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RE: delete-selection-mode (was: Put scroll-bar on right bydefaultonUNIX.

From: Drew Adams
Subject: RE: delete-selection-mode (was: Put scroll-bar on right bydefaultonUNIX.)
Date: Fri, 19 Mar 2010 04:05:44 -0700

Hi Alan,

> > Just say no. Just turn it off.
> We're talking about the DEFAULT version here.  Would you now please
> address the point.  That the change you want will impose a lot of pain
> on lots of people, albeit that they may be in a minority.

If you honestly believe that enabling d-s-mode by default would inflict pain on
lots of people, then don't vote to enable it. I would think you're wrong about
that, but maybe I'm wrong.

That's the point of a discussion and, hopefully, a user poll.

BTW, didn't you say much the same thing about the proposal to enable t-m-mode a
while back? If so, do you think that lots of people have in fact suffered lots
of pain as a result of that decision?

I'm not _aiming_ to inflict pain on anyone (unlike what you claim further down).
I'm content to leave the default the way it is and use d-s-mode myself. I agree
with Juri's proposal because I honestly think it would help users in general
(old and new).

But hey, what do I know? I'm just one data point. I don't see the flood of pain
you foresee. I can imagine some temporary discomfort for people who are not used
to it, but to them I would say just turn it off.

Which is what I meant above. I understand you to be one of those people - I'm
guessing you'd be better off not bothering with d-s-mode. I still think that
most people would benefit from the change. What can I say? That's my opinion.

You say that you are a sizable minority. OK, I don't doubt that you're not
alone. I'd still say that in that case either (a) we shouldn't change the
default to d-s-mode or (b) such a sizable minority would probably be better
disabling d-s-mode - just saying no.

> > The discussion is about the _default_ behavior. Are you 
> > suggesting (a) that *most* new users already suffer from
> > this problem outside Emacs and (b) they therefore need
> > the Emacs default to be different from the outside behavior?
> I'm suggesting that (a) a LOT of people suffer from this;

OK, I've got it. A LOT of people, but a minority. Fair enough.

> and (b) they would welcome Emacs being different.
> (Emacs IS different in many ways.)

Right. So lots of people who don't use Emacs are suffering, and they could stop
suffering by using Emacs without d-s-mode. Sounds good to me.

But you said they were a minority, so maybe the default shouldn't cater to them?
As long as Emacs offers a way to disable d-s-mode and thus relieve their
suffering? Which it does.

> > > > 99.999% (no, no proof; just a guess) of computer users 
> > > > out there use this "risky" behavior everyday, all day
> > > > long, without exploding (and without Emac's powerful
> > > > undo as a remedy).
> I've just spoken to my sister, an "ordinary" computer user.  She says
> she normally uses the <delete> key after marking text before typing
> further.  She also gets annoyed "every now and then" when marked text
> gets accidentally deleted by typing, though "it's not too bad" if
> there's an undo key sequence.
> Unwanted deletion of text happens for me, it happens for David, it
> happens for Miles.  Why do you not see this as a serious problem?

I don't see it as a serious problem because (a) I don't think it's that frequent
(no, no proof) and (b) we have undo.

But I don't doubt that it could be serious on an individual basis. And I think
that if others agree that it is serious enough, then d-s-mode should not be the
default. If people think it is not all that serious, and it would be enough to
just advertise how to disable d-s-mode, then it could be made the default.

My point about the outside world is that most people do manage to use this
feature all day long, everyday. You say that a sizable minority is suffering. In
that case, let's not make d-s-mode the default, and let's advertise Emacs better
to that minority, letting people know that Emacs has the remedy for their
suffering. No, I'm not kidding.

> > > I use Emacs because it is (or rather, was) a stateless editor,
> > Yes, OK, it is less modal than vi. More precisely, it has modes all
> > over the place, instead of just 2 (or is it 3) modes. But 
> > Emacs is far from stateless.
> STATES, not Modes.  Emacs WAS a stateless editor.  If you're in Foo
> Mode, any key sequence did the same action always (Modulo deliberate
> commands like C-s). 

But key sequences are mode-specific. They are modal. When you change the mode
the behavior of the key can change. As long as you are in the mode, its behavior
stays the same (typically).

Emacs doesn't seem as modal as a dialog box that won't let you do anything but
reply to a question. But that just means that Emacs lets you change modes more
easily (e.g. switch buffers).

Anyway, this is all pretty much off-topic, I think.

> With t-m-m that no longer holds.  Should d-s-m be
> made default it will be even less so.  I hold that this diminution of
> statelessness is a Bad Thing.

