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Re: Android port of Emacs

From: Dr. Arne Babenhauserheide
Subject: Re: Android port of Emacs
Date: Fri, 16 Jun 2023 17:16:16 +0200
User-agent: mu4e 1.10.2; emacs 29.0.90

Eli Zaretskii <eliz@gnu.org> writes:

> I wonder whether the Android port of Emacs, which is being developed
> by Po Lu for the past few months, should be part of the upstream Emacs
> and whether it should be distributed as part of the Emacs release
> tarballs.  The advantage of having the Android support bundled is that
> we allow people to build the Android port right out of the release
> tarball.  However, Android is a proprietary platform, so it isn't one
> of the systems that we are required to target.  I also don't think
> Android (and smartphones in general) will become the main, or even
> important, platform for Emacs any time soon.

Seeing how many people struggle to get working org-mode support on
Android — the many attempts at mobile org — and that more and more
people only know Android and will never own a regular computer, I think
the Android port is a serious advantage.

We also do not need to support any proprietary platform with it, since
releases can be served via F-Droid that only provides Free Software.

> An alternative would be for the Android support to be a separate
> project on Savannah.  Maybe in the long run this would be better?

I think that this would risk becoming stale. I’d rather see a somewhat
maintained port that moves slowly (but keeps working) than a separate
project that moves quickly until it stops and then breaks due to some
API change in Emacs which none of the Emacs developers spotted, because
it only affected an external project.

From my experience the maintenance work created by a big external
project is larger than if the project is part of the tree, because with
the external project compatibility problems are not detected by the
usual tooling directly during development.

Closing thought: one of the largest advantages of learning to use Emacs
instead of any other tool is that Emacs can follow you wherever you go.
Whatever the platform you may (be forced to?) use in the future, Emacs
will be there and your skills will be an advantage. The android port
closes a significant gap for this. I’ve seen several people move their
workflows to proprietary web applications because “then I can use it on
the tablet”. Emacs on Android can provide a viable alternative to that.

Emacs is where developers are, and nowadays many developers are on
Android for large parts of their time.

Best wishes,
Unpolitisch sein
heißt politisch sein,
ohne es zu merken.

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