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Re: Failing to see the allure of Emacs

From: Joel J. Adamson
Subject: Re: Failing to see the allure of Emacs
Date: Wed, 05 May 2010 13:27:35 -0400

Sorry I'm coming into the game so late, I think my university has been
withholding mail from this list.  I have a few points to add to the
discussion. <> wrote:

> I can read source code and I do; but there's a lot of source code, and
> most of it is unrewarding reading.  I can use info, but I don't like
> it.  Please don't tell me "use info", because info is designed and
> intended not for reading, but for brief, casual online reference, and
> that is its cognitive organization.  

Those ("brief, casual online reference") are called man pages.  An info
manual is actually a printed book, laid out for reading *the whole
thing*.  It is, in many ways, the opposite of a man page.  Take any GNU
Manual and read it from the introduction and you'll notice that it
starts with concepts first.  There are very clear standards about how to
write these manuals[1].  And whenever I take the time to read one from
the beginning it pays off hugely.  Then when people say "How do you know
how to do that?" I say "I read the manual."

Also, if you really want to figure out how to work in Emacs, you can go
get a book about it[2].

If you don't "get" Emacs, that's fine.  Go back to using Eclipse or
BBedit or whatever you like[3].  I think the reason people like me like
Emacs is because it is in line with their way of thinking.  One that
includes always learning as much as you can.

Another thing to note is that when I first loaded Emacs (on Windows) I
didn't "get it" either.  But after I read the tutorial and worked with
it a little bit, I knew that it was The Right Thing.  Mainly because I
already had experience with Unix and remembered a time when I might have
used Emacs ten years previously (i.e. the commands were familiar).

Also, you don't have to do everything in Emacs.  I just happen to use
mainly Emacs and Firefox, because my work consists mostly of coding,
email and looking things up on the web.  I can accomplish most of that
just using Emacs.  If your work is different, then that's your life and
no one should tell you to "just get it."[4]

My last comment is that you mentioned "going back to GUI."  Are you
using a version of Emacs that doesn't have a GUI?  If you are, you're
missing a HUGE advantage of Emacs.  For one the menus have the
key bindings printed on the far right.  For another, using Emacs with the
mouse is much more pleasurable and productive than using many other
(supposedly GUI-oriented) programs.  You can do things with the mouse in
Emacs that you just can't do in other programs[5].  I noticed you're
using Windows, so try using Emacs on a Unix-like system and you'll
notice the difference.  Copying and pasting with the mouse is way
easier; you can drag text from other applications and drop it into
Emacs; you can navigate tags and do lots of other things with Speedbar.
The only thing missing is dragging and dropping text in Emacs, but I
don't really miss it.

Emacs has an excellent GUI.




[3] I won't make the suggestion that you go back to vi; I can't wish
that on another person without it weighing heavily on my conscience

[4]  On the other hand, you'd be surprised how much work you actually
can get done this way ;)

[5] Show me the command for deleting a whole line with a single
double-click in Microsoft Word.  Then show me how to go back three
occurrences of the word "word" in fewer than six keystrokes (without
typing the word itself).  Word!

Joel J. Adamson
Servedio Lab
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

FSF Member #8164

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