The Modernization of Emacs: terminology buffer and keybinding

Kaldrenon kaldrenon at
Thu Jun 21 22:10:18 CEST 2007

Feel free to disagree with what I'm about to say. I know that this
thread would be far, FAR shorter if OP hadn't been instigating
disagreement, but so far most of the discourse has been polite, so I'm
going to say what I'm thinking.

I think there are far too many people in all camps (the Emacs camp,
the vi* camp, and the GUI/IDE/point-and-click-and-make-
everything-"user-friendly" camp) who look at this disagreement as a
debate in which they Are Right, and the members of the other two camps
Are Wrong. There are billions of people in this world, and even if you
ignore the ones who don't need to use a text editor or word processor
on a regular basis, you end up with a VERY large number of people. And
people are different. We think differently, we all have different
things that come to us naturally, different things that are tricky but
learn-able, and different things that we'll never be able to do
without a manual open in front of us.

There are a lot of people for whom emacs is easy to learn, logical to
use, and the way it is set up (or at least the way -they- set it up)
is so natural to them that they'll never be as productive anywhere
else. But there are also a lot of people for whom emacs doesn't click,
who can give it a genuine try but still not catch on, and even once
they learn enough to muddle through, they'll always work better in
Word, or in an IDE.

But I think there's something else to it, and it's part of why I think
the emacs faithful swear by it so fiercely, even if it does seem a
daunting tool to master.

I don't think anyone can make the argument that any (past or current)
graphics-based editor is as efficient when being used to its fullest
as a text-based editor. It's basic math - it takes measurably more
time to move a hand to the mouse, move/click the mouse, and more the
hand back to the touch-typing position than it does to execute even a
moderately complex series of keystrokes. Maybe not large amounts of
time -per action-, but it doesn't take too long for it to add up if
you spend a lot of time editing.

Contrast the time saved by not having to reposition one's hands, the
extensibility, and customization against the learning curve of an
interface that doesn't exactly throw its controls at the user, and
here's the conclusion I think results: graphical interfaces are -
easier- to develop some proficiency with, but proficiency with emacs
pays of far more in the long run.

And if you disagree with me, or if you think I expressed my point
poorly (I'm good that that), all you need to do is ask Steve Yegge his
thoughts on emacs.


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