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Re: Another Emacs icon

From: Lennart Borgman
Subject: Re: Another Emacs icon
Date: Sun, 09 Oct 2005 03:06:56 +0200
User-agent: Mozilla Thunderbird 1.0.7 (Windows/20050923)

Richard M. Stallman wrote:

I see no sense in an Emacs icon that would say "M-x".
If it says anything, it should be "Emacs" or an "E".
A picture of a GNU makes no sense as the icon for Emacs in
I believe that whether some special symbol in the icon make sense depends on the circumstances. If something is wellknown I think other rules should be applied then otherwise. For most of us here on the list think that both M-x and the picture of the GNU make sense but for people who are not that familiar with GNU or Emacs it might not do that immidiately perhaps.

Since it seems to be somewhat difficult to find acceptable icons maybe it helps if we think about what kind of icons we want. I see two main types:

1) Informative icons - those showing what the program does
2) Logo style icons - more like a logo for a company

And of course many are a mix of those. Some examples of this are the logos for Firefox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice etc. None of these include the name in the icons. Instead the icons has a style that should be easily recognizable. They all use some kind of symbolic memnonics adhering to what the programs do. In the case of OpenOffice they had been able to make several different icons with a common style for different subprograms, each with a piece of common mnemonics and a bit of dividing mnemonics.

In the case of Emacs perhaps the icon should use some mnemonic of this kind. It is however not so easy to tell what this should allude to. Some people might use Emacs for just creating documents. Other use it as a programming IDE. And for those really into it Emacs does a lot of things, mail, IRC, etc. Maybe it is a toolkit?

Another way of looking at this is to say that Emacs is different because it has history and fame. It is part of the GNU face so to say. Looking at it this way it is more a logo style icon we should have - probably with some GNU picture. And "M-x" of course has some fame too (IMHO). You have to know it to really use Emacs, of course. And M-x also alludes to the toolkit view. This way of looking at the icons is reflected in the current choice of splash screen.

Saying "Emacs" in the icon might seem to allude to the history and fame too. It is just that to me it seems unnecessary. You will not often see the icon without some text saying just "Emacs".

Well, you might guess my opinion ;-) -- but I have tried to give our choices some structure here. HTH.

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