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A Modest Proposal

From: Lars Ingebrigtsen
Subject: A Modest Proposal
Date: Sun, 01 May 2016 01:38:00 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/25.1.50 (gnu/linux)

I've been on the couch with a cold for the past few days, so I've been
doing documentation and doc string tweaks to avoid going crazy with
boredom.  (It was either that or watch Murder She Wrote.)

I've been reminded this time over that (apart from the many pieces of
Emacs that I know nothing about), there are two areas I don't really
like touching:  Customize and dired.


When I try to chase down a rendering bug or ... anything, I'm seldom
able to.  Everything seems to happen somewhere else.  In addition, it
does a lot of stuff with overlays instead of text overlays (which I find
more convenient to interface with, especially when debugging).

And looking at the number of commit messages, perhaps I'm not the only

Perhaps it's time just to throw in the towel and reimplement it from
scratch?  I'm talking about the user interface only, of course.  The
`defcustom' language etc etc etc are fine as they are.

Perhaps we could just start generating HTML write a new interface on top
of shr or something?  Or gtk+?  I dunno.  But I think it's an idea that
somebody who's looking for a nice little project should consider.


I think the basic design is misguided.  There is so much talk about
matching up "ls" parameters to internal stuff that it makes my head
swim.  (Even if I'm not feverish.)  C'mon.  We're not barbarians.  We
can read directories ourselves.

In addition, dired (in some places) tries to use the visual
representation in the buffer for something useful, which limits what can
and can't be displayed.  Specifying what files to work on as a regexp is
just kinda nauseating.  (Did I mention my cold?)

It has been mentioned that the reliance on "ls" would enable a future
more async version of dired, but we can use the async.el library for
that just as well, without all the drawbacks.

So that's another little project for somebody: Implement a dired clone
from a UI interface standpoint, but implement it in a more flexible
way.  Then we can make dired obsolete in a few years.

(domestic pets only, the antidote for overdose, milk.)
   bloggy blog: http://lars.ingebrigtsen.no

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