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Re: Change of Lisp syntax for "fancy" quotes in Emacs 27?

From: Paul Eggert
Subject: Re: Change of Lisp syntax for "fancy" quotes in Emacs 27?
Date: Fri, 5 Oct 2018 16:02:09 -0700
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:60.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/60.0

On 10/5/18 1:43 AM, Eli Zaretskii wrote:
the commonly accepted mechanism of
pointing out potentially wrong constructs is by visual cues and
warning messages

If we decide that Elisp source code must be able to abuse confusable characters, then of course we should allow such abuse and support it as best we can, including selective highlighting and whatnot to try to warn readers of the abuse. Such support won't work outside Emacs, but people using non-Emacs programs to look at Elisp code will simply be out of luck.

However, that would be heading in the wrong direction, because we shouldn't assume that Elisp code is reviewed only via Emacs. I regularly use Savannah's web interface to look at Elisp source code diffs, for example, and there's lots of other ways I and other developers use non-Emacs programs to look at Elisp source. Because reading source code is an essential property of free software, and because it would set a bad precedent if we said or implied that one really should use only Emacs to read Elisp code, we can't sufficiently address the problem merely by highlighting characters when Emacs is viewing them in a certain way and saying or implying that people should use only Emacs to review Elisp code.

I'm not arguing that Elisp should prohibit symbols from containing confusing characters, only that these characters should be easily recognizable in plain-text source code, without requiring Emacs itself (configured a certain way) to view the source. For example, if we required a backslash before every confusable character in a symbol, that would go a long way toward addressing the problem.

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