Sorry, I'm not convinced. But maybe (maybe?) it's not such an important point.
If you think it is, then feel free to insist.

> > > d-s-m adds in yet one more frivolous state-dependent behaviour.
> > Why frivolous?
> Because inessential.  You and a few others, so as to save a single key
> easy press (<del> or C-w) want to heap massive inconvenience 
> on others.

No, Alan. You are heaping massive unfairness on me. ;-) Believe me, I do not
want to heap massive inconvenience on others. Please don't doubt my motives.

And that is not the reason for the proposal. I've already made it clear that the
single-key saving there is compensated for by the single-key cost to deactivate
the region when necessary. I was clear that from that standpoint it is
essentially a toss-up.

> In your personal way of working, you don't suffer from unwanted
> deletion.  Others do.  What's so difficult about explicitly deleting
> text in the region as opposed to it happening as a side effect?

Hey, no problem. I'm fine with keeping the default the way it is. Especially if
it's a giant problem for lots of people, inflicting massive inconvenience and
pain. No question about it, in that case.

There was a proposal. I voted yes. I gave reasons why I think it's a good
proposal. But hey, if people will be dropping like flies under the strain and
pain, then I certainly don't want to heard promoting such a thing.

> `self-insert-command' will have state dependent behaviour.  It won't
> JUST work anymore - it will have side effects.

I don't follow you. But again, maybe it's not so important that I see this
> > d-s-mode gives you a replace feature when the region is 
> > active, but it doesn't prevent you from having an inactive
> > region and using it in other ways.
> d-s-m makes an active region a fragile region.  It is this fragility
> which causes all the pain.  Please address this issue.

How do you want me to address it? I guess I don't have an answer for you. I
certainly don't have a remedy for the amount of pain that you foresee. My only
remedy would be to advise people who experience such pain to not use d-s-mode.
It's clear that I wouldn't use it if it made me suffer so.

> > > How about addressing the question as put?  Is there any evidence
> > > whatsoever for the intrinsic goodness of d-s-m?
> > Using d-s-mode and not using it are about the same in terms of
> > advantage/disadvantage, other things being equal: you need to hit
> > an extra key in each to be able to get the behavior that the 
> > other gives you directly. With d-s-mode, the extra key is C-g
> > (or C-u to prevent); without d-s-mode, the extra key is C-w (or 
> > `delete-region'/DEL). From this point of view, it's a toss-up.
> That is mere hand waving, not evidence.

Uh, that wasn't supposed to be "evidence for the intrinsice goodness of d-s-m".
So far, that was supposed to be saying that it's a toss up.

> By evidence, I meant some sort of study or research. I take it
> you know of none.  I certainly don't.

You're right. I know of none. I'm really not all that interested in this, to be
truthful. Based only on (a) my own experience and (b) what I see of the
experience of people around me (non-Emacs users, most), I thought it was a good

I still think it's a good idea for my own use. And I still think it would help
most non-Emacs users start to use Emacs. And I still think it would help most
veteran Emcs users as well.

But it sounds like it's a horrible idea for that sizable minority that you
identified. Pestilence we certainly don't need.

So even if it would be a good default behavior for most people, given that the
pain for that sizable minority is so severe, I agree that d-s-mode should not be
the default.

We should not be in the business of "heaping massive inconvenience" and pain on
lots of people, no matter how small a minority they are.

> > 2. Outside Emacs (Yes, Virginia, there is a world outside Emacs),
> > type-to-replace is the rule for selections. Using the same 
> > rule as the default in Emacs helps both old users (only one
> > behavior) and, especially, new users.
> Who says that people outside Emacs use this rule much?  My sister
> doesn't.

OK, she doesn't. I see people do it all the time. But hey, my anecdotal sample
is as insignificant as your sister-sample. So you're right: who knows? Someone
could look for some research, but not I - I'm just not that interested.

I honestly thought that my observation would find a general echo, that most of
us see lots of people doing that. But if that's in doubt, then don't worry about
it. I'm certainly not going to insist I'm right about that.
> > > Hitting C-w is simple, hitting <del> is obvious even to 
> > > newbies, and doesn't make any noise.
> > If the bell is the problem, we could perhaps silence it for 
> > this use.
> What, more state?  No thanks!  Either silence it or not.  I'd say
> silence it altogether.

Hey, maybe we can agree about something. I turned it off long ago.

But no, I'm not going to stand up and propose that we turn off the bell. You can
do that.

And then we'll get the same sort of round-and-round about that fascinating
topic. Zippy in front of the dryer. Round and round.

