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Re: Poll about proposed change in DEL (aka Backspace) and Delete

From: Le Wang
Subject: Re: Poll about proposed change in DEL (aka Backspace) and Delete
Date: Sat, 1 Oct 2011 20:54:40 +0800

On Fri, Sep 30, 2011 at 11:17 PM, Joel James Adamson
<address@hidden> wrote:
> I feel that maintaining the editor-unique nature of the Emacs delete
> key, rather than adopting the behavior of word processors is crucial to
> maintaining the uniqueness of Emacs.  It's one of the reasons I use
> Emacs: the Emacs way makes sense in a way that I strongly prefer.  I
> never liked the behavior of deleting whole selected regions and I prefer
> the Emacs way.

I don't want to turn this into a huge debate, so this will be my last
reply to this that cc's the list.

It's not editor-unique vs word-processor.  It's editor-unique vs (web
browser + email editor + word processor + EVERYTHING).

I feel it's far more reasonable to change Emacs to be less surprising
to new users than it is to keep it same-old same-old for the users who
are already used to it.  After all, if the traditional Emacs behavior
is preferable to you, you can easily restore it.  It's harder for a
brand new user to make Emacs less shocking.

To use myself as an example, I started using Emacs because I REALLY
didn't like vi for some school projects.  I was fortunate that I gave
Emacs enough of a chance to find CUA-mode, delete-selection-mode, and
a few other bits at a time when they weren't a part of the Emacs
distribution.  These conveniences made Emacs tolerable to me, and gave
me a glimpse of the Emacs' power.  Slowly, I grew away from those
packages and now, I pretty much do everything the "Emacs way".

Now, specifically talking about the DEL change proposed, if I want to
copy something into the clipboard and replace a new selection with it,
currently I would

1. select stuff
2. M-w
3. select stuff to delete
4. C-w
5. C-y
6. M-y

This requires the new user to be aware of C-y and M-y and how to use
each to do a very basic task.  While pressing DEL to delete a selected
region is much more intuitive.

I'm so happy that Emacs is already evolving to be more newbie
friendly.  Transient-mark is on by default.  Shift-select is on by
default.  All these little things help.

The "Emacs way" to do very basic tasks should not shock newbies so
much that they give up in disgust before they have a chance to
experience the real crown jewel of Emacs, Emacs-lisp.


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