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RE: [h-e-w] EmacsW32, gnuserv, pathes in .emacs

From: Nat Goodspeed
Subject: RE: [h-e-w] EmacsW32, gnuserv, pathes in .emacs
Date: Tue, 11 Jul 2006 14:37:20 -0400

At 04:52 AM 7/11/2006, Drew Adams wrote:

The key requirement would be to somehow point out clearly which are the
things you really should learn first - distinguishing those from other
interesting things to learn, which are not so essential. Make it clear to
users - label the routes (like ski slopes?).

Hmm, but as you say later, that quickly becomes a matter of taste, doesn't it? I note that the OP mentioned "rectangle editing" in his third bullet. Would that have been one of your top few? (I've been using emacs for about 20 years. I'm embarrassed to admit that it was only about a year ago that I found and downloaded rect-mark.el. I knew from when I first chose to learn emacs that I could *write* something like that -- but I didn't know it already existed. Sigh.)

    > how to get help and how to customize
    > Emacs (that is, how to set preferences)
    > are also important for general use.

    The philosophy is that the default Emacs should
    work well enough for the new user not to be
    bothered by customization for quite some time.

I have never, ever, ever seen anyone use Emacs as is, out of the box. Do you
use only emacs -q? I'd be willing to bet on that one.

One of my best friends, who's been a professional programmer for nearly as long as I, refuses to touch emacs -- despite my frequent suggestions! -- because of its default key bindings. I grant that at this point in emacs history, you CAN'T change its default key bindings without infuriating emacs veterans waking it up on a new box. People with fingers that flexible can throw stones with unbelievable rapidity. But let's face it, many of those key bindings -- the core ones -- date back to dumb terminals on which you might not even have arrow keys, and 'ctrl' was the only key modifier. You had to (e.g.) press esc, shift-greater to jump to the end of a buffer. Before emacs I used an early PC-DOS editor which, for all its many limitations, turned out to be uncommonly well thought out. Surprise! The more I began learning about emacs, the more I realized the authors of my previous favorite editor had obviously set out to write a "baby emacs" suitable for the then-severely-underpowered PC. BUT -- since they knew every user had function keys, cursor keys, page keys, home/end keys, etc. etc., their default key bindings were comfortable: common tasks took ONE finger. I quickly became familiar with their conventions. So the very first thing I tried to do with real emacs was to borrow a .emacs file in which I could customize the key bindings to mimic what my fingers already knew. Some were difficult to figure out. (I'm STILL not sure what's the best way to hook ctrl-i separately from the many, many useful bindings for the Tab key.) And as you say, maybe starting from scratch with a brand-new version of emacs would be considerably easier than what I went through. Okay, that's a very long-winded way of supporting your position that customization is important. It IS the reason I chose emacs, and it's why I happily stay with it.

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