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Re: The minibuffer vs. Dialog Boxes (Re: Making XEmacs be more up-to-dat

From: Terje Bless
Subject: Re: The minibuffer vs. Dialog Boxes (Re: Making XEmacs be more up-to-date)
Date: Sun, 21 Apr 2002 17:29:27 +0200

Eli Zaretskii <address@hidden> wrote:

>On Sun, 21 Apr 2002, Terje Bless wrote:
>>But a lot of the time I'm hindered by the fact that Emacs insists on me
>>adapting to it, instead of it adapting to me. It "DWIMs" fairly well in
>>some situations, but a lot less well in others. And writing lisp code
>>is considered an acceptable way to interact with Emacs for normal users!
>A list of specific problems you have, in those situations where Emacs
>doesn't DWIM, would be nice.  It's hard to fix problems that are

Understood, but mostly I'm not sufficiently familiar with either of the
Emacsen to be of much help. I'd waste too much time suggesting feature
this-and-that which is already there and wasting developer's time.


>>But the real point of all this isn't any specific feature or
>>implementation detail. The main point I'd like to make is that, again
>>in my opinion, the single most important factor in making Emacs more
>>accessible to more people is to start giving more weight to these
>>issues (and, yes, as a consequence less weigth to other issues; it's a
>>tradeoff when resources are limited).
>I think this is already done.  That's why specific details are
>important: the tendency to make Emacs more usable is already there, but
>I have no doubt that more work is needed to actually make that happen.

If it's already done then I'm preaching to the choir. I'm piping up here
because my impression is that there is a severe lack of focus on this area
and that it somehow "should" be better if that focus was really there.

But I may very well be wrong!

>>The perfect feature needs no documentation because it's intuitively
>>obvious how it works.
>This is only true for very simple features.  Powerful and flexible
>features are normally complicated enough to require some documentation,
>without which they are less useful than they could have been.

I disagree. This is IMO true of any feature, it just isn't possible to
achieve in practice for more then a very small fraction of features. My
complaint here is that the Emacsen do not go far /enough/ in the direction
of perfection and settle too easily.

>>But there is also a possibility that Emacs just isn't the tool for me.
>>Perhaps it's too advanced a tool for my simple use and I should stay
>>with less powerfull, but also more easy to understand tools. That's a
>>valid point of view. I'd like to see Emacs cater to me also
>That's what the menus and the tooltips are supposed to accomplish, I

Yes, and they are what enable me to use XEmacs at all! The price of entry
would otherwise be too high.

>>and I firmly believe it can do that without compromising away the power
>>it has that more advanced users need.
>I don't believe this is possible.  Simplicity and power do contradict to
>some degree.  I agree with the general tendency to not trade power for
>simplicity, but in practice, beyond a certain level, power comes at the
>expense of simplicity.  That's why other editors praised for their
>simplicity are much less powerful than Emacs.

Ok, then we disagree here. Perhaps I'm just hopelessly optimistic, but I
really do think it's possible to make Emacs easier to use without
compromizing it's power, at least not unduly.

Every morning in Africa,  a gazelle wakes up.  It knows it must run faster
than the fastest lion or it will be killed.  Every morning a lion wakes up.
It knows  it must outrun the  slowest gazelle or  it will starve  to death.
It doesn't matter whether you are  a lion or a gazelle: when the sun comes
up, you'd better be running...

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