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

From: Drew Adams
Subject: RE: Emacs terminology (not again!?) [was: Apologia for bzr]
Date: Thu, 9 Jan 2014 08:44:38 -0800 (PST)

>>> users can get the impression that Emacs is not for them because it's weird.
>>> If they in just the first half hour of using Emacs meet several such things
>>> they may conclude that working with Emacs will continue to be like this;
>>> now and then it will turn out that it doesn't work as "expected" and that
>>> there are new names for everything, etc.  Why not use That Other Editor
>>> that some other people suggested instead?
>> Why not, indeed?  Problem solved.
> 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?

>> (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 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.

Emacs losing out because Eclipse or whatever offers more code-refactoring
(or whatever) power, out of the box - that's one thing.  Emacs has room
for improvement in lots of areas, no doubt about that.

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?

But yes, it might take more than 1/2 hour for Emacs to introduce itself
properly to a user.  ("Hello there, I'm GNU Emacs. Who are you?")

This isn't a cocktail party!  But even if it were, there are some people
who, if given the opportunity, would give up in 5 minutes after being
introduced to the likes of <INSERT HERE your favorite respected
luminaries and Great Ones>, even if they spoke the same language.  Some
people are unfortunately "those people".

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.

  But (a) that is rare (the Emacs thingies are not really the same), and
  (b) even then it is not important to toe the line.  Especially if the
  things are identical, it is easy to learn new terms for them.

The Emacs UI and doc have been dealing with this for almost 4 decades
now.  It does take at least a few minutes and a few examples to get the
notion and behavior of an Emacs "buffer".  Weird!  Not what you're used
to.  Give it a little time.  A better mousetrap - you'll see.

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?

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