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Re: Implicit assumptions in the latest discussions

From: Robert Pluim
Subject: Re: Implicit assumptions in the latest discussions
Date: Thu, 17 Sep 2020 16:01:17 +0200

>>>>> On Thu, 17 Sep 2020 15:30:48 +0200, Daniele Nicolodi <daniele@grinta.net> 
>>>>> said:

    Daniele> Hello,
    Daniele> I admit I just read a minimal part of the posts in the current 
    Daniele> about making Emacs simpler, or friendlier, or more "modern" (for a
    Daniele> definition of modern very different to mine). However, I would 
like to
    Daniele> express my doubts about the assumptions implicit in these 

    Daniele> These assumptions seem to be:

    Daniele> 1. Emacs would be better if it had a larger user base or the Emacs 
    Daniele> would be better served by an Emacs that appeals to a larger user 
base. I
    Daniele> think that this can be true only as far as another assumption hold,
    Daniele> namely that with a larger user base there would be more manpower 
to work
    Daniele> on Emacs itself, thus Emacs will become better because more people 
    Daniele> hacking on it.

    Daniele> I don't think there can be any correlation between the number of 
    Daniele> of Emacs and the number of hackers interesting in working on it. 
If the
    Daniele> end goal is to make Emacs development more sustainable, an easier 
way to
    Daniele> get there would be to modernize the development practices used to 
    Daniele> on Emacs itself. However, this is a much harder (social) problem 
to solve.

Youʼre falling into the "the 'modern' gitlab/github etc dev practices
are better" fallacy here. Theyʼre more *familiar* to certain people,
but I donʼt really like them, because too much of the interaction is
done with a browser (and Iʼm sure Iʼm not alone). See discussions on
this list about moving to such workflows whilst ensuring that email
can still be used.

    Daniele> 2. Users are not drawn to try Emacs because what Emacs is and for 
    Daniele> reputation, but because they expect Emacs to be like other editors.

    Daniele> I think that who chooses Emacs, does so because of what Emacs is 
    Daniele> what it has been in its long history, not because they expect 
    Daniele> different. If they expect something different, Emacs has an 
    Daniele> technical disadvantage compared to younger editors that are based 
    Daniele> different technologies and that do not want (need?) to keep
    Daniele> compatibility if an incredibly long history.

    Daniele> Probably there are better thing that can be done to make the 
    Daniele> of these users better than providing "simplified" Emacs 
    Daniele> because the users that choose Emacs don't want a simplified Emacs, 
    Daniele> want better ways to access the power of Emacs.

    Daniele> Having "simplified" modes also poses the problem of allowing the 
    Daniele> to "graduate" from the simplified environment to the full blown 
one. I
    Daniele> haven't see this discussed.

I think "simplified" is not the goal here, but "more familiar". Unlike
development practices, I see no issue here with offering that kind of
experience by default, since I can turn it off easily. The
"graduation" problem exists, but thatʼs easily solved with
documentation :-)

    Daniele> 3. Emacs is perfect as it is, but the users do not understand it.

    Daniele> I feel that a lot of the discussions are centered toward having 
ways to
    Daniele> simplify Emacs to make it more appealing to new users or to some 
    Daniele> specific classes of prospective users. Wouldn't it be more 
    Daniele> and wouldn't it be better for who already has invested in Emacs 
    Daniele> the current users) to discuss ways to make Emacs better for 

    Daniele> For example, GNU/Linux is the platform where Emacs should run best,
    Daniele> however, as far as I know, there is currently no way to run Emacs 
on a
    Daniele> Wayland compositor, and Wayland is the future of graphical 
interfaces on
    Daniele> GNU/Linux. Also, some of the complexity of hacking on Emacs, comes 
    Daniele> supporting a wide range of graphical toolkits. Wouldn't it be a
    Daniele> worthwhile goal to support a graphical toolkit that works on 
    Daniele> and then make it the only one supported (at least on GNU/Linux) and
    Daniele> redirect some hacking energy into making this solution a good 
    Daniele> for everyone (hacking on the toolkit itself if necessary)? This 
would be
    Daniele> much more important to keep Emacs relevant in a few years from now 
    Daniele> a Emacs-simplified-mode.

Thereʼs an effort underway already to port emacs to 'pure' gtk, which
allows running directly on Wayland. See eg

    Daniele> While the use of a specific graphical toolkit may seems a technical
    Daniele> issue far from the current discussions, I would like to point out 
    Daniele> also this is mostly a "social" issue: removing support for other
    Daniele> toolkits will affect those that for one reason or another prefer 
to use
    Daniele> Motif Emacs.

There are people who are very attached to using the Lucid toolkit, and
they have valid reasons. Once the 'pure' gtk is in, thereʼs no reason
to remove Lucid support, but there'd also be no reason to enhance it.


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