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Re: Making Emacs more friendly to newcomers

From: Arthur Miller
Subject: Re: Making Emacs more friendly to newcomers
Date: Tue, 05 May 2020 15:58:42 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/28.0.50 (gnu/linux)

Richard Stallman <address@hidden> writes:

> [[[ To any NSA and FBI agents reading my email: please consider    ]]]
> [[[ whether defending the US Constitution against all enemies,     ]]]
> [[[ foreign or domestic, requires you to follow Snowden's example. ]]]
>   > > Emacs would be a more drastic UI change than the one Blender made,
>   > Njah, they rewrote their GUI code almost completely.
> I think we are talking past each other.
Easy happends on the Internet, but I don't think we are, at least not

> be misunderstanding everything about it.  But I think that in Blender,
> the command set is just an interface, whereas in Emacs, the commands
> are what it is.

> You can develop another interface to Emacs.  We could support it as an option,
> but it would not be Emacs.

It probably depends on what you define as a command as well as what you
see as Emacs identity. If you identify Emacs as a set of shortcuts and
terminology then changig C-x C-f to C-o and cutting instead of'killing'
stuff will probably introde on it's identity. I personally don't identify
Emacs as a bunch of shortcuts. To me the identity lies more deeply under
the surface, and the outer surface is just a handle to operate Emacs.
The beauty and practicality of Emacs is that handle can be easily exchanged.

> I think that animation is fundamentally more complex than text.  Not
> just a little more complex, but enormously and deeply so.  I expect
> Blender has a lot of very different and very complex things it can do
> to the animation being edited.  So a Blender user would be thinking
> all the time about which complex and sophisticated operation perse
> wants to do next, and the commands to invoke the operation would be
> secondary.
> Whereas in Emacs, I think, we are focused on lots of commands to
> do more-or-less transparent things with text.
I am neither modeller nor animator myself, so I am not an expert either.
I don't think though the complexity matter so much, at least not in
context of this discussion.

Regardless of what complex operations an animator would think of in a 3D
application and what an Emacs user would think in an Editor, the
priniple is same: one think in terms of what one would do to a content
one works with. The commands to invoke those are secondary. When I
write this email, and type a misstake, I think in terms of moving the
cursor to correct place and deleting characters etc. Which shortcuts I
use, or mouse movements, etc, is secondary. If I wrote this in browser
instead of Emacs, I would involve different set of shortcuts but they
would execute "same" set of commands. Even though those commands are named
differently and implemented differently (different programming language,
environment etc) I still think in same logical terms of moving cursor
and replacing characters.

So if newcomers open Emacs and want to do simple things like
cut/copy/paste, open file etc, something that has very similar set of
shortcuts in very many applications nowdays, they would just type a
misstake in their content in Emacs, which probably leads to frustration.
Then they will open fine manual and stat searching for cut and copy and
paste and found nothing because we call it differen around here :-).
OK, I am carricaturing, it is not really true at least not for those simple
cases, but I hope it illustrates what I mean.

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