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Re: font-lock-maximum-decoration should be 2 by default?

From: Stephen J. Turnbull
Subject: Re: font-lock-maximum-decoration should be 2 by default?
Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2012 20:10:21 +0900

Vitalie Spinu writes:

 > It's easy to get sick of too much customization. It's another well know
 > paradox of human pshychology -- we want more choose but too much choice
 > is bad for you

And the experiments you cite were conducted on a sample of Emacs
users?  Surely not!  The point is that Emacs users *are* different
(this is nearly a tautology), and those in the best position to judge
*how* different are the maintainers.

 > There are so many small inconveniences/bugs which I know I can solve
 > probably in 15-30 minutes by studding the code/docs/customization, but I
 > continue to leave with those in emacs, sometimes for months and
 > years. Familiar?

Yes, with any program by Microsoft and most of the software on my
iPhone.  Not in the context of Emacs.  It took about two hours to
establish the habit of dealing with minor customizations immediately
and quite a bit longer (a couple of months) to establish the habit of
recording long activities I might want to repeat verbatim and writing
quick scripts for those that are basically repetitive but need
variation on repetition.  These small investments in Emacs have been
repaid many times.[1]  But they are impossible with most programs.

I know I'm at one extreme of the spectrum; at least some Emacs users
use it because it was the only decent editor available on their host,
or because the best editor for their application was an Emacs mode,
and everything else they just don't want to deal with but use Emacs
"as is" just because it's there.  Nevertheless, that extreme *is*
achieved (I'm one example, and I'm not the only one), and I suspect a
large share of Emacs users tend to this end of the spectrum.

 >   >> 3) Developers which would like to capture 30% of salad lovers will try
 >   >> to find workarounds. That is, add redundant, mode-specific
 >   >> font-lock customization, or mess with
 >   >> font-lock-maximum-decoration.
 >   > This is true, but I'm not sure if it's a problem.
 > It's a problem in light of yours (2). Everyone wants a consistent
 > interface.

But who decides what "consistent" means?  The highlighting appropriate
for C is surely different from that for Lisp or Perl or Haskell.  Some
will be common, I suppose, such as for literal strings.  But what
about Perl "barewords"?  What does consistency mean for something that
doesn't exist in most languages?  Should shell commands be highlighted
differently depending on whether they're builtins, system commands, or
shell functions and aliases?

That kind of thing has to be decided by the mode developers, although
the Emacs maintainers often will offer suggestions, and for modes in
core Emacs will add/adjust to their own taste.  And in the end the
dirge "Why do the defaults always suck?" applies anyway.

[1]  And then I needed to break them when I started reviewing others'
requirement suggestions and code contributions -- reviewers need to
make some decisions about defaults, and adjusting to personal taste
because your initial reaction is "this SUCKS!!" is inappropriate --
but that's a different story.

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