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ideas for customize

From: Samuel Wales
Subject: ideas for customize
Date: Sat, 3 Jan 2009 16:49:26 -0700

Recently two people expressed different opinions on the value of
customize.  I hope that this email helps create more understanding.

A lot of people seem to find customize irksome.  I very much
appreciate the work that went into it and the philosophy
behind it, but I admit that I, too, don't use it (except for
faces because I don't know how to do those otherwise).

Here are some extemporaneous ideas for possible ways to
improve it.

These are just my impressions and some of them might be
incorrect.  I might have missed a few things.

However, I hope that they are useful.  :)

  - the customizable entries should stand out.  but some
    are in a special face while others are not.  help text
    and docstrings look the same as the entries.  a special
    face, perhaps red, used for all customizable entries and
    not used for anything else, would help.
  - help text does not take into account window-width.  it
    should fill according to window-width minus a fixed
    amount.  this should also optionally occur for docstring
    text, ideally trying to notice, filladapt-style, when
    there is a table, a list, or code.
  - it is not easy to navigate with the keyboard.  n and p
    get stuck on values, then you have to manually go to the
    next widget.
  - too many keystrokes to try various settings (e.g. try
    various faces).
  - perhaps something like orgstruct minor mode could be
    used to organize the customize buffer so that users do
    not have to learn a special way of interacting.
  - a more flexible infrastructure for customize-changed,
    which also works for large packages that do not come
    with emacs, might be nice.
  - the difference between "undo edits" and "reset to saved"
    is not clear.  rewording would help.
  - it is not clear how to .emacs -ize custom code.  simple
    for variables, less so for faces.  also not clear when
    to do so, in the case of faces.  for example, will a
    restart of emacs be necessary?
  - having the entries in custom-set-variables and
    custom-set-faces include the (useless for it but useful
    for the user) setq or set-face (or whatever it is) would
    make it easy to cut and paste from the custom section to
    your own .emacs.
  - it is not easy to hide and unhide.  a key would be
    easier than buttons.
    - have help text tell you how.
  - trees should be easier to fold and unfold, perhaps with
    a key.
  - a command for next and previous (perhaps redefining n
    and p) which also optionally hides and unhides
    everything as you navigate, would also help.
  - it seems to say changed outside of customized even when
    it is not.  have not tracked this down.  comment
  - choosing numbers to choose the state requires a
    translation step.  selecting by letter would be less
    cognitively burdensome.

Again these are just possibilities for improving the (imo)
good start that is customize.

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causing further suffering and death by grossly corrupting science.  Do
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