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Re: "Why is emacs so square?"

From: Ahmed Khanzada
Subject: Re: "Why is emacs so square?"
Date: Fri, 17 Apr 2020 15:05:58 -0700
User-agent: Wanderlust/2.15.9 (Almost Unreal) SEMI-EPG/1.14.7 (Harue) FLIM/1.14.9 (Goj┼Ź) APEL/10.8 EasyPG/1.0.0 Emacs/28.0 (x86_64-pc-linux-gnu) MULE/6.0 (HANACHIRUSATO)

Joseph, a few things come to mind from reading your email:

1. Terminal-based Vim is not like a modern application, yet is more
popular than Emacs.

2. The audience for Emacs are people interested in using free
software and Lisp to extend their text editing experience. Very few of
these will be "casual editors", and in fact the FSF provides libre casual
editing software through the GNOME project.

3. If Emacs was to become a "modern" app tomorrow, an editor extended
in Lisp still only has appeal for a minority of programmers, much like
the Lisp language itself. Most programmers looking for easy and modern
experiences will likely stick with Atom and Sublime.

4. Most of the push for a "modern look" comes from the desire for Emacs
to play more nicely with proprietary platforms. Rather, the goal of
Emacs is to support platforms like GNU/Linux. Platforms that respect
your freedom, and also do not push a corporate UI/UX vision of "modernity".

(Perhaps if we do move forward with modernization, we should think of
modernization in the context of something like GNOME rather than MacOS
or Windows. Surely Emacs could be a better citizen of GNOME.)

5. Given that many of the people complaining about how Emacs looks are not
submitting patches to fix the problem themselves, resources would be diverted
from actual functionality to "modernity".

6. By the time we do major code refactoring "modernizing" Emacs on the
major proprietary platforms, what is "modern" has now once again
changed, and our resources were put towards a project with a poor return on

Basically, I don't see a "modernizing" project playing out well. We will
spend extensive time and energy on a moving target, and even if we
succeed, our Lisp-based vision still has limited appeal. Additionally, I
don't think "modernizing" Emacs advances the cause of free software,
given that there are other more popular casual libre tools for text editing
that individuals can use.

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