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Re: theming (was: Sorting of directories in dired)

From: David Reitter
Subject: Re: theming (was: Sorting of directories in dired)
Date: Thu, 7 Jul 2005 13:22:05 +0100

On 7 Jul 2005, at 11:53, John S. Yates, Jr. wrote:

Historically, the Emacs community has provided default behavior
that catered to its entrenched userbase.  The answer to nearly
any suggestion that such behavior might be awkward / unfamiliar /
jarring to new users, especially those on platforms held in low
regard by the entrenched userbase, is that Emacs is customizable.
Essentially a "Let them eat cake" attitude.

One possibility to address this is to develop 'distributions'. Just like, say, SUSE Linux offers a GNU/Linux OS with a whole lot of customization and integration, you can distribute Emacs with such customizations. That's what I am doing with Aquamacs Emacs, where we can radically change the behavior in order to make it consistent with GUI based operating systems.

My notion of a theme is not a named collection of configuration
settings.  Rather it is an expression of high-level intent:
- as much as possible behave like Window / MacOS / *nix
- underline clickable links
- give me single frame behavior vs something like Drew's OneOnOne

Well, these would be examples of what I would understand as 'themes'.

I have implemented the single frame behavior (it takes more than OneonOne to do that), for example. And if I understand correctly what themes are supposed to do, I cannot but agree with you that the currently planned collections of customization settings won't do the job for efforts to change the user interface (point 2 below). Themes make some headway though (point 1):

1. Aquamacs changes a lot of default customization settings, and it also ensures that the user's actual customizations are noted as such and saved - by setting the 'standard-value property whenever a customization variable is set. That way we ensure that the user can still customize whatever - it's just the defaults that are changed. A lot of hooks are used, but they could be handled as customization variables. Making this process a bit easier, making it easier for the user to undo some of these new 'defaults' by defining groups of customizations in themes would certainly be desirable.

2. However, over the last two or three months or so, Aquamacs has come to do much more than that. It blatantly redefines and advises functions, something which can only be undone by means of extra customization variables that are checked by the new functions. In addition to that, we patch the c core and one or two of the .el files in order to either implement needed additional functionality or (on the Carbon port side) to modify functionality. In addition to that, several support files in the original package are modified, others added (converted manuals). [I make an effort to contribute changes, in particular bugfixes, where I see fit - it's not a competing fork.]

We cannot realize your points with collections of customization settings. The changes are much more profound.
Therefore, there is another consideration that becomes more important:
Makers of a distribution like Aquamacs would really need a stable, relatively bug-free release. We're shooting at a moving target otherwise.

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