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Re: Emacs learning curve

From: Tom
Subject: Re: Emacs learning curve
Date: Tue, 13 Jul 2010 08:32:06 +0000 (UTC)
User-agent: Loom/3.14 (http://gmane.org/)

Stephen J. Turnbull <stephen <at> xemacs.org> writes:
> You're ignoring the fact that some kinds of new users are far more
> likely to convert to Emacs hackers.  Specifically, the kind of people
> who don't pay too much attention to "ease of use" anyway, but rather
> head straight for the workbench and grab a power grinder to smooth out
> the nicks and burrs in their own user experience.

Yes, and there are other kind of hackers how take a look at
Emacs and say why should I bother with it if it's so alien? I'll
create some Eclipse extension instead, since the Eclipse UI is
much friendlier.

I've read more than once in various places that Eclipse plugin
development is quite complicated. On the other hand I have
experience with extending Emacs and I know rapid prototyping in
Emacs Lisp is quite a pleasant experience (once you've learned
Emacs Lisp, that is).

Creating an entrance barrier by keeping the default Emacs
UI (keys, etc.) different than than ones people are used to in
popular systems turns away lots of potential developers who could
be very useful for Emacs once they get to know it better and get
the hang of it.

So yes, you are right. The current UI won't keep the very
determined hackers away, but in my experience the question most 
new users (and
most new hackers) ask when encountering Emacs is: "Why should I
bother with it if it's so alien?"

Since we don't have a killer feature which would attract new
users like perfect code assist (context aware completion, instant
display of documentation of elements, live indication of syntax
errors, etc.) out of the box with near-zero configuration, we
have to at least lower the barrier of entry, so users don't
encounter unfamiliar things right at the first steps (copy/paste
on different keys, etc.) which in my experience drives most of
them away.

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