> > > > > One reason people might have come to Emacs is to escape 
> > > > > the (to them) deity-awful key sequences they've been forced
> > > > > to use up to now.
> > > > That's an amazing statement, Alan. I've never heard anyone 
> > > > claim that people come to Emacs because the key sequences
> > > > they use elsewhere are too difficult.
> > > Not "too difficult" but "deity-awful".  You do understand that
> > > distinction, I hope?
> > No. What did you mean exactly?
> One which is "too difficult" is one which is difficult to use.
> Ctrl-Alt-Delete would be difficult for a one-handed person.  Holding
> down <PageUp> to go to BOB would be ghod-awful, as would C-x M-q C-w.
> For kill-word, I'd call C-S-<right> <delete> ghod-awful, 
> certainly when compared with M-d.

OK. I guess.

> > What is the salient characteristic of the keys outside 
> > Emacs that you think people complain about? "God-awful"
> > might mean something concrete to you here, but it doesn't
> > to me. Just which keys do you think they
> > complain about? What God-awful keys outside Emacs make them come
> > running inside?
> C-f (for find) which drops a dialogue box over half of your text, for
> example.

It's the box that's god-awful, not C-f, no? C-f for search is no more god-awful
than C-s. It's how the search dialog continues after the C-f/C-s that makes the

> C-S-<right> <delete> for kill word.

Can't disagree with you there. Never even knew such a sequence existed.

And I guess I see what you're saying now.

But I'm not convinced that users outside Emacs come to Emacs because of such
god-awful keys (which I agree are god-awful). Most users outside of Emacs (and
vi etc.) don't even use keys for things like deleting words. They just select
with the mouse and hit delete. Or they scroll all the way to BOB.

I think. No, no proof - someone else can look it up.

> > Did you happen to learn Emacs after using computers all day long for
> > years, selecting and typing text to replace the selection? 
> > That's the case for folks nowadays. This is not 1985 or even 1995.
> I've been using computers all day long for ~30 years; Emacs for ~12
> years.  I've been assaulted by "typing replaces selection" for perhaps
> the last 10 years or so.

Right. So you didn't first get in the habit of select-and-type-to-replace and
then start to learn Emacs. Same here. But that is the case for most computer
users (who come to Emacs) nowadays. That was my point.

> > IIRC, you don't use a mouse (much, if at all), correct? And 
> > I'd guess you didn't use a mouse before you came to Emacs
> > either. That is so different from 99.999999% of the world
> > nowadays that it makes you miss the point, I fear, about
> > _their_ learning Emacs.
> Not at all - Emacs can wean them off their dependence on the mouse.

Yes, but the point is that they come to Emacs with a set of habits that are
different from the habits you had when you learned Emacs. Don't underestimate
that difference. But yes, of course they can be helped to learn better ways.

> > It's not about you, Alan. And it's not about me. I turned 
> > on d-s-mode decades ago. I don't want the default change
> > for myself. I want it for newbies, in particular.
> It is about you, Drew.  I don't think you're looking outside
> your own work habits enough to see that one size doesn't fit
> all.

No Alan. It is not about me. I'm looking outside my work habits at the habits of
the teeming masses of gray. It's not because I use d-s-mode that I think it's a
great idea for Emacs. I use all kinds of things in Emacs that I wouldn't vote
for as the default behavior, believe me.

It's about THEM and THEIR HABITS. What they're used to.

But as I said, I also wouldn't have voted for it if I didn't think d-s-mode is
useful for more than just newbies. It's not about catering to their way of doing
things just for the sake of it.

I wouldn't vote for CUA-mode as a default, for example. I believe it is inferior
to the regular Emacs copy, cut, paste, etc. bindings.

I don't believe that d-s-mode is inferior - on the contrary - and that's why I
voted for it. But I do hear you loud and clear about the pain for some people.
Based on that, I'd say it should not become the default.

> d-s-m causes distress; to David, to Miles, to me, to my
> sister, and undoubtedly to countless others out there.

I heard you.

Don't use it. And don't make it the default in that case. I mean it. And please
don't tell your sister that Drew "wants to heap massive inconvenience on

> > I also think that some other oldbies will find it useful if 
> > they give it a chance. I'm struck by the number of oldbies,
> > including RMS, who've made it clear in this very thread
> > that they are not really familiar with d-s-mode. To any who
> > are open, I say, "Try it; you might like it."
> There's not too many familiar with BDSM either (and I'm not talking
> about the licence here ;-).  Is that a good reason to try it?

I did not say that they should try it _because_ they are not familiar with it.
That's your logic, not mine.

And unlike the case of d-s-mode, I cannot say whether BDSM is a good thing or
that people should try it. You can make that proposal. I'll abstain from voting.

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