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Re: [Emacs-diffs] master 9ce1d38: Use curved quotes in core elisp diagno

From: Paul Eggert
Subject: Re: [Emacs-diffs] master 9ce1d38: Use curved quotes in core elisp diagnostics
Date: Mon, 24 Aug 2015 15:25:11 -0700
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:38.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/38.1.0

On 08/24/2015 01:20 PM, Richard Stallman wrote:
We could let the first argument to 'format'
be a symbol that specifies how to transform the format string.

Something like that could work, yes. For example, instead of the current master's:

  (format-message FORMAT ARGS)

we could have:

  (format 'message FORMAT ARGS)

where 'message means "Format appropriately for message functions" and translates curved quotes to the user's preferred style. We can add support for other symbols or lists of symbols in place of 'message.

format-message does have an advantage, though: it simplifies backward-compatibility implementation. For example, code intended to work reasonably well in older Emacs can do this:

  (unless (fboundp 'format-message) (defalias 'format-message 'format))

and doing this sort of thing would be somewhat trickier with (format 'message ...). So perhaps we should keep the (format-message ...) convenience function even if we also add (format 'message ...).

curly quotes and other non-ASCII characters in comments within Emacs ... 
[provide] no_practical_  benefit to anyone.

This doesn't match my experience. In the past few weeks I've edited hundreds of diagnostics and docstrings in Elisp files, and in my environment curved quotes are significantly more practical than %< and %> would be. With %< and %>, I'd have to hit three or four keys to type a quote, and the digraphs would make it harder to quickly judge string length and alignment. In my environment curved quotes are also significantly better in strings than grave accent and apostrophe, as I can type curved quotes with single unshifted keystrokes, as compared to having to hit three keys to type either grave accent or apostrophe. Emacs should support environments that make curved quotes this easy; it shouldn't fight against them.

Perhaps for other users and other environments %< and %> are better, and so it'd be OK to add support for %< and %> in format strings, and I can volunteer to do that if you think it'd be helpful. However, Emacs shouldn't *force* people to use %< and %> to get this functionality: there should be an easy way to quote intuitively, with quote characters standing for themselves in typical usage.

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