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Re: Emacs: Problems of the Scratch Buffer

From: Joe Corneli
Subject: Re: Emacs: Problems of the Scratch Buffer
Date: Wed, 18 Apr 2012 13:31:48 +0100

A long time ago I wrote something called scrat.el that somewhat improves
scratch buffer functioning - what do you think?

On Wed, Apr 18, 2012 at 1:00 PM, Xah Lee <address@hidden> wrote:
> for entertainment purpose only.
> 〈Emacs: Problems of the Scratch Buffer〉
> ---------------------------------------------
> Emacs: Problems of the Scratch Buffer
>  By Xah Lee, 2008-09, …, 2012-04-18
> Here are reasons that the scratch buffer is not useful to most people:
>  1.It is not useful for 99% of emacs users. If people wanted a scratch
> pad, they can open a new document and not save it. This way is
> familiar to all software users.
>  2.The “*scratch*” “buffer” is designed for emacs lisp programers. (it
> defaults to lisp-interaction-mode.) 99% of emacs users are not lisp
> coders.
>  3.The “*scratch*” “buffer” is a INTRUSIVE IDIOSYNCRASY. New users are
> not familiar what it is. It is the first thing presented to users, and
> it persists.
> Scratch Buffer is Inconvenient
> Here are reasons that a alternative to “*scratch*” “buffer” is more
> useful:
>  1.There is no easy, intuitive way to create multiple scratch buffers.
> (it is done by calling switch-to-buffer 【Ctrl+x b】 then give a name
> that is not one of existing buffers.)
>  2.When the scratch buffer is closed, emacs does not prompt user to
> save it. This easily causes data loss.
>  3.A scratch pad can be very useful not just for temporary elisp code
> but for any scratch notes or programing in other languages. (For
> example, well known programer Stevey Yegg in his popular blog article
> Effective Emacs↗, considers creating new temp buffer as a top 10 tip
> in emacs productivity.)
>  4.Emacs does not provide a user level function to create a new
> buffer. It has menu 〖File▸Open file…〗 (a wrapper to the find-file
> command), which immediately prompt user for a full file path. This is
> annoying. Modern apps's New File command actually just create a new
> untitled file without prompting, and prompt only when user wants to
> save it. If user closes it, it prompts for saving.
> Proposed Fix: Adding a “new-buffer” Command
> I propose that emacs should add a command “new-buffer” with menu
> 〖File▸New〗. Once called, it should create a empty buffer titled
> {untitled, untitled<2>, untitled<3>, …}.
>  1.Users can now create multiple temp buffers easily, by just calling
> “new-buffer”. No more work-around using “switch-to-buffer” method.
>  2.Data lose is prevented because closing any unsaved buffer will
> prompt for save.
>  3.For lisp coders, new buffer can default to a lisp mode. Other
> programers can default it to python mode, ruby mode, etc.
>  1.No more redundant and mysterious “*scratch*” concept.
>  2.The menu command “New” is a widely adopted standard among apps
> across Mac, Windows, Linux.
>  3.A “new-buffer” command completely cover the functionality of
> emacs's “*scratch*” buffer.
>  4.The name “untitled” is conventional, widely understood.
> Implementation
> The above suggestion is implemented in ErgoEmacs Keybinding, where you
> simply press 【Ctrl+n】 to create a new buffer.

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