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Re: Some developement questions

From: Ergus
Subject: Re: Some developement questions
Date: Sun, 9 Sep 2018 19:18:45 +0200
User-agent: NeoMutt/20180716

On Sun, Sep 09, 2018 at 02:07:02AM -0400, Richard Stallman wrote:
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 > I'm fine with encouraging people to learn these movement keys, but how
 > do the available movement keys give beginners good reasons to use Emacs,
 > and how do they make using it better for them?

For the second question, they make cursor motion faster.
The fact that it can be faster is a reason to use Emacs
but I won't claim that reason is visible to people thinking
about using Emacs.

 > Tutorials which take this into account more strongly might be more
 > encouraging to use Emacs in the first place, and then beginners might
 > want to learn the special movement keys.

That approach might be good, but what can we do to encourage them to
learn the cursor-motion commands later on?

I just started using the traditional keybindings like 3 months ago and I
have been with emacs like 4 years now; so I agree that traditional
keybindings are not transcendental to enjoy emacs (or edit efficiently
because I made 2 thesis without that).

On the other hand I only see some advantage in few of them (C-a, C-e,
C-d), but not all. The C-n/p/b/f are closer, that's true, but requires 2
hands constantly in action and p-n-b-f are not close each other (b and f
are supposed to be typed with different hands in fact). The arrows, in
my keyboard for example, are not far enough from the rest of the keys
so using them is just easier (see the hp elitebook keyboards).
But also C-b/C-f are not very comfortable to be using them
constantly with one hand.

I understand that the keys are designed to be easier to remember, but
not to type in a qwerty keyboard without extensive training. But the
related M-{ M-} are harder remember and to type than C-up C-down because they 
3 (Alt-Shift+) fingers vs 2 (Control+) and are not related with C-p C-n,
so also are difficult to remember.

So the efficiency advantage of C-* displacement is very subjective in this 

Comparing for example with vim; the commands are easier to type because
with the modes it doesn't need modifiers with the other hand, but also
hjkl are close each other. But even with all that, new vim's users prefer the
arrows just because "up" is over "down".

So I feel like the real issue here is the "backward compatibility" with
experienced users. But if that's the only priority, it will be very
difficult to attract new users with new ideas and new points of view to
emacs. That's why the spacemacs community is growing, because it
offers a more familiar behavior (even without evil mode).

 > BTW, I still don't see how anyone could move around efficiently when it
 > requires to press ESC.  Does it require a special keyboard?

Nowadays, essentially all keyboards have an Alt key, so one never needs
to use ESC for cursor motion.

Dr Richard Stallman
President, Free Software Foundation (https://gnu.org, https://fsf.org)
Internet Hall-of-Famer (https://internethalloffame.org)

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