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Re: delete-selection-mode

From: Chad Brown
Subject: Re: delete-selection-mode
Date: Fri, 19 Mar 2010 09:42:56 -0700

On Mar 19, 2010, at 8:56 AM, Richard Stallman wrote:

>> It would be useful to see precisely what the beginners said who
>> complained about the current defaults.  What were their use cases?
>    I think they simple want the behaviour that they are used to from
>    editing taks in other application.
> I am sure that is true, but the question is a specific one.
> Precisely which use cases are these people concerned about?

Back when I was in a position to notice on a day-to-day basis (helping newly 
arrived college students used to `home computers' adapt to MIT's campus-wide 
unix workstation infrastructure), the use case seemed to be:

* start an editor (emacs was the default editor, so it would be started in a 
great number of different contexts)
* somehow generate text
* sweep out an area with the mouse
* type replacement text

I saw much confusion when people noticed that the replacement text was added 
rather than replacing, and also frequent situations where the user had clearly 
simply assumed that the text was being replaced and didn't notice that it 
wasn't (fortunately, they'd often catch these cases on a spell-check step, 
since the usual selection mechanism resulted in the added text being glommed 
directly on to the end of the intended-replaced text).

I'm my observations, users who created/extended the selection using the 
keyboard were quite rare, and I would be comfortable saying that they were all 
familiar enough with emacs to be aware of the situation (and either work around 
or customize around it).  This experience is not particularly recent, but 
everything I have seen with new users since then suggests that this sort of 
interaction is even more strongly ingrained in users (since so many of them 
generate their early user experiences inside web browsers, including text edit 

I hope this helps,

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