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Re: Transient Mark Mode on by default

From: Alan Mackenzie
Subject: Re: Transient Mark Mode on by default
Date: Mon, 24 Mar 2008 11:55:10 +0000
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.9i

Hi, Yidong and Emacs!

On Sun, Mar 23, 2008 at 07:00:10PM -0400, Chong Yidong wrote:
> Thanks for all those who contributed to the recent discussion on the
> list.  I've discussed this some more with Stefan, and the result is
> that Transient Mark Mode is now turned on by default, in the trunk.

I feel I must protest here as strongly as I can.  Unless I've missed
something (not unlikely, given the volume and heat of recent posts on the
topic) this change has NOT been discussed properly, and a consensus has
NOT been reached on it.

The recent discussions have been almost entirely about the mechanisms and
the practicalities of Transient Mark Mode, about key sequences, about
which of several variations is better.  NOT about whether it is a Good
Thing as a default.  I feel that this change, making Transient Mark Mode
on by default, is being slipped through almost surreptitiously, at a time
when we're too weary (from the recent discussions) to object.

I say, yet again, Transient Mark Mode is NOT a good default.  It violates
the philosophy of Emacs in several ways:
(i) It's very complicated, certainly when compared with the elegant
  simplicity of the classical Emacs mark.
(ii) It introduces "modal" behaviour (as in vi's insert/command mode)
  into Emacs - many commands behave differently when the mark is active.
(iii) It's obtrusive; it's "in your face"; it will provoke the angry
  reaction "how do I get rid of this address@hidden thing!!!!!".

Objectively, the mode is inferior to the traditional Emacs mark mechanism
(although I admit "objective" is less important than "subjective" here).

There have been few people indeed who have posted "I think transient mark
mode, as it now is, should be made the default in Emacs".  Dan has,
Stefan has.  Anybody else?  I have opined strongly that Transient Mark
Mode should NOT become default, and I think David Kastrup may have done
the same.  Of "ousiders", Evans Winner says TMM should be off by default,
Jason Earl says it should be on.

I think the vast majority of Emacs hackers have failed to state a firm
position on this, which for such a fundamental change is surely a bad
thing.  May I suggest that you hold a poll of people's views?  And that
if there isn't overwhelming support (whatever that might mean) for this
change of default, that it be reversed?

Alan Mackenzie (Nuremberg, Germany).

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