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Re: How to get rid of *GNU Emacs* buffer on start-up?

From: Xah Lee
Subject: Re: How to get rid of *GNU Emacs* buffer on start-up?
Date: Mon, 22 Sep 2008 06:07:34 -0700 (PDT)
User-agent: G2/1.0

On Sep 20, 1:17 am, Alan Mackenzie <address@hidden> wrote:
> 'Morning,Xah!
> On Fri, Sep 19, 2008 at 05:50:38PM -0700,XahLeewrote:
> > On Sep 19, 1:36 pm, Alan Mackenzie <address@hidden> wrote:
> > > It is necessary to have _some_ buffer when starting Emacs.
> > Not really. If you look at most apps, they provide either untitle or
> > empty page, and has user pref to set whether to do that or just have
> > nothing.
> There is no nothing.  Something must appear on the screen, even if it's
> only blank space.  In Emacs, that something is a buffer, even if it's
> empty.  From a pragmatic point of view, to change Emacs to be able to
> have no buffer would be a massive amount of work for negligible gain -
> people use Emacs to edit things, not to look at nothing.

many apps, including most browsers and text editor, can start without
a window present. (on the Mac)

 In fact, i think that's most apps behave on the Mac these days. (as
opposed to must having a window present. (on Windows, this is somewhat
irrelavent since each app are often in its own window with menu bar))

In AquaMacs for example, you can close all buffers, windows, frames,
without quiting the app.

> > Even so, you don't need *scratch*. You can just have ???untitled???.
> I think all those question marks would confuse people.

Why do u keep using a broken newsreader that don't understand unicode
and insist about the issue? C'mon.

> > > I don't know where you get your figure of 99% from.
> > It is a ballpark estimate.
> You mean a wild guess, based on nothing at all?

Lol. Alan, do u really live in a cave or what?

I've always found emacs developers or lisp coders to be weird cave
dwellers who bury their head in their perspective tech and have little
understanding of software industry and professional programers.

I started using emacs daily since 1998. I only started learning elisp
in 2006. I have actually actively resisted in learning elisp, because
of fear of falling into a blackhole of code diddling of little
significance. Too bad, i have now since fallen into this hole. After
all, i haven't had a day job since about 2004.

it's quite bizzar when you hear some of the lispers. When's the last
time you saw the sun, Alan?

> > Sad to say, but my experiences tells me that tech geekers (you being
> > one good example), .....
> Hey, thanks!
> > lack any basic knowledge of social things that are generally classified
> > under social science.
> You might be surprised.
> > To answer your question or help you think more specifically, you can
> > actually try to spend 1 hour thinking about this specific issue. Start
> > with, for example, how many people in the world actually code elisp.
> > What's the percentage with respect to programers. What's the percentage
> > with respect to all IT professionals. (look up definition or ask a
> > professor in social science department on what is meant by ???IT
> > professional???) Also, think about what emacs is supposed to be, and
> > think about its relation to writers. Think about how many writers are
> > there in the world, what's their percentage with respect to, say,
> > programers.
> Emacs is intended for programmers, though it's great that other sorts of
> writers find it useful too.

That sentiment is rather silly to meaningless.

Sometimes in other context, you see emacs fanatics insist that emacs
is the best tool for non-programing text editing, period. In fact, you
see a few heads popping up here now and then saying how great they
love emacs and they are not programers but writers.

In other times, like now, you see emacs hotheads insists that emacs is
more for programers and programers primarily, to the degree that if
they don't know much about program, perhaps they should goto Microsoft
Word, and about how emacs “should not dumb down for these people”.

Execuse my French, but when i discusses these issues, it gets me angry
over the degree of their FANTASTICAL STUPIDITY.

So Alan, what does it really mean, to say that “Emacs is intended for
programmers, though it's great that other sorts of writers find it
useful too.”? What does it signify? Does it imply anything? Does it
actually mean anything other than a sentimental catch phrase to
express certain love of emacs??

actually.... i do know exactly what's on your mind. I can write say a
2 thousand words article on emacs that is 100% of how you feel, how
you see things, what you know about it. Cause i understand tech
geekers far too well.

