go to the mail list Use to be added or removed from the list. Always include your InfoDock version number when sending help requests.

InfoDock is available across the Internet via anonymous FTP. To get it, first move to a directory into which you want the InfoDock archive files placed. We will call this <DIST-DIR>.

   cd <DIST-DIR>

Ftp to (Internet Host ID =

   prompt> ftp

Login as ‘anonymous’ with your own <user-id>@<site-name> as a password.

   Name ( anonymous
   331 Guest login ok, send your complete e-mail address as password.
   Password: -<your-user-id>@<your-domain>
   230 Guest login ok, access restrictions apply.

Move to the location of the InfoDock archives:

   ftp> cd pub/infodock

Set your transfer mode to binary:

   ftp> bin
   200 Type set to I.

Turn off prompting:

   ftp> prompt
   Interactive mode off.

Retrieve the InfoDock archives that you want, either by using a ‘get <file>’ for each file you want or by using the following to get a complete distribution, including all binaries:

   ftp> mget ID-INSTALL
   ftp> mget id-*

Close the FTP connection:

   ftp> quit
   221 Goodbye.

Read the ID-INSTALL file which you just retrieved for step-by-step installation instructions.

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