modernization of emacs - lisp

This is a discussion on modernization of emacs - lisp ; I got the following email regarding my article The Modernization of Emacs http://xahlee.org/emacs/modernization.html ------------------------------------- Hi Xah, I just read your essay on the modernization of emacs and I agree. My personal experience validates what you're saying about Emacs needing a ...

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modernization of emacs

  1. Default modernization of emacs

    I got the following email regarding my article

    The Modernization of Emacs
    http://xahlee.org/emacs/modernization.html

    -------------------------------------
    Hi Xah,

    I just read your essay on the modernization of emacs and I agree. My
    personal experience validates what you're saying about Emacs needing a
    big overhaul. I'm a CS graduate student in the [...] University (...).
    Over here, Emacs is the standard - it is the editor that's introduced
    to first year students in the 'Introduction to Computer Science'
    course and most of the students keep on using it throughout their
    studies. The amazing thing is that almost all the students I know are
    ignorant of Emac's features, even the trivial ones. I very often sit
    with a fellow student and find that she doesn't know how to copy and
    paste using the keyboard - they use the mouse to highlight a piece of
    text, then the middle button to paste. These people know the CUA key
    bindings of course, but they tried them once in Emacs, and they didn't
    work, so they gave up.

    There are many examples of things not working right by default. I'll
    just give the first one that pops to mind. A few days ago, a guy
    wanted my help to find a compiling error. The Java compiler said that
    his class didn't have a main() function. He showed me the file in
    Emacs, I found his main function, I carefully read it and everything
    seemed fine. But the compiler kept insisting. After a few minutes, I
    realized the main() function was in a commented-out block. I would
    have seen it immediately, but his buffer DIDN'T USE SYNTAX
    HIGHLIGHTING so the commented-out region didn't stand out. I told him
    - man, you have to use syntax highlighting when you're programming,
    not doing so is simply unprofessional and down right silly. So he
    asked, "well, how do I turn it on?". I said, " you can do Alt-x java-
    mode", and there's also a command that you can put in .emacs that will
    turn it on by default. But I didn't remember the command, so I told
    him to look it up. Which he didn't do, obviously, because most people
    are lazy that way. Default settings are everything.

    Thanks for "fighting the good fight".

    [signed...]
    ------------------

    Thank you.

    Xah
    xah@xahlee.org
    http://xahlee.org/


  2. Default Re: modernization of emacs

    On 26 out, 11:56, Xah Lee <x...@xahlee.org> wrote:
    > I got the following email regarding my article
    >
    > The Modernization of Emacshttp://xahlee.org/emacs/modernization.html


    # (This achieve 3 things: (1) Cut/Copy/Paste has shortcuts with x/c/v
    keys; (2) Text selections are highlighted; (3) Typing while a region
    is selected will delete/over-ride it.)

    that is, make it another clone of notepad. The reason why Emacs has
    all those quirks is historical: notepad didn't exist back then, nor
    Windows, nor DOS... thus, vi and emacs had to invent their own set of
    keybindings...

    # Get rid of the "*scratch*" buffer.

    yeah, and while we're at it, get rid of elisp and replace it with
    java, thus making it a worthy contender to Eclipse...

    frankly, rewriting emacs from scratch or making it work just like
    Microsoft teaches us is an oxymoron...


  3. Default Re: modernization of emacs

    On 27 Okt., 01:39, namekuseijin <namekusei...@gmail.com> wrote:

    > that is, make it another clone of notepad. The reason why Emacs has
    > all those quirks is historical:


    And modernization is the process of getting rid of historical
    mistakes.
    The keybinding of emacs is completely stupid rubbish. I wouldn't use
    CUA for it but a much better and more consistent binding is definitely
    a plus.

    Even after 10 years of emacs i knew only around 20 shortcuts. While
    they
    were impressive enough for other guys, it wasn't enough for me. Today
    there
    are much better editors available then emacs or vi.


  4. Default Re: modernization of emacs

    On Oct 26, 11:39 am, namekuseijin <namekusei...@gmail.com> wrote:
    «...frankly, rewriting emacs from scratch or making it work just like
    Microsoft teaches us is an oxymoron...»

    I think your concern is addressed in

    The Modernization of Emacs
    http://xahlee.org/emacs/modernization.html

    did you not read it?

    I exerpt below from 2 of its Frequently Asked Questions section:

    Q: Emacs's ways are technically superior. It should not change.

