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Re: basic question: going back to dired

From: Tim X
Subject: Re: basic question: going back to dired
Date: Sat, 26 Jul 2008 12:17:44 +1000
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/23.0.60 (gnu/linux)

"Lennart Borgman (gmail)" <address@hidden> writes:

> Tim X wrote:
>> Bastien <address@hidden> writes:
>>> Those who say "Hey! The learning curve is too high." are those
>>> who don't really want/need Emacs.
>> Exactly. Well said. 
> I thought Bastien was joking there. Maybe I was misunderstanding, but when
> people complains about the learning curve I believe they are mostly saying
>   "Hey! The learning curve in Emacs is to high. It did
>    not take that long at all to learn to do the same thing
>    in the other programs I tried."

I don't agree. My experience with people learning emacs isn't that the
learning curve is too steep for the things they do with other programs,
but rather that the learning curve is steep because there is so much
more functionality to learn. The basics of emacs don't really differ
that much from any other editor. 

For the record, I was agreeing with his point about concentrating on
extending functionality rather than worrying about terminology so
much. It is the functionality that will bring people to emacs, not
modern terminology. If the functionality they want is there, they will
accept the terminology even if they feel it could have been defined
better. No matter how good the terminology is, nobody will be interested
if it doesn't have the functionality. 

Note that I'm not saying any functionality. If the way you use/access
the functionality is too difficult to use, its poorly implemented
functionality and won't help. However, if using the functionality is
straight-forward, even if the terms seem alien at first, people will

I still don't see the terminology as being as bad as many claim. The
term buffer is no harder to understand for someone who has never come
across it before than the term workspace for someone who has not come
across that before. Using frame and window, while possibly slightly
different to what someone may be use to, is not a difficult concept to
understand. Key binding is quite straight-forward. The only one which I
think will really seem alien is the use of the term 'face'. However, I
can't think of an adequate replacement - some would argue font, but
really that is just part of what a face represents. Once you understand
all the aspects of what a face represents, font seems like a very poor

I think the real source of issues regarding terminology is actually more
a reflection of laziness. People don't want to read the manual and they
want it all to be self evident. However, when you have something as
powerful as emacs, it becomes almost impossible to make verything self
evident and what can be considered self-evident changes over time. I
don't believe anyone who has done the tutorial and read the intriductory
parts of the emacs manual will have any problems with the
terminology. If they can't be bothered reading the manual or doing the
tutorial, then I have little sympothy with the problems they have
learning the terminology. 

tcross (at) rapttech dot com dot au

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