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Re: Convert README.org to plain text README while installing package

From: chad
Subject: Re: Convert README.org to plain text README while installing package
Date: Wed, 8 Jun 2022 15:26:28 -0400

On Tue, Jun 7, 2022 at 7:04 PM Tim Cross <theophilusx@gmail.com> wrote:
So going back to my original post, which was simply saying that
implying you would get 784 additional key bindings just because you open
an org file was misleading because you simply don't get that many
additional key bindings when you open an org file - in fact, you get
only about 1/3 of that many.

I'll add to this statement: the vast majority of those keybindings aren't relevant when viewing a read-only org file, which is what we're talking about here. In fact, I used Org (very lightly) for a few years with exactly these two extra keybindings: Control-Return and Meta-Return. I also used Tab to expand/compact headings, so perhaps three, depending on your usage (I was coming from outline-mode, so this wasn't new.) This is a read/write usage, not a read-only usage.

Everything else is basically the same. There are a few places where Org changes the meaning of keys to accommodate Org features, but most of these are DWIM-ish adaptations, or they're guarded by an Org warning that Org uses the keys for something else (for example, shift-selection). A few years in, I discovered that Org would automatically reflow the plain-text tables I sometimes used, and I learned another use for the Tab key; as near as I can tell, this feature had been present for months if not years without ever bothering me.

These days, most of my work involves creative writing and light number crunching, not coding; as part of that, I use dozens of text files over several active topics. I keep these in a simple hierarchy of plain Org files. These load in emacs instantaneously. I search through them using standard text-searching tools (mostly find and grep, sometimes trying out things like fd, ack, ripgrep, and deadgrep). I once started reading the Org manual (several years ago) and bounced off pretty quickly; I haven't been back in years (although I hear that the manual has improved quite a lot since then, and it's on my overly-long todo list for "someday".)

I say all this not to try to convince anyone to try Org; in fact, if you're not already using outline-mode a bunch, then you're probably only interested in Org if there's a specific use that you'd like for emacs (agenda, note-keeping, literate programming, etc). That said, there are people, especially elisp package authors, who use it and like it and will continue to use it to write package documentation. In the (few) packages that I personally load, most have a README.org, a few have a README.md, and none have a plain README. 

Put another way, this isn't about encouraging authors to use Org or not; the authors have chosen already. For people who don't really want to try to "learn Org": I hear and understand. I've been there myself; time is usually rarer than interesting ideas to explore. I'm writing this in the hope that it encourages people to not be afraid of looking at .org files even if you don't have the time, interest, or inclination to "learn Org", because while the ocean is indeed (seemingly?) quite deep, the shallow end is quite comfortable. In the meantime, we can all hope that the arrival of the "modular Org" is sooner rather than later.

Hope that helps,

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