    A: Emac's user interface, when compared to modern software
    application's user interface, is complex and unusual, however, there's
    no basis whatsoever of it being actually a superior design with
    regards to any sensible metrics. (in fact, much of emacs's user
    interface are due to historical reasons. That is, how computers are in
    1980s.)

    For example, let's consider emacs's system of keyboard shortcuts. For
    a keyboard shortcut system, we might judge its quality based on
    several aspects. Here are some examples of consideration:

    * Is it easy to learn? (is it familiar to most people? Is it easy
    to remember?)
    * Is it ergonomic? (Are most frequently used commands's keyboard
    shortcuts easy to type? Are more frequently used commands have easier
    to type shortcuts than less frequently used commands?)
    * Are most frequently used commands all have a keyboard shortcut?
    * Is the shortcut system somehow consistent and extensible?

    Emacs's keyboard shortcuts system, is good only with respect to the
    last item. Emacs keyboard shortcuts are perhaps one of the most
    difficult to learn among software, and is also one of the most
    difficult to remember. The worst aspect of emacs's keyboard shortcuts,
    is that it is ergonomically painful. (Many emacs-using programer
    celebrities have injured their hands with emacs. (e.g. Richard
    Stallman↗, Jamie Zawinski↗), and emacs's Ctrl and Meta combinations
    are most cited as the major turn-off to potential users among
    programers)

    Computer keyboard is a hardware interface, and the mapping of commands
    to the key press combinations can be considered from a Operation
    Research (ergonomic) point of view. The keyboard hardware itself can
    be designed with consideration of ergonomics (that's why we have split
    and curved keyboards), but consideration of what functions to map to
    what key presses is also non-trivial if the software has large number
    of functions, or if the software is mission critical, or the software
    is used for repetitive, long durations of human-machine interaction
    (such as data-entry, programing, writing). Think of it this way:
    consider a airplane cockpit, filled with knobs, dials, buttons, and
    switches. Now, if your job is to map the airplane control functions to
    these switches, what are the issues to consider?

    If we take careful consideration on creating a keyboard shortcut
    system for emacs, it is not difficult to create a system that is
    superior in some pure technical sense than the emacs's shortcut
    system.

    For a full discourse, see: Why Emacs's Keyboard Shortcuts Are Painful.

    Aside from keyboard shortcuts system, other user interface aspects of
    emacs are also questionable. For example, one major aspect of emacs
    operation is that it uses a single window for multiple purposes and
    files. Emacs is this way not because of a design decision, but rather
    due to historical reasons. Computer resources in the 1980s are very
    limited. When emacs is around, graphical system of showing “windows”
    is not practically available, and the emacs's method of using the
    screen (the monochrome text-only monitor) for presenting multiple
    tasks (“buffers”) is actually a very advanced user interface design
    not available in software of that era. When graphical systems becomes
    practical in the 1990s, drawing a window still takes a lot memory, and
    opening multiple windows is slow and impractical.

    Modern software interface (say, post 2000) usually uses one window per
    file (or task), and or show tabs if multiple tasks are represented in
    a single window. However, emacs's buffer system doesn't provide the
    tabs visual clue. Compared to the modern standard of tabbed window,
    emacs's buffer interface is inferior because it is less intuitive.
    Arguably, emacs's operation methods may be more efficient for expert
    users. 20 years ago, efficiency for expert users may out weight the
    ease of use for majority of average users. But in today computing era,
    computers are standard tools in every household, efficiency and ease
    of use for general users is as important for professional users. Even
    for professional users, it is openly questionable that emacs's ways of
    operation induced by its default user interface allows more efficient
    operation than a user interface based on modern software conventions.
    (this can be certified by having 2 programmers roughly equally
    experienced or skilled in using emacs. One person uses traditional
    Emacs, the other uses a emacs with modernized interface (such as Mac's
    Aquamacs), then compare their efficiency in finishing a set of
    programing tasks.)

    Note: we are not disputing the general power, flexibility, and
    qualities of emacs. Emacs, with a powerful embedded language lisp, and
    consequently embodies many software applications other than text
    editing (email, ftp, dired, calc, ...etc), has induced certain system
    of user interface that is all consistent and unique in comparison to
    modern software applications. We do not advocate that this is bad.
    Specifically, we only propose a very few trivial items for interface
    or documentation changes as listed in this article. Most are simply
    turning on some features by feault and or changing some terminologies
    in the documentation. They have no bearings on how emacs operate in
    general.


