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Re: RFC: Flavors - naming significant sets of customizations

From: Jambunathan K
Subject: Re: RFC: Flavors - naming significant sets of customizations
Date: Sat, 30 Nov 2013 12:26:33 +0530
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/24.3.50 (gnu/linux)

Jambunathan K <> writes:

> Story of Orgmode
> ===============

Story of Elisp manual

Another interesting story is that of the Elisp manual.  It was initially
the work NOT of Richard but couple of students.

The students packed enough punch in to their original work that it was
bundled with Emacs and to this day the manual continues improving.

1. Pack enough punch, when starting out.
2. Keep a gentle pressure, as the time progresses.

(1) and (2) are in no specfic order.


Here it is:


Mailing list: comp.lang.lisp
Poster: "Xah Lee"
Date: 20/06/2008
Post titled: history of the GNU Emacs Lisp Reference Manual

The above URL will die in another 5 or 10 years.  I am unable to locate
text archives.  Here is the relevant text.  Start from end of buffer.

Xah Lee writes:

does anyone know the history about who are the main persons that wrote
the GNU Emacs Lisp Reference Manual?

According to the manual itself:


«This manual was written by Robert Krawitz, Bil Lewis, Dan LaLiberte,
Richard M. Stallman and Chris Welty, the volunteers of the GNU manual
group, in an effort extending over several years. Robert J. Chassell
helped to review and edit the manual, with the support of the Defense
Advanced Research Projects Agency, ARPA Order 6082, arranged by Warren
A. Hunt, Jr. of Computational Logic, Inc.»

So, the first author listed are Robert Krawitz and others. Richard
Stallman didn't come until after 3 names.

Does anyone have some history or reference as to how the manual came
together or better picture of who are the main authors?

By publishing convention, if i were just to write “written by xyz et
al.”, that would be Robert Krawitz. But as far as i know the first few
persons listed are little known... anyone got detail?

Tim Bradshaw writes:

I suspect that the acknowledgements are correct.  For a long time there
was no elisp reference manual at all - there was an emacs manual and
there were docstrings but that was it.  Certainly this was true in the
Emacs 17 timeframe.  I have some vague memory that there was a period
when there was an elisp manual you could get from some different source
than emacs, written by, I suppose, these people, but then it got merged.


John Thingstad writes:

>From emacs 18 on at least there was a elisp manual. But you had to
download it seperatly.  (I only started with emacs in 1987)

Bob Knighten writes:
Even though I get acknowledged in the manual, my contribution was 20
years ago and my memory is fading.  But there is a little bit of
information at which says:
"Thanks to Dan LaLiberte for spearheading the GNU Emacs Lisp Programmers
Manual, and to Bill Lewis and Tom Scott who have been working on putting
it all together."

You can read a little bit about Dan LaLiberte's contribution (as a
graduate student at University of Illinois - Urbana Champagne) at his
web page: and I expect he will be
happy to tell you more.

I remember exchanging e-mail with him and also recall Bil Lewis
( being involved, but I don't
recall Tom Scott and notice that his name disappeared by the time the
manual was actually published.  I think that Krawitz and Welty are
relatively recent additions to the team and that neither LaLiberte nor
Lewis are currently active.  My recollection was that as on pretty much
all parts of GNU Emacs Stallman's role on the Emacs Lisp manual was as
original creator, godfather and critic of all things Emacs.

Xah Lee writes:

I've added few more links i found to home pages of some of the other
major contributors.


Daniel LaLiberte writes:

Thanks to Dan Weinreb for pointing me at this recent exchange.   You
guys have done a fine job of digging up this ancient history, but I am
glad to offer any more tidbits I can recall.

Starting with Emacs 17, and transitioning to Emacs 18, I was trying to
develop a rather substantial extension and I was forced to learn what I
could from the very limited doc strings, and the source itself.  I
started putting together a document for my own use of all the functions,
variables, etc, and at some point started sharing this with others.  I
didn't think I had time to really finish this documentation, but I
recall announcing my offer to coordinate the efforts of others if they
would help out.

With a group of about a dozen volunteers, we hobbled along for a year or
so, and then we learned that Bil Lewis had offered to write up a first
draft of the entire manual, which he then did in cooperation with our
group.  I received his work as it was being written and edited it,
reorganizing the material substantially over the next year or two.  My
graduate research work was delayed as a result, but I was having fun,
getting into it and receiving the reward of compliments from grateful
readers.  I'd have to say that most of the first year of work was
overwritten a couple times by this process, so we probably dropped some
of the minor acknowledgments as well.

Although I had a major hand in every chapter, the one on the Edebug
source-level debugger was all mine, of course, since I had written the
software.  Having mastered everything about the language and
environment, it became obvious to me in a flash how to build Edebug, and
the first version was hacked out in a couple weeks.  This little
diversion turned into a major project, and a new subject for my masters

Shortly before Emacs 19 started to come out, I was finishing up the
indexing (including a very useful permuted index) and we were "done" and
then RMS wanted to take control.  After a few more months of his
reediting, cleaning up all my rampant use of passive voice and such, it
was published in a two-volume book.  Later editions by RMS and others
incorporated the Emacs 19 features.  I got back into my research and
lost touch.

Since the web grabbed my attention around 1994, I haven't done much of
anything with Emacs, except I continue to be a reluctant user, stuck
with emacs bindings to my brain, frustrated by its archaic UI as the
world moves on.  Now JavaScript is my favorite language, and the web
browser would be the environment in which one might do everything,
except we are not quite there yet.


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