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Re: emacs-w3m question

From: Xah
Subject: Re: emacs-w3m question
Date: Fri, 7 Nov 2008 09:43:23 -0800 (PST)
User-agent: G2/1.0

Alan Mackenzie wrote:

> > > I think, by his description, he does.  "Touch type" meaning "not
> > > having to look at the keyboard to type".
> > using 6 fingers instead 10 is not considered touch typing.
> "Is not considered" :-).  I don't think we should be so concerned to
> divide people (or even things) into categories.  Pluto is just the same
> lump of rock and ice it always was, whether we call it a planet or not.

Dear Alan moron, nor is this about skin color. If you are a moron,
dressing well doesn't change the fact,

> I don't know any Mac Emacs users, so I couldn't comment on its
> popularity.

the question is not about whether you know or don't know mac emacs
users. It's about you lacking requisite knowledge yet insist on your
opinion about the subject.

> But we've had this discussion several times.  Modern isn't necessarily
> better.  Modern is easier for newbies familiar with other programs to
> learn, but there's no evidence that, once learnt, it's any better than
> the classic Emacs UI.  Do you address this matter anywhere in your online
> essays?  My own experience is that Emacs's classic UI is much better.
> One reason to believe Emacs UI should be superior is that it was
> developed by the people who use it, for their own use.

yes it's addressed in my essay, under the FAQ section. In fact, this
has been addressed so many times, just about every few months. It's
quite amazing that some thoughts just never registers in tech geeker'

The Modernization of Emacs

The FAQ section starting near the middle of page. Here's a excerpt of
the section.

Q: Emacs's ways are technically superior. It should not change.

Emac's user interface, when compared to modern software application's
user interface, is complex and unusual, however, there's no basis
whatsoever of it being actually a superior design with regards to any
sensible metrics. (in fact, much of emacs's user interface are due to
historical reasons. That is, how computers are in 1980s.)

For example, let's consider emacs's system of keyboard shortcuts. For
a keyboard shortcut system, we might judge its quality based on
several aspects. Here are some examples of consideration:

    * Is it easy to learn? (is it familiar to most people? Is it easy
to remember?)
    * Is it ergonomic? (Are most frequently used commands's keyboard
shortcuts easy to type? Are more frequently used commands have easier
to type shortcuts than less frequently used commands?)
    * Are most frequently used commands all have a keyboard shortcut?
    * Is the shortcut system somehow consistent and extensible?

Emacs's keyboard shortcuts system, is good only with respect to the
last item. Emacs keyboard shortcuts are perhaps one of the most
difficult to learn among software, and is also one of the most
difficult to remember. The worst aspect of emacs's keyboard shortcuts,
is that it is ergonomically painful. (Many emacs-using programer
celebrities have injured their hands with emacs. (e.g. Richard
Stallman↗, Jamie Zawinski↗, Ben Wing↗), and emacs's Ctrl and Meta
combinations are most cited as the major turn-off to potential users
among programers)

Computer keyboard is a hardware interface, and the mapping of commands
to the key press combinations can be considered from a Operation
Research (ergonomic) point of view. The keyboard hardware itself can
be designed with consideration of ergonomics↗ (that's why we have
split and curved keyboards), but consideration of what functions to
map to what key presses is also non-trivial if the software has large
number of functions, or if the software is mission critical, or the
software is used for repetitive, long durations of human-machine
interaction (such as data-entry, programing, writing). Think of it
this way: consider a airplane cockpit, filled with knobs, dials,
buttons, and switches. Now, if your job is to map the airplane control
functions to these switches, what are the issues to consider?

If we take careful consideration on creating a keyboard shortcut
system for emacs, it is not difficult to create a system that is
superior in some pure technical sense than the emacs's shortcut

For some detail, see: Why Emacs's Keyboard Shortcuts Are Painful.

Aside from keyboard shortcuts system, other user interface aspects of
emacs are also questionable. For example, one major aspect of emacs
operation is that it uses a single window for multiple purposes and
files. Emacs is this way not because of a design decision, but rather
due to historical reasons. Computer resources in the 1980s are very
limited. When emacs is around, graphical system of showing “windows”
is not practically available, and the emacs's method of using the
screen (the monochrome text-only monitor) for presenting multiple
tasks (“buffers”) is actually a very advanced user interface design
not available in software of that era. When graphical systems becomes
practical in the 1990s, drawing a window still takes a lot memory, and
opening multiple windows is slow and impractical.

Modern software interface (say, post 2000) usually uses one window per
file (or task), and or show tabs if multiple tasks are represented in
a single window. However, emacs's buffer system doesn't provide the
tabs visual clue. Compared to the modern standard of tabbed window,
emacs's buffer interface is inferior because it is less intuitive.
Arguably, emacs's operation methods may be more efficient for expert
users. 20 years ago, efficiency for expert users may out weight the
ease of use for majority of average users. But in today computing era,
computers are standard tools in every household, efficiency and ease
of use for general users is as important for professional users. Even
for professional users, it is openly questionable that emacs's ways of
operation induced by its default user interface allows more efficient
operation than a user interface based on modern software conventions.
(this can be certified by having 2 team of programmers roughly equally
experienced or skilled in using emacs. One team use Emacs with default
UI setup, the other use a emacs with modernized interface (such as
Mac's Aquamacs), then compare their efficiency in finishing a set of
coding tasks.)

Note: we are not disputing the general power, flexibility, and
qualities of emacs. Emacs, with a powerful embedded language lisp, and
consequently embodies many software applications other than text
editing (email, ftp, dired, calc, ...etc), has induced certain system
of user interface that is all consistent and unique in comparison to
modern software applications. We do not advocate that this is bad.
Specifically, we only propose a very few trivial items for interface
or documentation changes as listed in this article. Most are simply
turning on some features by feault and or changing some terminologies
in the documentation. They have no bearings on how emacs operate in


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