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Re: What a modern collaboration toolkit looks like

From: Alan Mackenzie
Subject: Re: What a modern collaboration toolkit looks like
Date: Tue, 1 Jan 2008 17:11:21 +0000
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.9i

Hi, Eric!

On Mon, Dec 31, 2007 at 08:07:12AM -0500, Eric S. Raymond wrote:
> Eli Zaretskii <address@hidden>:

> The old-timers on this list should be asking themselves why, when Emacs
> is so undeniably important, it can't attract as many developers as a
> mere fantasy game.

A few suggestions:
o - Emacs is implemented in a wierd special purpose language.

o - Emacs is already so good that it's difficult to see room for new

o - Much core Emacs code has, despite RMS's good sense and emphasis on
  simplicity, become tortuous and difficult to get into.

o - Emacs is a victim of its own success - as its new features make it
  steadily easier to use, it becomes steadily more intricate and thus
  harder to learn.  A non-user of Emacs cannot become an Emacs hacker.

[ .... ]

> The Emacs project, though, is still operating at a scale and tempo I
> think of as being typical of the late 1980s and early 1990s.  I think
> we are limited by poor tools, and by habits of thought derived from
> those poor tools.

Hmmm.  There's something ironic about an Emacs developer blaming poor
tools.  ;-)

I'd think it's worth emphasising that CVS is _NOT_ a poor tool; it's an
exceptionally flexible, solid and reliable one, free from feature bloat,
and I'm grateful indeed to the hackers who've maintained it over the

What you mean, Eric, is that CVS is a hammer, and we could now work
better by using screws rather than nails.  What's the best screwdriver?

I've never been able to get excited by VCSs; apart from CVS, I've only
had experience with proprietary VCSs, and they have, with one exception,
been ghastly.

> I'd like to help that change.

I'm enthusiastic about this.  Go for it, Eric!  But I suggest the
following two constraints for the new tools, which might not apply to
Battle for Wesnoth:

o - They must support "batch mode" working, for RMS and others who
  concentrate fiercely on a single activity at a time.

o - They must, like Emacs, be fully usable on a text console without a
  mouse as well as in X.  There are at least 3 hackers here who prefer
  such a setup.

Alan Mackenzie (Nuremberg, Germany).

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