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RE: Key bindings proposal

From: Uday S Reddy
Subject: RE: Key bindings proposal
Date: Wed, 4 Aug 2010 10:52:51 +0100

Stephen J. Turnbull writes:

> Seems unlikely to me.  If keyboard accelerators were so important,
> those users would all at least try XEmacs, which has integrated
> keyboard accelerators for a decade or so.  In fact, a *lot* of effort
> was put into making XEmacs look and feel more familiar to the "new new
> user crowd" around the turn of the century: menu accelerators,
> sticky modifiers, tab controls, progress gauges, shifted motion
> extends selection, and on Windows, native dialogs for file selection,
> antialiased fonts, copy/cut/paste integration with the Windows
> clipboard, and a proper printer device.[1]

And, believe me that all of these features were indeed quite useful to
the new users.  I recall now that it was XEmacs that we had set up in
the labs and it was this that I had observed the students using in
ways quite different from me.  I had tried to get a few of the smarter
ones to use the key bindings, and they tried things like C-o and C-s
and gave up.

If you already had keyboard accelerators of menus in 2001, well, thank
you very much for it!  But, it still requires extra RET key strokes to
confirm selections.  That is what I characterized as inefficient in my
previous post, i.e., it is not good enough to serve as a substitute
for key bindings.

Coming back to the students, the vast majority of them switched to
IDEs by the time they reached their final year.  So, while we had done
our bit by introducing them to Emacs, Emacs wasn't able to retain them
due to its limitations.  In this sense, the previous thread was right
in focusing on the IDE support.

> But I've never seen a huge flood of new XEmacs users, and *no* new
> contributors, from that crowd.  The new users are mostly the kind of
> folk who read software manuals for fun (or to pass the time when
> they're sitting where the sun don't shine).  And the new contributors
> all read the manuals.

You are obviously right about that.  However, I don't agree with the
conclusion.  The user base is still needed to motivate contributors to
find it worthwhile to come forward.  Mozilla and Eclipse have armies
of contributors, not because they have great manuals but because they
have large user bases.

>  > And, Emacs has to fit in.
> Why?

Because, otherwise, you raise the barrier to entry so high that only a
small minority of potential users will be able to get through.


PS: Sorry that I haven't gotten around to replying to your other
posts.  But I am thinking...

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