> > Perhaps the concept of thinking for one hour on academic subject is
> > something you've never done.
> Hahahaha!  That's so funny it's not even an insult.
> > > Even when it [the *scratch* buffer] is not used, it's not that big a
> > > nuisance.
> > To you, a emacs tech geeker, doesn't seems a nuisance. To your grandma,
> > or even most professional, or another tech geeker of the vi faction, it
> > stops them using emacs.
> In the places I've worked, lots of people have asked me for help on their
> Emacsen, but the question of getting rid of *scratch* hasn't come up even
> once.  How many people have you met in real life who've asked you to do
> that?  Xah, it really isn't a big deal.

most people simply stopped using emacs. See:

Text Editors Popularity

plain text version follows:

∑ Back to Emacs Tutorial.
Text Editors Popularity

Xah Lee, 2007-08

This page shows the popularity of programer's text editors and IDEs.
The following lists them in order of popularity as of 2007-08.

   1. (Microsoft Word↗)
   2. Microsoft Visual Studio↗
   3. emacs↗, Vim↗
   4. Notepad++↗
   5. Xcode↗
   6. Textmate↗
   7. Eclipse IDE↗
   8. (Wordpad↗)
   9. JEdit↗
  10. BBEdit↗, Notepad2↗
  11. NEdit↗
  12. (TextEdit↗)

The ranking is based on Google Trends↗. This is not be a very accurate
measurement of user base, but gives a rough indication.

Those in parenthesis are text editors not used for programing, but
included here just to give a context, and a sense of the relative
ranking by Google Trend.

Ideally, i'd like to list all programer's text editors and IDEs, by
the number of users. (and limiting the entries to 10 or so)
Preferably, also show the data by a graph so that we can see the
relative gap between ajacent entries. (for example, when shown as a
pie chart, Microsoft Word and Visual Studio together might be 90%,
while all the rest is just 10%)

I haven't done much research on what IDEs are common on the Windows
platform. (Never developed for MS technologies) So if you work in the
Windows platform and knew some of the commonly used IDEs or editors,
please let me know.

Among the above list, some editor should be there but for one reason
or another i wasn't able to use Google Trends to get some sensible
statistics are: Microsoft Notepad↗, Programmer's Notepad↗, Borland
Delphi↗, Kate (text editor)↗, GEdit, roughly same popularity as Nedit
according to google trends, but it doesn't have Wikipedia entry!

Also note: Google trends has records back to about 2004. This
conveniently marks the beginning year to be considered on this list.
Personally, i've been using Mac in about 1991. Many IDEs on the mac
has come and gone. From roughly 1990 to 2002, the following are the
major editor/platform used on the Mac, each basically replaced the
previous one chronologically: Macintosh Programmer's Workshop↗, THINK
C↗, CodeWarrior↗, SimpleText↗. But since the arrival of OS X,
CodeWarrior and SimpleText went extinct primarily due to the platform
change and arrival of XCode and TextEdit. Also, BBEdit is widely
popular throughout the 1990s, but its user base gradually declined
with the arrival of OS X↗ in 2001.
Who Cares?

We all have heard “vi vs emacs” a million times, and have participated
in brawls and polls about which editors are the best. Although, these
are almost always carried out in a facetious fashion among tech
people, without any hint about the social importance of these kind of

Statistics such as market share, is broadly speaking part of the info
and activity of demographics and market research. Such information is
very important in decision making, and corporations will often spend
tens of thousand dollars to research or buy the info. (there are a
entire market of business dedicated to market research) For example, a
corporation will need to know its market share to make decisions on
marketing budget, development budget, pricing decision, corporate
buyout negotiation, down to the technical details of a feature design.
Good and bad directional decisions can mean success and extinction.
(For more on this, see Wikipedia Market research↗. )

Non-commercial software such as emacs, isn't dependent on paying
customers nor driven by financial investors, so many market questions
are moot. (since in a sense nobody really could care if a particular
free software went exinct for lack of users, and thousands of
OpenSource or FreeSoftware big and small come and went all the time
without a beep.) However, getting users and getting info about users
is still a important aspect in understanding and for improving our
software, because we like emacs and want our time investment into it
survive. (put it in another way, we don't want to have to be forced to
switch to vi due to emacs dilapidation and oblivion.)

In our OpenSource or Freedom software world, competition such as emacs
vs xemacs vs vi, or GNOME vs KDE, etc, isn't about cutting-throat or
bankruptcy or loosing our daily bread and butter, but it is still a
valid competition, similar to sports and games.

