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I see that my question Prevent Texmaker from stealing focus after compiling a LaTeX document? received 4 close votes, all arguing that the question is off-topic on this StackExchange.

I also see on https://tex.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic that "Related software and tools, BibTeX, MakeIndex, Lyx, etc." are on-topic.

Did I misread the help/on-topic page or those close votes are all wrong? I don't mind posting on SU instead, but last time I did for a similar question people advised me to post here.

  • Related discussion; meta.tex.stackexchange.com/questions/3204/… – percusse Aug 31 '14 at 12:54
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    I was one of the close-voters (sorry for not commenting); Joseph's answer addresses the concerns quite well. Decisions by the community may be odd at times: some are driven by intuition and experience, while others or driven by incentives (badges). If we make a mistake you've done the right thing in addressing it on Meta. There's also chat. – Werner Aug 31 '14 at 13:38
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    @Werner For me as an user, an answer ‘This is not TeX related’, with an explanation what the real problem is, is very informative and helpful. I cannot understand how this can be off-topic. In borderline cases, we should be careful with the ‘off-topic’ (or ’duplicate’) voting. TeX editor is on topic, and then ‘This is not a TeX problem’ related to that editor, should also be on topic. If not, you soon have the same question popping up. Have a look on all the question how to install (TeX and other) features in Emacs and Vim on this site. – Sveinung Sep 5 '14 at 11:10
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At present, none of the close voters have left comments on why they are voting to close. Thus the best we can do is speculate. First, I'll look at the general case I think we've got here, then move on to your question specifically.

Questions about (TeX-focused) editors are on topic in general, but there is an issue when an editor simply cannot do a particular thing. While we can answer questions of the form 'How do I change the settings in editor X to use tool Y?', we can't hope to give an answer to 'How do I add missing feature Z to editor X?' beyond

This is a feature request for editor X: report it to the maintainer.

Such answers don't really add value, and so the convention is that a question which is a feature request is off-topic. (The same applies to for example out-and-out bug reports.)

Of course, the question then becomes one of knowing if the post is a feature request or not: it's not always obvious. In particular, it's not always obvious that the person asking the question knew in advance that they were posting a feature request rather than believing that they'd 'missed something' in the editor. I'd therefore hope that anyone voting to close on this basis would leave a comment, and that at least some delay between a first suggestion of closing and others voting for closure would happen.

As altering the binaries for a program can only be done by the maintainer(s), this doesn't just apply to TeX StackExchange but to any open forum. Something like a message board run by the author of an editor/application is of course different. (As discussed in comments, when I say the changes 'can' only be made by the maintainer I'm thinking primarily that in order for a change to get into an official release of an editor the maintainer has to be happy to add it. Individuals may be allowed to modify the source of the editor they use and recompile it, depending on the license which applies, but the skills needed for this are not on-topic for our site.)


Looking at your specific question in this light, I note that other (La)TeX editors I've used which have a 'stand alone' preview window also expect the focus to switch to that window at the end of the compile cycle. That applies both to ones where the preview binary is separate (e.g. WinEdt + Sumatra) and those where it's all one binary (e.g. TeXworks). At least in part I suspect that's because otherwise it might be tricky to know when the compile finished, if you've switched away, but also because a lot of programs seem to grab the focus when they refresh, a step that is needed to show the updated PDF. As such, without a clear statement on e.g. the Texmaker website that such a feature is available, I'd say your question does seem to fall into the 'feature request' category.

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    Note that the entire 'off topic' business is a bit of a pain: the problem is that there is no better way to vote to close something that is not answered 'by convention' for whatever reason. – Joseph Wright Aug 31 '14 at 14:33
  • Thanks, interesting. When looking for a feature in a software it's indeed hard to know whether the feature is missing. I would also add that beyond modifying the application itself, there exist other ways to prevent an application from stealing the focus, e.g. Preventing applications from stealing focus, so even though the requested feature does not exist in the program, there might be external ways to implement it. I was therefore hoping that someone on this SE had found some solution, or tried enough solutions to pretty confidently say there is no way. – Franck Dernoncourt Aug 31 '14 at 15:47
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    @FranckDernoncourt But these "other ways" are completely unrelated to TeX, because they are based on the window manager etc., and not on a checkbox in TeXmaker or a line in some configuration file. – yo' Aug 31 '14 at 22:17
  • @tohecz Unrelated to TeX but related to TeXmaker. I'm cool to post to SU instead anyway, though I believe it is not to the benefit of the tex SE community. I just wanted to have a reference meta next time some SU guy points me to the tex SE. – Franck Dernoncourt Aug 31 '14 at 22:41
  • @FranckDernoncourt Well, at any case, this is one for a feature request to the program maintainers, because it can likely be very easily achieved, and it will work much better than some WM-related fix. – yo' Aug 31 '14 at 22:47
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    'As altering the binaries for a program can only be done by the maintainer(s)...'. This is false for all software for which source is available under a licence which permits modification. Moreover, that is true for a great deal of the software discussed on TeX SE. Perhaps you meant, 'As altering the binaries for a program is usually best done by the maintainer(s)...' or similar? – cfr Sep 1 '14 at 1:07
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    @cfr At least two things here. Taking a position on editors similar to that on e.g. LaTeX packages, it really is down to the maintainer of an editor to make changes. (We can suggest changes to the code in a package, but those can be applied at the document level, something that is not the case for an editor.) Second, independent of the license, the code for editors is written in something other than TeX and is therefore best addressed elsewhere (e.g. StackOverflow). So while 'can' is perhaps a little strong it represents how I see things: not something we as a community can do. – Joseph Wright Sep 1 '14 at 6:03
  • @cfr I guess what I'm getting at is that if I made some change to the (license-free) code of an editor I'd take the line that I had to change the name of the resulting binary as it's not the same as the release from the maintainer. Thus I can't alter editor X, I can only create a modified program very similar to editor X, which has features I've changed. – Joseph Wright Sep 1 '14 at 6:07
  • @cfr I'd also add that 'can' here includes the issue that compiling a binary requires a tool chain and skills quite different from those needed to create (La)TeX documents. Again, this isn't an absolute barrier to an end user altering an editor but does make it very tricky for them: I'd have no hope of being able to do it, for example. So there 'can' is in the 'it is reasonably feasible' area rather than the 'technically/legally possible'. – Joseph Wright Sep 1 '14 at 6:11
  • @cfr I've made an edit to try to point out that I'm not really talking about license issues more about having an 'official' feature added and about the difference in skills required for changing binaries. – Joseph Wright Sep 1 '14 at 6:22
  • That's much clearer - thanks for taking the trouble to clarify it. ('Can' is a slippery word in English...) – cfr Sep 1 '14 at 14:07
  • @JosephWright May be a part of the problem is that there are some very 'trigger happy' badge collectors at this site, doing whatever possible to collect a new badge? I suggest that there is imposed an obligation to give descriptive reason before closing a question! – Sveinung Sep 5 '14 at 10:20
  • @Sveinung That may be an issue, certainly. I've no interest in doing things to get badges, and I'm sure most of the members are the same: I do things because they are hopefully helpful, and sometimes the Powers like to give out rewards. – Joseph Wright Sep 5 '14 at 10:24
  • @JosephWright Should have referred to my answer here. The rewarding system needs an overhaul, because it often is counterproductive. – Sveinung Sep 5 '14 at 11:05

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