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RE: Key bindings proposal

From: Stephen J. Turnbull
Subject: RE: Key bindings proposal
Date: Tue, 03 Aug 2010 11:09:32 +0900

Drew Adams writes:

 > However, I have a feeling (but again, I'm ignorant and unpracticed
 > here) that using menus via accelerators on a regular basis is not
 > the way to go.
 > Menus are about organizing commands.  They are helpful for discovery (and
 > rediscovery of infrequently used commands).  Regularly using menus (e.g. via
 > accelerators) to access frequently used commands sounds like a bad habit - to
 > me.  But again, I do not really know what I'm talking about here. ;-)

To you, Emacs is a professional tool, like a mechanic's wrench or an
eye surgeon's laser.  The class of users Uday wants Emacs to serve
better is quite different.  They're not interested in a tool that
allows them to do work well and efficiently (in a science of mechanics
sense).  They're interested in a tool that allows them to work without
*ever* thinking about the tool.  Ie, they are *not* the equivalent of
the surgeon who after 25 years of practice almost never thinks about
her fingers or the laser, just about the eye and where to cut and
where to weld.  They're the equivalent of the typical driver who after
10 hours of practice and passing the written test never thinks about
the car again.

There's nothing wrong with serving those users (what they're doing
makes economic sense, conserving their most valuable resource, and
unlike letting them drive, the odds are that there will be very few
fatalities due to Emacs use while intoxicated), but I think it would
be a terrible waste of Emacs developer time.  They won't thank us.
Not with words, and not with new Emacs features and bug fixes --
precisely because they're so busy *not* thinking about the tool.  And
they have no need for Emacs to serve them; any old thing will do for
them, and there are plenty of old things out there.

It's true that some of those users, given an Emacs comfortable for
them *now*, will *eventually* trip over Emacs itself and catch the
spirit.  But many of that type of user will anyway.  I had a 10-year
exclusive user of vi, and a vim hacker, contact me the other day
because there are some things that can't practically be done *in* vim,
and he wants his *editor*, not a separate script, to do them.  So he
wants to try Emacs.  It's not like the people with the skills we need
and the hacker spirit that will make them produce more tools for us
don't know where to find us.

If Uday et amis *want* to serve those users, that's a different story
-- more power to them.  I'm sure they'll come up with interesting
problems, and other Emacs hackers will want to help solve them.  But
they're going to have to do the scutwork and in the process discover
the interesting problems.  It's definitely possible to get started on
the scutwork -- Uday has admitted several times that everything he
wants can be done with current Emacs features, but it's inconvenient.
They shouldn't let that inconvenience stop them. ;-)

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