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Re: Is Emacs on Aqua crippleware or is it just broken?

From: Benjamin Riefenstahl
Subject: Re: Is Emacs on Aqua crippleware or is it just broken?
Date: 05 May 2003 12:45:24 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.09 (Gnus v5.9.0) Emacs/21.2

Hi bk,

address@hidden (BK) writes:
> I tried several builds of Aqua versions of Emacs on OSX and all of
> them exhibit severe symptoms of crippleware.

I understand "crippleware" as an insult without any meaning when
applied to Emacs, but you hopefully didn't mean it that way.  Emacs is
a volunteer's effort, so it does exactly what *you* program for it or
have somebody else program for it.  Anything else is a free gift that
we all can only appreciate.  Note that I am only a user of the
program, too.

A lot of the Emacs users are people that are very glad that Emacs
works the same as they are used to on Unix, Linux or even Windows, so
they are not only willing to compromise with MacOSX guidelines, they
even demand that Emacs does that.  Not to mention that a lot of them
prefer an Emacs in any usable state instead of not having their
favorite tool at all (that would be me e.g.).

OTOH if you really don't like it and don't want or can't spend the
time to work it out, you are free, go ahead, get something else, there
are a number of capable editors for MacOSX around, free and

> Unfortunately, it doesn't work with Emacs, or so it would seem. Bug
> or feature?

I read that as, you are not even sure that you have read and applied
all the relevant documentation, FAQs etc.  In that case it would be a
good idea to ask nicely how it's supposed to work, before even using
the word "bug".

As for your individual questions, please take all my remarks as just
my personal optinions, I don't speak for anybody but myself here.

> 1) No Drag and Drop - files
> On a Mac you can just drag a file icon with the mouse onto an
> application icon and the application will open the file.

That's not the way Emacs works usually, although it may be a good idea
to implement it on MacOSX anyway.  The usual way is to have a separate
small command-line application "emacsclient" that talks to a server
stub that is started in Emacs.  It would probably not be to difficult
to add an AppleEvent interface to that for use by the Finder and other
applications and maybe that would be enough so it would work.  Or
something like that may even already exist, I haven't actually

Another thought (I haven't tried this).  It may be possible to create
an emacsclient.command script as a front for emacsclient that you can
put on your desktop and on which you can drop files.

Remember that the Finder with its AppleEvent-centered architecture is
just one of quite a lot of GUI shells in this world as far as Emacs is
concerned.  Therefore solutions that build on existing Emacs
techniques are more likely to work (and to work sooner) than
OS-specific solutions, even if the latter would look more polished.

> 2) No Drag and Drop - text snippets
> On a Mac you can just drag a snippet of text with the mouse from one
> application and drag it directly into another application.

You want to implement that?  It is not something that Emacs has on
other platforms, I think, so it's probably on the very bottom of the
todo list of anybody else.

As a personal note, I know several Mac users and programmers and most
of them don't even know that feature, much less use it.  I also know
no Windows user that knows about that feature, although it does exist
on Windows with some applications.

> 3) Systemwide Clipboard - cut and paste
> On a Mac you can cut or copy a text snippet to the clipboard while
> in one application and then paste it back while in another
> application.

This works.

In which way (and for what version of Emacs) doesn't it work for you?
You may be confused because Emacs uses different keyboard shortcuts
for cut-and-paste.  That's because Emacs defaults were there long
before MacOS was invented.

Some of the keyboard shortcuts can be added as configuration items,
but some are already taken for other crucial functions in Emacs.  This
is a problem, and I think the only solution currently is to use some
compromise.  But there are quite differnt types of users, so I think
everybody will have to find her/his own compromise on that, that's the
intention of Emacs' configurability after all.

For specifics, besides roll-your-own, look at cua-mode and

> 4) HIG violations - quitting

You mean MacOSX violating Emacs HIGs?  Emacs is pretty tolerant in
that area, you know, it accepts whatever the users implement,
thankfully it doesn't care about the dictates of any company.

Don't get me wrong, I don't believe that the MacOSX HIGs are bad, they
are just not gospel to me, so *must* and *can't* are not terms that I
associate with them.

> On a Mac, all applications *must* quit when "Quit" is selected in
> the applications main menu (the one that carries its name).
> Further, applications *must* quit when the user choses "Quit" from
> the menu in the application's dock item. Finally, Cmd-Q is the
> designated keyboard shortcut for quitting.

If you think so, you should configure your Emacs to do that, where is
the problem?  Cmd-Q doesn't have any crucial function in Emacs by
default, I believe, so you are free to do what you want.

> 5) HIG violations - paste
> On a Mac, cut/copy/paste is Cmd-x/c/v. Emacs doesn't adhere to this,
> but in principle, this can be changed back to normal by defining
> keyboard macros.

See above. 

> 6) Emacs keyboard shortcuts
> Most of the Emacs keyboard shortcuts don't work.

Not true.

Of course it's possible that something that you want to work one way,
actually works differently, or even that you really encountered some
isolated bugs, or something that isn't implemented.  But than you'd
have to be specific with what you did, what you expected to happen as
a result, and what happened instead.  And you want to give some data
on your environment, like your Emacs version, and packages you had
installed and activated when your did what you did.  Oh, and it helps
to be polite and nice, too.

> 7) User Preferences - Fonts
> On just about every Mac application, you can set your preferred font
> and size. It seems Emacs doesn't allow one to do that. How do you
> change the font/size?

You can change the font, but I think this area is work-in-progress
even at the function level, not to mention user interface.  My latest
problems with that were that Carbon still uses that stupid MacRoman as
a font encoding, which is hardly Emacs' fault.  Yes, we should use
ATSU, but than I'm not doing the work, so I don't complain. 

Hope this helps, benny

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