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Re: [External] : Re: Default custom file was: Re: Propose to add setup-w

From: Po Lu
Subject: Re: [External] : Re: Default custom file was: Re: Propose to add setup-wizard.el to ELPA
Date: Sat, 08 Jan 2022 08:54:58 +0800
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/28.0.60 (gnu/linux)

Drew Adams <drew.adams@oracle.com> writes:

> Consider `transient-mark-mode'.
> Its existence in Emacs was status quo for a
> very long time, and the behavior was OFF.
> Until it wasn't - the status quo was changed
> to ON.  Holy Toledo!

> That was a backward-incompatible change in
> behavior.  It affected thousands of users.
> It took us _decades_ to get that change made.
> Status quo, status quo, status quo.

And I didn't like that change.  IMO, it was a bad idea, but the
decision has already been made.  Here, it has not, so it would be good
to not repeat the same mistake.

> And why was that change finally made?  It's
> what those who decided expected that more
> users would expect & want.  Users out in
> the wild expect to see text that they select
> to act on ("activated") be highlighted, so
> they can see what they'll act on.
> What was the effect on users who did NOT
> want `transient-mark-mode' on by default?
> They turned it off.  End of story.  Some
> muffled grumbles, nothing more.  Why?
> Because you can still use Emacs as before -
> just turn `t-m-mode' off (Customize).
> Happy campers all around.

Lucky.  We don't know that would be the case here.  (And it was not
the case with transient-mark-mode either.)

> Why didn't we go all the way toward what most
> new users out there really expected, which is
> something more like `delete-selection-mode'
> (which turns on `transient-mark-mode')?  Why
> stop with `t-m-mode', which corresponds to
> neither what users get outside Emacs nor what
> Emacs behavior is with `t-m-mode' off?
> We should have, IMO.  Not enough weight to
> balance the rotund body of Status Quo.  I've
> been betting on `delete-selection-mode' being
> turned on by default after a few decades, but
> it's already been a few decades now...  (I'm
> still betting on that happening sometime.)

Turning delete-selection-mode on by default would be extremely
confusing.  I sincerely hope that long standing default behavior will
never change as well.

> I'm as strong a proponent of not rocking the
> status-quo boat as anyone.  And opinions can
> certainly differ about whether `custom-file'
> should default to a file name.  But what's
> the downside of changing such a default
> change?
> A relatively few users - those who remain
> wedded to using only their init file - would
> need to set `custom-file' to their init file
> (or to nil, if we interpret that as using
> the init file after the default change).

> Yes, and?  Anyone can rely on the behavior
> they've long relied on and enjoyed, by just
> setting `custom-file' to their init file.
> End of story.

Nobody knows how "few" those users are, and even if someone did, it
would still be better to cause less churn.

> In the case of `transient-mark-mode' I'd wager
> that the _vast_ majority - maybe 90% - of
> existing Emacs users had `t-m-mode' off when
> the default was switched to on.

>From anecdotal experience at my workplace, that is simply false.

> And I'd wager that a minority of them bothered
> to switch it to off after the default changed.

Also untrue.

> It's not only about individual preferences,
> and especially not only about _current_ ones.
> It's also about what we expect will be best
> for most users, and in particular most users
> in the future.  Most Emacs users are future
> users, not current users.  What's the best
> behavior for them?  I think it's to separate
> the file that Customize writes to from their
> init file.
> But _every_ user will have a simple, trivial,
> quick, one-time way to get the behavior they
> prefer: just set `custom-file' to the file
> they want Customize to write to, whether
> that be their init file or another file.
> Sensible behavior by default for everyone.
> Individual preferences respected.  Happy
> campers, all.

That's a catch-all excuse to make random changes, and a very slippery
slope.  Imagine how many "one-time solutions" there would have to be
if we made more and more changes under that slogan.

> The exact number, sure.  But not the relative
> number.  Unless Emacs is blown off the globe
> it's certain that there will be more users in
> the future than there are today.

And that globe might as well be blown to pieces tomorrow, so it is
utterly pointless to make changes to please those who might not even

> Diehards who said the same thing about turning
> on `transient-mark-mode' will admit today that
> their alarmism was misplaced.

I don't.  I know as a fact that it's annoying for people switching
between Emacs 23 and 21, both of which still have users.


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