As a example of importance of the info about market share of editors,
consider emacs advocates and Free Software Foundation (emacs
developers), in their consideration of modernization of Emacs. If
emacs is used by majority of professional programers (defined as those
who makes a living primarily by coding), then perhaps it is not so
important to changes emacs to conform to modern UI. But if data
indicates that, say, the combined users emacs and vi is less than 10%
of the programing population, then the modernization of emacs issue
warrants much more weight.


little usability issues addds up. You say *scratch* is little problem,
but then emacs uses non-standard terminology (buffer, yank, kill-ring-
save, window/frame, ... etc), non-standard UI (minibuffer instead of
popup dialog...etc), non-standard keyboard shortcuts, and etc etc too
many to list. You basically end up with a system that is just too
foreign, and difficult to learn is one primary complaint of emacs.

there are many reasons why emacs is the way it is, and many reasons
that many emacs ways are superior and operatively more efficient. We
need to exam on the whole, all thing considered, and improve those
problematic or of little utility and or a simple solution that can

I think my criticism and proposed fix on the *scratch* buffer problem
is quite simple and effective...

on hindsight of this thread of all things already been said ...
perhaps give it another scan?

> [ .... ]
> > > Have you considered coding an option so that this buffer would only
> > > be created when, at startup time, there was no other buffer?  And
> > > coding another option so that when you killed it, it would stay
> > > killed?  Write a patch, and submit it to address@hidden  It
> > > might well be accepted for Emacs 23.
> > Please understand, the issue is not:
> > (1) whether i should write a patch,
> > (2) nor is it about writing a patch that do something you think is
> > better.
> No, it's about writing a patch for something _you_ want.

in commercial software, it's not about something you want. It's about
what makes money, and that is determined by how people actually want
to pull money out of their pocket. In order to achieve that, is about
what's really best, that people want.

Successful software corps, such as Apple, Microsoft, IBM, google, etc
roughly did that. You don't become successful by breaking the law as
most tech geekers likes to think of Microsoft.

In Open Source software, it's largly driven by the need of a few
coders. Emacs came to be largely because that's what Richard Stallman
needs in the 1980s. He has ceased being a coder who actively work in
the industry since maybe 1990s. ...

... am not going to write another thousands word article and surely
followed by wild discussion on this ... maybe you see some of my

> > To illustrate (1), for example, suppose you say that fucking in the
> > ass is not moral and government should ban it. Then someone says why
> > don't you stop fucking in the ass yourself.
> > To illustrate (2), suppose you say that fucking in the ass should be
> > better done with lubes first. Then someone says why don't you try to
> > fuck in the ass with butter.
> Er, somebody elsewhere in the thread said the issue wasn't fucking, so in
> deference to him, I won't answer this bit.
> > > [ .... ]
> > > > Proposed Fix
> > > > I propose that emacs should also add a menu command ?New buffer?,
> > > > with the keyboard shortcut ?Ctrl+n?. Once called, it should create
> > > > a scratch buffer titled ?untitled?. If one already exists, append
> > > > numbers such ?untitled 2?. Here are the reasons:
> > Yes, thanks. Yesterday, i have done more polishing on the article
> > (
> I've had a wee look at it.  You have at least one thing there which is
> false, namely "Emacs does not provide a user level function to create a
> new buffer".  There is C-x b.  You then go on to complain about having to
> give a definite file name when you do C-x C-f to create a new file.  It
> seems to me that between these two commands you can get what you want
> here.

I have given reasons why C-x b is unfit for creating a temp buffer. To
begin, the name is switch-to-buffer. Also, emacs doesnt offer to save
a buffer not associated with file, so you have potential data lose...
I also give reason why C-x C-f is unfit, because it prompt for a file
name... in fact i listed these two ways in my article originally.
Given my article, i do not see any new point or argument against what
i said already.

Please, do read my article with a open mind. I am effectively
repeating my article for each reply in this now 50 messages thread.

> > > > * The Ctrl+n shortcut for New is standard and familiar to all
> > > > software users.
> > > That's not true.  It's not familiar to me.
> > You are not a typical software user. You are a tech geek.
> I am a software user.  "All" means all without exception.  What you wrote
> has been refuted by counterexample.  (Guess what I subject I graduated
> in!)  Take it as a free lesson in English.  ;-)

it would be ridiculous to say that you are not familiar with Ctrl+n.
Try to put that on your resume. Like this: “I, Alan, although am a
tech geek, but i don't know what Ctrl+n” is in today's software.
Please do hire me though.”

LOL. How silly can tech geekers get? Really? How utterly bizarre and
silly can they get? Alan, you “are not familiar with Ctrl+n” eh?

