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Re: Changes for emacs 28

From: Yoni Rabkin
Subject: Re: Changes for emacs 28
Date: Mon, 07 Sep 2020 11:19:44 -0400
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/27.1 (gnu/linux)

Ergus <spacibba@aol.com> writes:

> On Mon, Sep 07, 2020 at 09:58:32AM -0400, Yoni Rabkin wrote:
>>Ergus <spacibba@aol.com> writes:
>>> I am NOT telling we should do all this, but this is what a young user
>>> expects because all these is more or less standard everywhere else.
>>I appreciate you enthusiasm for making Emacs popular. Thank you for
>>However, it is always jarring to me to see free software developers
>>arguing over features none of them like or want, and instead trying to
>>"prove" to the other that a hypothetical third person would really like
>>those features. This supposed "young user" is a pretend person; they
>>don't exist. People ascribe whatever properties they want to the poor
>>hypothetical "young user" and then argue that those properties require a
>>change in Emacs. I disagree with this approach because I think that real
>>people and their preferences are more complicated and subtle than any
>>person we can make up as a tool to back an argument.
> The post actually started not for adding new features, but just to
> change some of our defaults. Actually one thing I don't like about doom
> or spacemacs is the excessive complexity they add and long configuration
> sets.

Configuration defaults, configurability, and features are
interchangeable in this discussion.

> When I recommend Emacs to any of my students; after a week trying it
> they finally go for VSCode or sublime and they get the work done in an
> hour.

That's an interesting initial point, but I don't follow the leap you
made since there are no details. You are trying to make a strong point
in comparing a week of failure to an hour of success. But unfortunately
that doesn't explain what needs to be changed.

> Actually I have this config I share with them with only vanilla features:
> https://github.com/Ergus/mini_dotemacs
> And so far I could convince at least some of them this year.

Convince to do what? Have they been convinced to move to Emacs as a
development platform going forward? To use Emacs just for the course? To
value software freedom?

Conversely, if they used "sublime" (which I assume is an editor) for
that university course, does that mean that they have rejected software
freedom in some way? Does that mean they are now life-long sublime
users? Do they also read their email, browse the web, listen to music,
watch videos, and interface with task-management systems via sublime?

I hope those questions don't come across as badgering. Instead, I'm
trying to point out that the conclusions you've come to aren't implied
by the information you've provided.

If you've found a way to provide a popular configuration for Emacs for
your university environment, it may make sense to package that and make
it easy to install. After all, the power of Emacs is in what it can
become, as opposed to what it is when you load it.

>>If you want these features yourself then you should add them (I don't
>>mean that in a sarcastic way at all). Your enthusiasm for creating and
>>maintaining these features will appeal to others who want similar
>>features. We all know and love this way of development in the free
>>software development world. This way assures that at least one real
>>person's needs are being met.
> Again, are not features the "issue", but some "bad" defaults. If there
> come out specific features I will try (as I am doing actually with
> vertical-icomplete or highlight-completions).
> The question to the developers was about defaults we would be willing
> to change and which are whiten in stone.

The loud introduction screen to Emacs is what made me aware of the
existence of the free software movement about 20 years ago. It would not
be hyperbole to say that particular default changed the course of my

If there is such a thing as an ideal default for Emacs, it would be
being presented with a screen that succinctly explains the free software
movement and the endless possibilities of Emacs as a platform.

I would try to argue for a robust and easy way for you to be able to
provide people with the kind of setup for Emacs that you are obviously
enthusiastic about, regardless of how Emacs loads. If you can't do that,
then to my mind Emacs is indeed missing something.

>>If you don't want these features yourself and nobody else in the project
>>wants them either, the only way I can think of making a compelling
>>argument for people to develop those feature is to ask real people and
>>get real responses. I am fairly confident that if you had a testimony or
>>user-test from actual people stating that a feature is missing, then
>>people here would help develop that feature.
> Actually as mentioned before, the existence of doom emacs, spacemacs and
> all the other configs (some of them more popular than vanilla these
> days) is a proof.

I'm unsure of what you mean by that. If those have features that GNU
Emacs doesn't and that you want, then you should port them
over. Unfortunately, I have a feeling we may be talking past each other
on this point.

   "Cut your own wood and it will warm you twice"

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