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Re: Emacs usability

From: Xah
Subject: Re: Emacs usability
Date: Tue, 12 Aug 2008 07:48:58 -0700 (PDT)
User-agent: G2/1.0

On Aug 12, 7:14 am, Ted Zlatanov <address@hidden> wrote:
> On Tue, 12 Aug 2008 00:37:52 -0700 (PDT) Xah <address@hidden> wrote:
> > Ted Zlatanov wrote:
> > > The usability metrics (fairly standard in the industry) are listed in
> > >
> > > see their definitions.
> > > - concise
> > > - expressive
> > > - easy (in the sense of "mnemonic load")
> > > - transparent
> > > - scriptable
> > > - discoverable
> X> That's from “The Art of Unix Usability” by Eric S Raymond.
> X> These cult-like books are rather snake oil.
> I disagree that this particular book is in any way cult-like, but that's
> irrelevant.  What's important is the list of usability metrics as it
> applies to Emacs; if you disagree with that list then provide a better
> one.

A better book on issues such as software intereface and usability, in
my opinion, are for example:

• The Unix-Hater's handbook, by Simson Garfinkel, Daniel Weise, Steven
Strassmann, and Don Hopkins. 1994. The entire book is available at and local mirror:

• The Rise of “Worse is Better”↗ by Richard P Gabriel, 1991 (local

• “Java: Slow, ugly and irrelevant”, By Simson Garfinkel, 2001-01-08.,
(local copy)

• Joseph M. Newcomer. Optimization: Your Worst Enemy, 1999. (local copy)

• Theodore W Gray, author of Mathematica frontend, on educational math
software, video games, and violence, 2002-05.;
(local copy)

• the famous “Go To Statement Considered Harmful” by computer
scientist Edsger W Dijkstra, 1968.;
(local copy)

• Steve Job's interview by Wired (1996-02), on education system and
design. Steve Job is a insightful man.
(Local copy)

•'s Greg Knauss on Netscape and the “Skin” phenomenon.; (Local copy)

• Communications of the ACM 34, 4 (April 1991), 18. Henry G Baker,
1990. (On the harm of speed);
(local copy)

• Jamie Zawinski, notorious programer of xemacs and Netscape web
browser, has written a webpage that contains codes from Netscape
browser before its OpenSource release. Note the profanity laiden
comments and what they say. It gives a indication of the pain and
fucked-up-ness of computing industry.
(2004-08-02 local copy)

• Let's Make Unix Not Suck↗, by Miguel De Icaza, 1999.

• Code Complete : A Practical Handbook of Software Construction by
Steve C McConnell (↗). Throw away all your Design Patterns
or eXtreme Programming books. If you want a scientific book on
software development analysis, read this book instead.

• Alan Cooper, The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech
Products Drive Us Crazy and How To Restore The Sanity. 1999.
(↗) This book explains away the errors of today's softwares.
Alan Cooper also wrote the book About Face, on software interface

These are excerpts from:


Above are compiled around 2002 so is slightly outdated, and is more
geared towards software engineering and unix industry issues.

However, as a example of real software interface books, i'd recommend
Apple Human Interface design, and similar publication by Microsoft.,
and the references, researches, cited in these books.

A more practically accessable resource, is here:

from there, one can find tens more articles and references, that are
more quality references then any of those from the mouths of crackpots
the likes of Larry Wall or Eric Raymond. (disclaimer: all mention of
real persons are opinion only)


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