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Re: Aquamacs distro for OS X like behavior

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: Aquamacs distro for OS X like behavior
Date: Mon, 04 Apr 2005 13:40:16 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/22.0.50 (gnu/linux)

David Reitter <address@hidden> writes:

> I would like to announce a new distribution for OS X, which we call
> Aquamacs'. It's a ready-to-run application for OS X that combines
> the Carbon Emacs (a CVS build) with a range of packages and
> customizations from a number of people that all try to make Emacs
> behave more like a normal OS X application.

For starters, you could put up information about what you actually do
and include.  None of the referenced web sites bother to mention any
of the included packages.

> The user-oriented description is at
>       http://www.wordtech-software.com/Aquamacs.html
>   and slightly more technical and opinionated introduction is provided
>   here:
> http://www.davids-world.com/archives/2005/04/aquamacs_an_ema.html
> At this point, we consider the distribution experimental (it's version
> 0.9). Kevin Walzer and I welcome your feedback.
> Depending on whether people use it, we would work towards a
> 1.0. Source is provided in the .app bundle, except for what's in the
> CVS anyways.

You make a big point out of berating the Emacs development team for a
lack of cooperation.  However, changes in user interface take a lot of
persuasion and preparative work as you can easily see if you follow
emacs-devel even superficially.  Emacs has a much longer history than
all currently "modern" (and conflicting) user interface guidelines.
Should one make people abandon Emacs that have been using it for 20
years, so that a newcomer will take an hour instead of half an hour
before giving up on it?

In addition, catering to the idiosyncrasies of a specific platform
like MacOSX is a lot of work if you want to keep Emacs fully
functional and reasonably consistent (where appropriate) across

Given the amount of work that is needed for implementing and
harmonizing a platform specific port of Emacs, I can't help but notice
that your rants about Emacs developers at least to me appear somewhat
disproportionate with the amount of involvement I seem to remember
from you on this list.  So I recommend that you replace them with
actually mentioning what packages you are including in your offering,
and maybe thinking about how you could constructively help Emacs user
interface design while keeping in mind that there are more platforms
than just MacOSX around: this means that one has to make good choices
about where and how to modularize design decisions for a platform.

For the sake of consistency, it might be an idea at some point of time
to have, at least for a limited time period, a single person being
responsible for user interface decisions.  But this person needs to be
at least acquainted with all major user interfaces, and it would need
to have reasonably good contacts with active developers for all of
them.  I have actually played with the thought of offering to do that,
but my style of communication is likely to cause more permanent damage
than good in a sensitive area, and I don't have the time available to
invest myself that would be required for somebody taking the lead in
some area, even if just for making him appear a mostly uncontentious
necessary evil.

Anyway: interface work is hard work, and "let us do everything the
Apple way" is not going to cut it for a number of other platforms, so
in the core Emacs development it is important to keep track of how to
make it possible to do things the Apple, Windows, GNOME, whatever way
reasonably well without losing sight of the Emacs way.

If you want to invest your time in that area cooperatively, it
certainly would be appreciated, and the results would probably be
beneficial to Emacs at large, but you have to realize that moving
Emacs as a whole, while the most effective way in the long run, can be
lots of hard work and frustrating at times.  Of course, it is easier
to rant about how hard it would be instead of trying, but it probably
does not lead anywhere much.

Anyway, for the sake of projects of mine, I am glad that there at last
seems to be a precompiled recent Aqua version of the CVS Emacs around

Without any usefully available information about what packages and
detailed changes from where have gone into it, I still can't recommend
it or give out instructions about how software is probably going to
get installed there.  So I recommend that you fix at least that
deficiency.  All other OSX compilations, outdated as they may be, at
least mention what they include into the package.

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum

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