2009-02-09

modernization of emacs

On Feb 3, 10:33 am, namekuseijin wrote:
> Well, good luck with that. Though I believe you're fighting windmills...
>
> Xah Lee escreveu:
>
> > http://code.google.com/p/emacs2010/
> > The goal is to have a downloadable binary for Windows, Mac (and
> > possibly Linux too later).


> > • *Goal*: Average programer download emacs, use it, happy. They don't
> > have to suffer some “emacs way”. Emacs's power, is *fully* retained,
> > however.
>
> That is something to be seen.

It already happened in a verifiable way: AquaEmacs. The “problem” with AquaEmacs is that it's for Mac only, and Mac is only ~5% of personal computers. AquaEmacs has become a success in mere a couple of years, significant number of emacs users on the mac, uses AquaEmacs, if not majority. If not for AquaEmacs, majority of these people would never use emacs.

about 20 years ago, this also happened, with Lucid Emacs (aka Xemacs). It almost killed GNU emacs, and it kick started GNU Emacs from dozzing, and took GNU emacs about 15 years to catch up. (note: Lucid Emacs is made by a commercial org during lisp era, with several programers working on it full time for a number of years. Its change and impact to emacs is a magnitude more than AquaEmacs. (AquaEmacs mostly just changed some UI by patching a layer of elisp, and bundling some elisp package in the wild. Xemacs had great focus on UI and usability, but also made major improvement to elisp core... it is politics that made Richard Stallman not to adopt or accept its elisp changes, and rolled its own that took 5 or so years))

For some side history of lucid emacs, see the book:

• Book Review: Patterns of Software
http://xahlee.org/PageTwo_dir/Personal_dir/bookReviewRichardGabriel.html

----------------

I made some addition near the bottom about existing similar projects, here:
http://code.google.com/p/emacs2010/wiki/DeveloperIntro

here's the excerpt:
-----------------------
About half of these ideas are officially communicated to gnu emacs's dev thru emacs bug report system, in 2007, 2008. Almost all are either placed on wish list, or dismissed as unimportant or unnecessary. Some emacs 23 changes, such as moving up/down by visual line, and transient-mark-mode on by default, might be influence by some of the essay linked here. But overall, for many reasons good or bad, the above ideas are likely to be slow in showing up in GNU Emacs.

If you think these are good ideas, either send in a “bug” report to FSF in emacs thru the menu “Help ‣ Send Bug Report...”, or help contribute here.

There are a number of existing similar projects.

• AquaEmacs is fantastic. However, it runs on Mac only, and some of its Apple GUI behavior is not suitable for emacs. e.g. popping up dialog boxes when user tries to open a file. Opening every file in its own window (i.e. emacs's “frame”), launching Apple's Helper App when pulling some help menu item. In the end, if you have used emacs in a text terminal, AquaEmacs's ways can't be applicable.

• EmacsW32 is Emacs for Windows. It is great, but there are 2 major problems: (1): the project is thought of as a emacs patch. So, users doesn't just go there to download and run out of box. But has to read a bunch of philosophy, how to install the patch, extra bundle, stuff. Basically, you must already have spent perhaps months to become a emacs insider to be able to find or use EmacsW32 much as a choice. (2): The Alt key pops up the Window's menu. This is how app behaves in MS Windows. This is great for Windows compatibility just as AquaEmacs is great for Mac compatibility, but this operation is incompatible with emacs's ways, where Meta is heavily used thus convenient to be at the location of Alt key.

• Easymacs. This project is similar here, but Easymacs is again a bunch of patchs, with complex info about how to install, philosophy, manifesto, FAQ. This project seems also to be not maintained.

None of the above projects attempts to fix the emacs's keybinding problem. (they assume either people are happ with the arrow keys or Ctrl+arrow in most editors, or adopt the emacs bad keybinding) None attepms to fix emacs's old terminology problem (AquaEmacs tries, by writing its own Mac style docs launched in Apple's Help Application, which function as layer that relies on top of GNU Emacs manual.)

One most critical aspect of ease of use is a brainless downloadable binary. This is done for essentially EVERY major software (think of all major browsers, every software released by Apple, every software released by Microsoft, every gaming software, and every software released for windows.) However, emacs, much with its unix history, has the mentality that user is to compile the software himself. Downloadable binary is maybe available for 1% of time, and when available, often outdated or crash. The only exception to this, is the Mac version of emacs (Carbon emacs and AquaEmacs), which is that way due to the Mac culture. However, they only run on Mac. Some 95% of computer users can't use emacs. (because Windows has ~95% market share).
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For some notes about Xemacs, see:

• My Experience of Emacs vs XEmacs
http://xahlee.org/emacs/emacs_vs_xemacs.html

Xah
∑ http://xahlee.org/



http://groups.google.com/group/comp.emacs/browse_frm/thread/0af2075055182d99

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