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Re: Emacs terminology (not again!?) [was: Apologia for bzr]

From: Per Starbäck
Subject: Re: Emacs terminology (not again!?) [was: Apologia for bzr]
Date: Thu, 9 Jan 2014 18:27:04 +0100

2014/1/9 Drew Adams <address@hidden>
> Then you are talking about another problem than I am.  Functionality (and
> attitudes) that turn away those people is indeed a problem for Emacs.

Are you sure that turning away "those people" is a problem for Emacs?

Yes. Any attitude of "it should be hard to learn because the good people can learn things that are hard to learn" is just contraproductive.
>> (And _you_ are not using That Other Editor why?  Did you perhaps
>> spend more than 1/2 hour learning This Old Editor?)
> This seems irrelevant to me. What is your point?

Emacs _is_ a better mousetrap.

To really appreciate it, some people, if not most, need to give it more
than 1/2 hour, before jumping to the conclusion that it is not worth
their spending more time with it.  As Richard put it, "Learning Emacs is
never going to be easy."  Or as I said:

  Learning Emacs is learning something new and different - it is not
  your momma's editor.  And it rightfully has its own terminology.

Those are not comparable quotes at all. Richard wants Emacs to be easier to learn for beginners, and I doubt he would write something like your momma quote. Emacs is the text editor for a GNU system. It shouldn't need some other text editor for "your momma" besides it, but have Emacs be the program used for any user who need plain text editing. That Gnome had to create a new text editor to be the default editor for Gnome was a *big* setback for Emacs.

To really appreciate any text editor takes time.

"Those people" who don't feel they need to bother - well, they will
either get it later, by way of others, or they will not.  Tant pis.

That works only if your goal is this elite Emacs. The "right" users will find it eventually anyway. Not all people have that idea about Emacs.

But Emacs being "weird" because it uses the word "window" differently -
that's another thing.  I have never encountered a newbie taking Emacs
for a test drive who could not understand, when told what an Emacs
window is.  Have you?

That's rehashing. It's not about understanding. It's about what impression you make.

Other things being equal, of course we want to make things easy to learn.
Of course we do not want to throw up unnecessary obstacles.  Gratuitous
differences in terminology for identical things should be dealt with -
and they generally are.

So why do you object when people want to deal with this particular gratuitous difference in terminology? The proposed window->pane change doesn't affect other stuff. Yes, an Emacs "buffer" for instance is an Emacs concept that you have to learn because it's different from what you've used elsewhere, but that's not part of this at all.
That kind of hand-holding encouragement is fine.  But there is no reason
to underestimate potential users.  Some people will give up without
giving Emacs a chance.  So what?  Others will not - just as you did not.
Why suppose that potential Emacs users are less patient or curious or
intelligent than we are?

My using Emacs is irrelevant. One reason is that I learned (Teco) Emacs in the 1980s, when expectations on how to learn programs were very different from now, and with not really any other text editors to choose from anyway. Another is that the main reason I'm using (GNU) Emacs now is that it's the editor of the GNU system. If GNU had gone with something else I would probably have started using that instead, even though that would have been a much bigger transition than going from one Emacs to another.


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