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Re: basic question: going back to dired

From: Xah
Subject: Re: basic question: going back to dired
Date: Thu, 31 Jul 2008 02:57:51 -0700 (PDT)
User-agent: G2/1.0

On Jul 22, 1:23 am, Bastien Guerry <address@hidden> wrote:
> Xah <address@hidden> writes:
> > On Jul 21, 11:59 am, Ben Aurel <address@hidden> wrote:
> >> hi
> >> This is my first post here, so I hope this is the right place for asking
> >> beginner questions.
> >> My question is simple: When I list some files in dired mode I select one
> >> file to edit. Now how can I close this file and go back to dired without
> >> closing emacs?
> > To close the file, use the menu “File‣Close”. Emacs doesn't have a
> > keyboard shortcut for this due the fact that emacs has build on the
> > 1980's mindset and havn't modernized.
> Or because the concept of "File" is not as central as the concept of
> "buffer".   It is not a question of being modern or not.  In the 1980's
> the notion of "file" already existed, and today, projects like OLPC are
> putting it aside.
> > (global-set-key (kbd "C-w") 'kill-this-buffer) ; close
> Please don't suggest this.
> `C-w' is for `kill-region' which is fundamental - see the manual
>   (info "(emacs)Killing")
> When you're answering questions about Emacs, better to refer to the
> manual as much as possible.  At least more than your own tutorials,
> which can give a biaised view about Emacs.

Yes i agree that «When you're answering questions about Emacs, better
to refer to to the manual as much as possible.». However, i'm thinking
that some terms used in emacs can use improvement by adapting more
modern terms that has for one reason or another become standard among
Windows, Mac, Linux, which together accounts for perhaps 99% of
computer use.

In this thread, i suggest that the term “buffer” could be changed to
“tab”, “file”, “workspace” or something similar, and “keybinding” can
be changed to “keyboard shortcut” in any context that's not about
assiging a keyboard shortcut.

Note that Emacs does officially recognize the term Keyboard Shortcut.
The following is a excerpt from glossary section of the official emacs
manual from emacs 22:

Keyboard Shortcut
     A keyboard shortcut is a key sequence (q.v.) which invokes a
     command. What some programs call "assigning a keyboard shortcut,"
     Emacs calls "binding a key sequence."  See `binding.'

If we adapt the term keyboard shortcut instead of keybinding, it will
reduce one learning step. As for “assigning a keyboard shortcut”, the
act is more programing oriented or for advanced users, so i think
“creating a keybinding” or “bind a key” is still appropriate in emacs
and elisp doc.

The point is about reducing learning steps by using terms that most
people already understand.

You may argue that “keybinding” is more technically correct. However,
terminologies in the industry, may it be science or technology,
changes by various forces. Today, “keyboard shortcut” for good or bad
has become the dominant, universally understood term. Adopting it
wouldn't hurt emacs's power in anyway, nor i think cause any

About the term “buffer”, it's more complex to explain. We can look at
it in another way. Almost all other text editing and IDE apps, they
don't use that term. MS VisualStudio, Apple's XCode, BBEdit, Eclipse,
TextMate, Microsoft Word...

If you look at these software, actually they are buffer too. How can
they not be buffers? However, they don't use that term, because the
term really is more forceful if you think of the app in terms of

Similar situation occurs in other apps and terms, for example:
directory → folder, file manager → Desktop, pointing device → mouse
(what?? a rodent??), left button and right butten → first button and
second button, server and client → client and server in X, Windows and
Frames in most apps and html is Frames and Windows in emacs, copy/cut/
paste is kill-ring-save/kill-region/yank (huh??) etc.

If you look at detail, one may argue some are more technically
correct. But the point is that for whatever reasons, certain choice of
terms becomes the dominant, standard, ones. English itself and its
lexicon are largely inconsistent and down right weird. For example,
what's the logic of “OK”? What's the logic in double negatives like “I
aint't no gonna do it”? What's with “hell no!”. Some of these will get
grammarian and pundit's blood flying, but the fact is that for complex
social reasons, logic and technical merit is not the main force in how
usage changes. As Juanma Barranquero mentioned in this thread, there's
descriptive vs perscritive stances that's one of the main controversy
among English experts. This issue is so big that entire dictionary are
created as a result in this controversy (American Heritage Dict).

> > The “buffer” is term used in the 1980s. Today you
> > just call it “Tabs” or “workspace”.
> Huh?
> The notion of "buffer" might be emacs specific, but it's not 1980's.
> The OP is asking about Emacs, not your own science fiction.

I'm somewhat a amature expert in linguistics, in particular lexicon
and terminology. I've actually wrote a lot about the issue of
terminologies. For some diverson, see:

• Politics and the English Language

• Math Terminology and Naming of Things

• A Review of 3 Dictionaries

• English Vocabulary Compendium


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