    Q: Why should emacs want to be popular and why should emacs change to
    conform the majority?

    A: This attitude has plagued unix and computer geekers for decades. In
    the early 1990s (DOS and unix), tech geekers would sneer at graphical
    menus and mouse, with hordes of reasons how pure text interface, the
    command line, and or keyboard operations are sufficient and superior
    than graphical user interface or using a mouse. This seems ridiculous
    today, but such voices are commonly seen all over newsgroups. (Since
    about 2000, linuxes are in a frenzied race to copy whole-sale of
    Microsoft Windows's user interface ( KDE↗, GNOME↗) trying to make
    itself easy-to-use.)

    The reason for these type of attitude, is almost never a sensible
    alternative view about the topic in discussion, but a show of machismo
    and superiority complex. (perhaps more than 95% of online computing
    forum users are males, and majority of them are aged under 25.) The
    person who utters such opinion, made sure in the way he writes that he
    is a expert in the “more difficult to use” method or tools and would
    prefer things not to be “dumbed down”.

    It is silly to retort “Why should emacs want to be popular?”. It is
    like asking “why do you want to live longer?” when someone is picky
    about healthy food, or “why should you want to look beautiful?” when
    someone dresses up.

    Xah
    xah@xahlee.org
    http://xahlee.org/


  5. Default Re: modernization of emacs


    Some entity, AKA llothar <llothar@web.de>,
    wrote this mindboggling stuff:
    (selectively-snipped-or-not-p)


    > Even after 10 years of emacs i knew only around 20 shortcuts. While
    > they
    > were impressive enough for other guys, it wasn't enough for me. Today
    > there
    > are much better editors available then emacs or vi.


    Just hire a secretary to do the scribling , that is much easier.

    Cor

    --
    Alle schraifvauden zijn opzettelijk, teneinde ieder lafaard de kans te
    geven over spelling te zeuren in plaats van in te gaan op de inhoud.
    (defvar My-Computer '((OS . "GNU/Emacs") (IPL . "GNU/Linux")))
    http://www.clsnet.nl/mail.php

  6. Default Re: modernization of emacs

    On 27 oct, 11:18, Xah Lee <x...@xahlee.org> wrote:

    What about Xemacs ? I'm glad after having spent 20 years to configure
    emacs, -while using Vi. Anyway, why not Xemacs ? You have 3000 buttons
    to find out in menus, what ever they mean, W3 which is dead, ange-ftp,
    etc.

    L


  7. Default Re: modernization of emacs

    Cor Gest <cor@clsnet.nl> writes:

    > Some entity, AKA llothar <llothar@web.de>,
    > wrote this mindboggling stuff:
    > (selectively-snipped-or-not-p)
    >
    >
    >> Even after 10 years of emacs i knew only around 20 shortcuts. While
    >> they
    >> were impressive enough for other guys, it wasn't enough for me. Today
    >> there
    >> are much better editors available then emacs or vi.


    no, there will never be any editor better than the GNU Emacs

    >
    > Just hire a secretary to do the scribling , that is much easier.


    The GNU Emacs is for serious editing, not scribbling, unlike Notepad

    Klaus Schilling

  8. Default Re: modernization of emacs


  9. Default Re: modernization of emacs

    Cor Gest <cor@clsnet.nl> writes:

    > Some entity, AKA llothar <llothar@web.de>,
    > wrote this mindboggling stuff:
    > (selectively-snipped-or-not-p)
    >
    >
    >> Even after 10 years of emacs i knew only around 20 shortcuts. While
    >> they
    >> were impressive enough for other guys, it wasn't enough for me. Today
    >> there
    >> are much better editors available then emacs or vi.

    >
    > Just hire a secretary to do the scribling , that is much easier.


    If it takes llothar 10 years to learn 20 shortcuts, I'd
    suggest that Notepad may be more appropriate than Emacs - for llothar.

  10. Default Re: modernization of emacs

    On 27 out, 03:26, llothar <llot...@web.de> wrote:
    > And modernization is the process of getting rid of historical
    > mistakes.


    It's one of the most ancient pieces of software still in active use
    today. In this timeline, CUA trends have come and gone, but emacs and
    vi have been thoroughly consistent with their own way of doing
    things. And very productive at it, a very good reason for their
    continued usage.

    > Even after 10 years of emacs i knew only around 20 shortcuts.


    poor you.


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