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Re: delete-selection-mode (was: Put scroll-bar on right by default on UN

From: Stephen J. Turnbull
Subject: Re: delete-selection-mode (was: Put scroll-bar on right by default on UNIX.)
Date: Thu, 18 Mar 2010 13:40:14 +0900

Alan Mackenzie writes:

 > The answer is to ask them why they want this.  C-w is easy to type, as is
 > <delete>.

I can't speak for "them," but I want DEL to *delete* the region
because *kill-region* is very often *not* what I want.  Ie, I do not
want the deleted text on the kill ring.  It's also often useful to me
to have the text being replaced on screen as I begin to type the
replacement text, rather than delete and insert separately.  These
small differences really matter, a microsecond here, a half-second
there, it starts to add up to a noticably smoother experience.

 > delete-select-mode is such an irritating distraction

In Emacsen without zmacs-regions/transient-mark-mode on, I agree
strongly.  In Emacs with t-m-m, I disagree strongly.

Yes, veteran users will find the change in defaults (both t-m-m and
delsel, whether simultaneously or sequentially) an irritating
distraction.  There should be a way for veterans to tell Emacs "Read
my lips: No New UI Features", but sadly enough, there isn't.  But vets
know how to turn off such annoyances quickly and permanently.

 > that it should only be enabled for those who really, truly want it.

Which is almost everybody with either no experience or the leisure to
spend a very frustrating 3 days (what it took me to adapt to
zmacs-regions, 15 years ago) to 1 week retraining muscle memory.
t-m-m + delsel is a simple, global improvement as a default *for the
new user*.

 > Emacs isn't about taking things for granted.  It's about
 > efficiency, about minimising keystrokes, about not getting in the
 > users' way.  How about improving the documentation/menu-settings/
 > whatever so that these beginners find what they're looking for?

That's awfully selfish of you.  You know how to find all this stuff,
several different ways.  The beginners aren't even aware that help can
actually be helpful!  (Have you ever been sentenced to trying to work
on a Windows box's configuration or even the Un*x side of a Mac, with
only the platform help as documentation?  Please try it some time
before you ask n00bs to rely on Emacs help -- there's nothing in their
experience to even hint that something so useful is possible!)

Emacs newbies are busy just getting used to fundamental differences
that really matter (the ability to navigate by mark, useful and
consistently accessible histories for almost all commands that take
arguments, motion by semantic text units bigger than words, extreme
customizability via minor modes as well as various options, ability to
use the same editor and commands for tasks as disparate as reading
netnews and cleaning up a directory full of junk files, ... and oh,
yes, "online help" that's really help-full).

Why not give them these very efficient patterns that have proven
themselves not only in software for the braindead, but in daily usage
by thousands of Emacs users as well?

 > No.  We do not want to send Emacs down the slippery slope towards
 > lowest common denominator editors.  We want to encourage Emacs
 > users to use Emacs efficiently, taking advantage of its many
 > features.

Of which t-m-m plus delsel is one.  I'm only sad that you aren't able
to take advantage of it. :^)

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