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Re: Emacs: Problems of the Scratch Buffer


From: Chiron
Subject: Re: Emacs: Problems of the Scratch Buffer
Date: Sat, 21 Apr 2012 03:53:33 GMT
User-agent: Pan/0.133 (House of Butterflies)

On Fri, 20 Apr 2012 13:48:34 +0200, Richard Riley wrote:

> Chiron <address@hidden> writes:
> 
>> If Emacs works for you, use it.  If not, don't, or fix what you feel is
>> wrong with it.  It's nothing but the most highly customizable editor on
>> the planet.
> 
> 
> And there is the core problem with so many Emacs types. Dont like it
> dont use it. God forbid it could *easily* be made more accessible to new
> adopters : the hard core are more than capable of re-enabling the
> somewhat out of date and history rooted "defaults" such as an elisp
> *scratch* as the first buffer you see or the hideous cut & paste
> defaults which leave those coming from the desktops which, like it or
> lump it, account for 97% of computers totally lost and bemused.
> 
> I love emacs, but this "dont like dont use it" attitude is ridiculous.
> its a great piece of SW hekp to make it appeal : more users == more
> maintainers == more ideas == better product. "I'm alright Jack" attitude
> wont do anything to improve its usage. And usage IS important to ensure
> its future. Just look at how behind it is with regards to mix mode
> programming and Java in particular : and no, no one wants to know how
> "mixed mode programming sucks" - its exists and is common.

OK, so here's the situation, as I understand it:

1.  The maintainers of emacs are happy with the way it is right now.

2.  The maintainers probably *use* emacs for their work - so it's one of 
the tools in their toolbox.

3. You want these maintainers to modify their tool in ways they don't 
like, in order to make their tool more appealing to more people.

4.  Theoretically, if they do this, then there will be more people to 
join in and make it a "better" tool - which doesn't mean a tool more in 
keeping with what the maintainers want, but with what other people want.

5.  This, in some way, is supposed to be a good thing.

I think I can confidently say that the maintainers are not going to be 
badgered into modifying this tool just to please the crowds.  I think 
that the idea of getting lots of maintainers isn't a priority for them.

The current maintainers have absolutely no incentive to try to make emacs 
appealing to the masses.  If they did that, sure, they'd probably get 
plenty of new maintainers, but these new guys would change their tool in 
ways they don't want.  They're OK with the way it is right now.  What's 
in it for them to change it?

A text editor isn't a popularity contest.  No one gets points for extra 
users.  It's a tool.  It does what it does.  If you want a tool that does 
that, it's the best one out there.  If you want a tool that does 
something else, it's not such a good choice.  So you either pick another 
tool, or you modify the one you have until it does what you want.

I don't know what you're talking about when you say the *scratch* buffer 
comes up first.  When I fire up emacs, the first buffer is *GNU Emacs*.  
On it are links to the Emacs Tutorial, Emacs Guided Tour, View Emacs 
Manual, and Customize Startup.  As far back as I can recall, emacs has 
always come up with this buffer first.  I'm using emacs 23.3.1, if that 
means anything.

Maybe emacs is a system whose time has come.  It has had a good run - far 
longer than most software.  Maybe it's just too old to fix.  There is 
such a thing as natural selection, and it works for programs as much as 
for living beings.  Dinosaurs tend to die out, eventually.  Maybe it's 
time...

Anyway, emacs is only one among dozens of text editors and word 
processors, ranging from pico and nano to kate to vi(m), gedit, notepad, 
Word, libreoffice, and whatever.   No one is forced to use emacs, and if 
it doesn't suit a person's needs, they shouldn't use it.  This is not a 
"problem."  This is like anything else.  If it works for you, fine.  If 
not, use something else.  Or, if you're ambitious, change it yourself, 
since it's open source.  Or *hire* someone to modify it for you, if you 
can't do it yourself.

Or hey, maybe offer to pay the maintainers to make the changes you think 
should be made.  But why complain about people who are doing this for 
free, who like it the way it is?

Or start a fork of emacs that will make the changes you feel are needed 
or desired.  That's altogether possible, and if there are enough people 
who care enough, you'll likely find some programmers who will contribute 
their time on the project.

Personally, I figure your best bet would be to start a fork.  Get a whole 
new set of maintainers, perhaps people more progressive than the 
maintainers for emacs itself.  Get some new blood in there, guys who will 
be trying to add timely new features and change whatever things could use 
updating.

I can't speak for the emacs maintainers, since I'm not one of them.  
However, I can almost guarantee you that no amount of complaining, 
badgering, whining, or criticism is going to motivate any of them to make 
the changes you feel are appropriate.

Maybe the bottom line is that free software is about freedom - and that 
can mean the freedom to cling to the past, if that's what the maintainers 
are really doing.

-- 
If this is timesharing, give me my share right now.


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