# Latex “command examples” lookup / reference - from the command line?

I am already very fond of the `texdef` tool, which is used on the command line, something like this:

``````\$ texdef -t latex \newcounter

\newcounter:
macro:#1->\expandafter \@ifdefinable \csname c@#1\endcsname {\@definecounter {#1}}\@ifnextchar [{\@newctr {#1}}{}
``````

That is, we can lookup: search for and find the definition of `\newcounter` from the command line - which I think is great.

However, often I am in need for something else. Like right now, I need to use `\newcounter`, and since I rarely use counters, I've completely forgotten what the correct syntax of usage (i.e. where I use `\the` and stuff). And then I always have to look up online `:)`, which means search engine, then click on hits, then it's not always the information that I hoped for, then back in browser, etc etc.. And not the least, I cannot be offline for this process.

So, basically, what I'd need is a command line tool, with which I can look up some short information about a command, and hopefully an example; for instance, here's a pseudo:

``````\$ texexampleref  \newcounter
``````
``````% \newcounter: creates a new counter (dimen?)

% example usage:

% create a new counter that is automatically set to zero
\newcounter{NameOfTheNewCounter}
% To increase the counter, use:
\stepcounter{NameOfTheNewCounter}
% ... or (add number 1):
% To set the counter value explicitly, use:
\setcounter{NameOfTheNewCounter}{12}
% To show the counter value (typeout)
\typeout{ Counter value is: \theNameOfTheNewCounter }
% ...
``````

Here, I borrowed a bit from LaTeX/Counters - Wikibooks as content. Basically, I'd hope for the info lines to be prefixed with a percent sign `%` -- so that the entire example snippet is pastable, say, in a `pdflatex` terminal shell; and it would be "compilable", in the sense that it would produce some output there in the terminal (at least a typeout to standard output). And of course - at least in this case - the same example can be delivered for queries about `\stepcounter` and `\addtocounter` and `\setcounter`, too.

I kind of doubt this exists - for while not terribly comlicated, I can imagine this tool to be a maintenance nightmare `:)` (although, I could also imagine a superlong Community Wiki here, with user-editable examples, which could serve as one downloadable database source for the tool ... or, if there is a single command used for marking examples in `.dtx` files and such, maybe examples could be automatically harvested). But still, I'd like to know for sure - so my question is: is there such a tool out there?

• I'm so glad you asked this as I had no idea anything like `texdef` existed... [Clearly I cannot answer your question - sorry.] – cfr Jun 26 '14 at 1:37
• Well I use a book if I want to look up such things. At first the LaTex Companion. It even shows related commands like `\@addtoreset` and `\value`. Btw: `\theNameOfTheNewCounter` is not the value but the representation of the counter. – Ulrike Fischer Jun 26 '14 at 8:20

The NASA LaTeX site provides about the right amount of information for what you want: http://www.giss.nasa.gov/tools/latex/index.html

You could access it from the command line with a text browser like `elinks`. For example, on a Unixy system, you could put this in your `.bash_aliases` or other appropriate dot file:

``````function texhelp {
Usage: In the terminal, type `texhelp newcounter`.
NASA offers their whole documentation site for download, so you could do an offline version of this, still using the text browser; or you could strip the HTML files and then use `grep`, etc.
• +1, this is a good idea. I could also imagine a similar setup with a `texhelp` "elvi" for SurfRaw. – Paul Gessler Aug 20 '14 at 1:43