The Modernization of Emacs: terminology buffer and keybinding

Robert Uhl eadmund42 at
Mon Jun 25 01:19:10 CEST 2007

Twisted <twisted0n3 at> writes:
> Of course, if emacs let you keep THREE windows open and visible at the
> same time, instead of being limited to one or a horizontally split two
> ... and a cramped 80x10 or so each, at that ...

I have two frames open right now: one 80x70, the other around 180x70
(characters, not pixels).  One isn't split at all; the other is split
into four windows, horizontally and vertically.

> I'll admit that it didn't USED TO 'eschew normal methods of
> navigation', but at a certain point in time there began to be 'normal
> methods of navigation' and emacs naturally began eschewing them
> promptly and has done so ever since.

emacs has continued doing its own thing, mostly because that thing is
better.  The CUA standards (there exists an emacs package if you really
want them) are broken and lame--I and most other don't wish to cripple
our text editor of choice.

> If I haven't, it must be the case that finding this tutorial (or even
> discovering that it exists) was nontrivial, or it wasn't built into
> emacs, one or the other.

When you start emacs in a text console, you see this:

  Welcome to GNU Emacs, one component of the GNU/Linux operating system.
  Type C-l to begin editing.
  Get help           C-h  (Hold down CTRL and press h)
  Emacs manual       C-h r
  Emacs tutorial     C-h t           Undo changes     C-x u
  Buy manuals        C-h C-m         Exit Emacs       C-x C-c
  Browse manuals     C-h i
  Activate menubar   F10  or  ESC `  or   M-`
  (`C-' means use the CTRL key.  `M-' means use the Meta (or Alt) key.
  If you have no Meta key, you may instead type ESC followed by the character.)

A GUI window shows a similar message.  Note the 'Emacs tutorial' entry?
Or you could just go to the Help menu, then select 'Emacs Tutorial.'

>> If I'm browsing the manual online, I can switch from said manual to
>> my document buffer without making the manual scroll to the
>> documentation for switch-to-buffer.
> Apparently because you find the switch second nature, despite its not
> being the obvious (which is ctrl-tab, to switch between documents in
> an MDI app).

Clicking within the document's window isn't obvious?!?

> * OK, time to resort to *gulp* the help.
> * Oh, great, now what did it do? I hit F1 and ...
> * Eh. Try random stuff. Help starts with h. Alt-h? Ctrl-h? ...
> * Oh, right. I seem to remember the help popping up unwanted when I
> tried to backspace over a typo earlier, so I'll just do that.

Ha! f1 and C-h do the exact same thing.  You've obviously not used emacs
this millennium.

> WHAT menu bar? We're discussing emacs. As in, a text-mode editor. As
> in a cramped little 80x24 grid of letters, numbers, spaces, and
> punctuation with no menus, no concept of a pointing device, and a bad
> attitude.

No, we're discussing emacs, a text editor which runs in both a GUI and a
text console.  Which can display images.  It's cool like that.

> At least Windows 3.1 had most apps have the same keys for the vast
> majority of commands, and those were the right keys. Emacs has all the
> applications have the vast majority of their commands use the same
> WRONG keys.

Neither is right nor wrong; you're just used to one.  The emacs keys are
certainly more flexible and powerful, though.  Some might consider them
right for that reason.

>> Wouldn't it be cool not to have one program implement search in one
>> way, and another a second way, and yet another a third?  Wouldn't it
>> be cool to have access to a proper text editor when editing text on a
>> web page?
> Search is usually ctrl+f, type something, hit enter in my experience.

Unless you want regexp search.  And if you want to find again it can be
interesting.  And maybe the program defaults to case-sensitive or
case-insensitive search...

> And I can use any text editor I want to edit HTML.

You could use Notepad no doubt; you could also use a Turing machine.  I
prefer to use a useful tool.

>> Do you realise that emacs has a GUI these days?  I'm writing this in a
>> 70-line window, with gtk+ widgets.  Which means full-resolution,
>> full-colour.
> What are you talking about? Clearly not emacs, which is a console app
> for unix systems (with the inevitable MS-DOS ports and others).

No, as I've said over and over and over again, emacs is not what you
think it is.  It has a GUI; it has colours; it can display images; it
can use the native widget set.  It can even be configured to use native
keybindings, although that way lies madness.

> Some sort of bastardized Windows port I suppose?

Hah!  Dude, I don't use Windows--I've better things to do with my life.

Robert Uhl <>
With weapons, we are citizens.  Without them, we are subjects.

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