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Re: Default Emacs keybindings (was: Re: Menu suggestion)

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: Default Emacs keybindings (was: Re: Menu suggestion)
Date: 26 Apr 2004 17:16:04 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.09 (Gnus v5.9.0) Emacs/21.3.50

Alan Mackenzie <address@hidden> writes:

> On Mon, 26 Apr 2004, Per Abrahamsen wrote:
> >In that last decade, a (rough and partial) consensus on key bindings has
> >been building.  A user can switch between MacOS, MS Windows, Gnome, and
> >KDE applications, and still expect a certain level of consistency
> >between the bindings.
> The point of these bindings is surely ease of learning rather than ease
> of use:  "Just hold down the <shift> and move the cursor!"
> >I believe it would be in the best long time interest of our
> >community, if Emacs joined that consensus.  In practice, the CUA
> >bindings (not the CUA code) should be default, and the
> >documentation should reflect that.  A very visible and complete
> >"traditional" mode would be needed though, at least as good as CUA
> >mode, just doing the opposite.
> I can't agree there.

Me neither.  If we have a need for a separate significantly different
traditional mode, we lose most of our advantage.  CUA-mode, IIRC,
assigns special meaning to its characters only when there is an active
selection.  It is a compromise, of course.  (I think we still are not
there with regard to consistent selection behavior where we should be,
but that's a somewhat different problem).

If what I think I understood from the CUA descriptions is correct, no
key sequences starting with C-c or C-x can be used with an active
selection.  For example, selecting an active region and using
C-c C-e in AUCTeX (inserts environment around an active region, if
there is one) would not work in CUA mode, ever.  Neither would any of
a number of minor mode bindings designed to also work on active

> Emacs is very solidly in the "easy to use, a pig to learn" camp.  If
> you make make CUA bindings default so as to make it easier to learn
> superficially, you'll make it harder to learn "properly".  The
> result will be masses of users learning it only superficially, and
> thus not getting the full benefit of Emacs.

Which is their full right to do.  99% of all video recorder owners
learn the operation of their device only superficially, thus not
getting the full benefit of video recorders.

Still, nobody suggests that the "solution" is to make the handling of
a video recorder so obfuscate to the average person familiar with
other devices, that he will be lost without reading through an
instruction booklet.

Who is to decide that somebody being able to utilize a tool without
having full grasp of all its possibilities is a bad thing?

> >In my day job, I write a text based scientific application.  I use
> >Emacs to edit the setup files and run the application myself, of
> >course.  But when I teach people to use the application, I cannot
> >in good conscience teach them to use it with Emacs.  The course is
> >"nitrogen dynamics in soil", not "Emacs 101".  Instead I pick a
> >lesser editor, one they haven't used before, but which they can
> >pickup in no time because it stays within the consensus UI.
> With all due respect, Emacs is no program for casual users.

With all due respect, who are you to decree who should not be using

> It's for serious programmers or other writers, who're going to be
> spending thousands of hours writing/hacking, and for whom the
> ~hundred hours learning time is a very sound investment.

I am a serious programmer and other writer.  And my learning time is
not a sound investment if I can't use Emacs as an application platform
for editing functionality that I can never hope to have customers of
mine wanting to use.

> Even if Emacs was equipped with CUA bindings, it still wouldn't be a
> good tool to give nitrogen hackers.

So we need more changes if we want to have Emacs at one time something
which does not require turning people into hackers before they can
expect to be comfortable using Emacs.

That's ok.  Nobody expects that we will finish this task in a single
step.  And blindly enabling any mode that is supposed to make things
more mainstream-like, without assessing its drawbacks and trying to
remove them where possible, would be insane.

But such modes at least can provide a basis for discussion in what
manner we can accommodate people without a determination to completely
start from scratch before being allowed to start using a good editor.

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum

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