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d-s-m default: Nil + explanation! (was: d-s-m default)

From: Memnon Anon
Subject: d-s-m default: Nil + explanation! (was: d-s-m default)
Date: Thu, 25 Mar 2010 00:24:14 +0000 (UTC)


I wanted to give a small explanation, why I think Nil is the better

I am fairly new to emacs (started mid 2008) and I was well aware that
this would not be an easy task; but orgmode sounded so great.
Since then, I find myself more and more influenced by this single
program: Using emacs had a profound influence on how I perceive my
computer, maybe only equaled by my switch from Dos 6 to Win95, i.e.
"command line" style to fancy new "Everything is a GUI" concept.

I think changing to D-S-M as a default is throwing dust into the eyes of
the new users: Emacs is different. And without a minimal willingness to
read the documentation, one will certainly fail.

In fact, *imho* the fact that so many (new) users are complaining is an
indication for a gap in the documentation. Probably, a new Info Node is
needed, prominently placed and accessible from the splash screen,
listing and explaining:

        a) Why a certain feature acts different to "common" practice in
          other programs, giving some rational why this feature is
          implemented and what is the advantage to a user.
        b) Showing an easy way (customize interface) how to change this
           "emacsy" behaviour to the usage pattern the user is
           accustumed to, in case he is not convinced or wants to start
           working with emacs and puts exploring this facette later.

There is so much information out there on the web (and I spent a great
deal of time to hunt 'em down), but a lot of (most?) resources don't
give an explanation, why this is actually superior, why one would want
to take the effort to retrain oneself.

Example: Scrollbar on the left side.
I turned the scrollbars of at once, so I never really realized the
default is different to accustomed placement. But I would certainly have
thought "This is *weird*! Do they have to do everything differently?" 
Is there anywhere in the info pages clearly stated that having the
scrollbar on the left side might be unusual, but actually offers better
ergonomic? [Mhhh, one sentence in a footnote.] But hey, "This is the
emacs way!". Yes, but without a sound reason, no one (today) is going to
retrain most of what he is used to without (at least) some reason.

So, I think it is a good thing if a new user encounters unexpected
behaviour: This makes him aware that there are different ways.
*But*: There should be an (faq?) Info-Node especially destined to 
catch these cases, prominently placed on the splash screen! 
The user will know from the start: If something is odd, most probably,
an answer and possibly a "fix" is where I can easily find it.

When I started to leave orgmode and have a look at the outer "emacs"
world, 23 was already on my machine, with t-m-m on by default. I had
read about "using mark to navigate", but until today, whenever I set a
mark, there was a region, so to me, setting the mark made only sense
when I wanted to set and act on a region. Due to this thread 
(thanks David Kastrup!), I kept wondering: "Why would anyone be
disturbed by t-m-m? Why navigate by mark?" and reread the old thread 
of 2008 and the info pages on mark: There is a *global* mark ring! 
*wow*! That feature would not have been very usefull for my earliest
days, but now, with lots of open buffers, this sounds great!
So, I will test using the mark more for the next days and use 
'C-Spc C-Spc' whenever I will want to operate on the active region.

I really do not think that "being different" is what makes new emacs 
users shy away. If they had a single entry point as described above that
provide them a) the concept/idea of the default and b) an easy
explanation how to change to "common practice", it does not matter,
if 'd-s-m t' is default or not. 

btw: I am suscribed to emacs.devel, emacs.help, Planet Emacs and follow
     the Recent Changes of the emacswiki fairly recently, but I have
     never before this thread heard of d-s-m. Thats why I so strongly 
     stress a prominent place. 

This explanation turned out not so small, after all ...
Thanks for listening ;)


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