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Re: What about "The Modernization of Emacs"?

From: Lennart Borgman (gmail)
Subject: Re: What about "The Modernization of Emacs"?
Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2007 23:44:52 +0100
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv: Gecko/20071031 Thunderbird/ Mnenhy/

Sean Ochoa wrote:
What do the maintainers have to say about this article, "The Modernization of Emacs" (http://xahlee.org/emacs/modernization.html)? I find myself in the very same boat as he's describing. Its a good thing that I have geeky friends who already use emacs to show me the ropes.

 - Sean Ochoa

Here are some comments:

;; Simple UI Changes
;; * Have cua-mode on by default.

Maybe a simple way to turn on platform like features instead? There could be "platforms" like:

- Emacs default
- GNU/Linux
- w32

;; * Have Syntax Highlighting on by default.

It is from Emacs 22.

;; * Change the undo behavior so that there is a Undo and
;;   Redo.

I hardly notice (since I use Viper), but it sounds useful. Of course you can do redo with the undo command, but it is hard for a beginner. There is a undo-only command, why not also have a redo-only command?

;; * Get rid of the “*scratch*” buffer.

This has been discussed on the devel list. Please look at the discussion there.

;; * Make longlines-mode the default editor behavior for any
;;   file. (So that, the up arrow and down arrow keys moves
;;   the cursor by a visual line, not by line-return
;;   character.

I think this deserves some thought.

By default Emacs wraps long lines. This is not the same as longlines-mode. I think it would be useful to be able to use down/up arrows to move to the next/previous visual line. I believe this might be what beginners expect. (Maybe there is already such an option in Emacs?)

;; Documentation Changes (for the User Documentation of
;; Emacs (not Emacs Lisp Doc))
;; * Change the terminology of “Meta key” to “Alt key”

I would say no. They are not the same. I do not use the Alt key for Emacs META key.

I would say make the explanation of this more visible instead. It is already mentioned in for example

  M-: (info "(emacs) Windows Keyboard")

but it could perhaps be in a section of its own since it is such an important detail.

;;   replace the abbreviations C-«key» and M-«key» by
;;   Ctrl+«key» and Alt+«key».

Why? Is that really so difficult for a beginner?

;; * Change the terminology of “kill” to “cut”, and “yank”
;;   to “paste”.

I would say yes (though many others surely disagree), but there are some difficulties with doing it. It is easy to change the names in the menus, but what should then be done with the command names (think mnemonics)? And backward compatibility? (Maybe this can be solved just by adding wrapper functions with new names like cut, copy, paste?)

;; * Change the terminology of keybinding to “keyboard
;;   shortcut”. Use the term keybinding or binding only in a
;;   technical context, such as in elisp documentation.

If you search through the Info manual (use C-s) you will find "keyboard shortcuts". That is useful. Rewriting the whole manual with a new terminology takes time.

;; * Reduce the use of the word “buffer”. Call it “opened
;;   file”, “unsaved document”, “tab”, “window”, as
;;   appropriate.

None of those names are really appropriate.

;; * Switch the terminology of Window and Frame so it is
;;   more standard. That is, emacs's notion of “Window”
;;   should be called Panes or Frames. While emacs's notion
;;   of “Frame” should be termed Window.

Mm. Perhaps many would wish that the terminology was different, but it is a lot of work to change it. I believe most developers will not find it worth that. There are many, many other things that can be done to evolve Emacs. (They are often quite a bit harder, but much more useful. Like bringing JDEE to a state comparable to Eclipse again (which would actually make it more useful than Eclipse perhaps). Or working on getting Semantics into Emacs with all the possibilities that would mean. Or ... - a lot of other things.)

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