> > > > * By adopting the New Buffer and Ctrl+n, users can intuitively
> > > > create multiple scratch buffers for any purpose.
> > > Being able to create several *scratch*'es might well be useful.
> > Yes. Thank you.
> Taking another look at my .emacs, I see I've got M-n bound for this:
>     (define-key lisp-interaction-mode-map "\M-n" 'clone-buffer)
> This is easy enough, apart from discovering that it's possible.

huh? are you saying that clone-buffer is a good way to create a new

> > > >    * The name ?untitled? is conventional, far more widely understood,
> > > > and more general than ?scratch?.
> > > A mere unimportant trifle.
> > it's not umimportant trifle. Familiarity is important aspect of
> > software usability.
> OK, let me put it this way.  Of all the things which an Emacs newbie will
> find unfamiliar, this is amongst the least important.

As i mentioned, little oddities here and there adds up. See above.

> But "familiarity is [an] important aspect of ... usability".  This is
> confused thinking.  Merely by using software, any software, you will
> become familiar with it.  This has no bearing on how usable the software
> is.  Emacs is supremely easy to use, and some programs (several popular
> Microsoft programs, for example) remain ghastly to use, no matter how
> familiar with them you become.

Sorry if i sound rude, but what you said, your attitude, your
sentiment, your feelings about software user interface, typical of
tech geekers, are the most motherfucking, baseless, stupid.
Fantastically stupid. Moronic. Flat earth.

Step outside of your cave. Go ask a librarian, or someone in Apple or
Microsoft who works or research on UI, or even try to consult academic

> > > >    * For those who uses scratch buffer for elisp coding, she can set
> > > > the default mode for untitled buffer to emacs lisp mode.
> > > Or, more precisely, Lisp Interaction Mode.
> > you are right. Thanks for correction.
> > > But this option exists
> > > already: `initial-major-mode'.
> > Yes, but what's your point?
> You seemed to be arguing for a feature which already exists, suggesting
> you were unaware of it.  I was making sure you found out about it.
> > Thanks for your feedback.
> No problem!
> > You suggested few times about how i should code elisp in some way and
> > submit the patch. Perhaps, let me suggest to you, that you should try
> > to take what code i have, polish it, and start a discussion in emacs
> > dev lisp, and send the patch into GNU emacs.
> OK, just stop right there.  That's just not the way Emacs develpment
> works.  If you want to promote a new feature, you have to do the work
> yourself.  Even on the developers' mailing list, if you put an idea
> forward, no matter who you are, nobody else is going to take it up and do
> the work for you.  You might ask people to criticise the idea in advance
> (like you are doing at the moment) and incorporate their ideas.  You then
> implement the idea as a patch, and then ask people to try it out.  Then
> the real criticism starts.  And that criticism can be robust indeed.

... here we venture into the problem of Open Source... see above i
already give some pointers on the issue. In commercial softs, you have
a goal, and how your app will be are based on facts and professional
experts works on it with their daily bread at stake. In Open Source,
joe moron has the final word, or else, start your own!

It is not a wonder, most Open Source software for the desktop users
don't have any foothold on the market, even though $free$ as cig given
to children.

This does not mean open source softs has to be stupid. Little
thinking, little suggestion, and a whole lot of copying of commercial
apps helps (such as linuxes copying almost entire Microsoft Window
UI). Emacs copied a whole lot from the commercial Xemacs (Lucid Emacs)
from about 1990 to 2004. Open source softs do improve slowly (e.g. CUA

you want emacs to improve? think more, and get away from tech geeker
mindset. Go to college and study more about humanities. Your thoughts
on software will improve far more than decades of tech geeking and

> I'm afraid I won't be helping you with your code.  I don't agree that
> your suggestions are good ones.  Even if I did, I still wouldn't be
> offering the help you want, because I've got too many things of my own to
> do.  However, even though I don't like your changes, I do support your
> right to promote them.
> A small tip: using swear words doesn't help you get your message across.
> It really doesn't.

That depends. In fact, a lot people swore or worse, and they made a
change... e.g. recently i learned of:

... and see also

... we could go on and discuss the history of swearing and impact on
society, or exam the world's culture and attitude about swearing, or
the psychology of swearing, swearing in modern society, the history of
swearing tolerance ... i think we'd have a ball.

also note, swearing is sometimes the most effective way of expression.
For example, if someone bugs you and you just burst out “fuck off”,
that says a lot, and would avoid potential damage to all parties ...

and, of course, if your aspiration is to be a political leader, than
swearing in public is often bad ... in some sense, it is about a
image, a diplomacy, or in some tech geeker way of thinking, it's about
lying and smiling.


Ok, quickly typed out n no time to edit.


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