I am presently not understanding the commitment to the idea that a ‘meta’ key is something that has existed in the wild since 1980.
Again, I am going to try to push through this, but the first impressions I’m getting here is that emacs is abandonware. Tier-1 menus that don’t work. Documentation that’s totally untested, inconsistent and full of dead links and weirdly dated terminology (“visit new file”?) This software has not cared at all about new users’ first impressions in a really, really long time, if ever.
@mhoye i would go straight to using Spacemacs config for Emacs, brings you a little bit closer to our era where most Devs use vscode
I'm not sure what "user friendly in the late 80s" even means exactly. Although for sure Macwrite was much more approachable than emacs. FWIW the built-in help in emacs was pretty great for its time.
I found it easier to use than vi on the Unix systems at school.
This was after four months of using vi and getting somewhat proficient at it. I can do the mode switching but it's always imposed mental friction.
But emacs worked like the PC editors I was used to in that pressing a key got you the character, so that's what I went with.
(It turns out vi is way better on a mobile keyboard though, fwiw.)
@suetanvil It's basically Windows' CMD, but with file versioning and written in the 1980s. It's rather lovely
Hmmm. Someone should fork ReactOS, strip out the GUI stuff and turn it back into a VMS-alike.
@mhoye I don't really understand why they didn't just do a mass search&replace from "M-" to "Alt-" 20 years ago. Same with "kill and yank" to "cut and paste"
@fraggle it might be easier for me to fork this and update the docs myself as I go than to learn from these docs.
@Gargron @fraggle It refers to the “meta” key on the Symbolics Lisp Machine’s original “space cadet” keyboard, that IIRC happened to share a keycode Alt and Cmd on later PC and Mac keyboards. https://rcsri.org/collection/symbolics-keyboards/symbolics-keyboard-1.jpg
@mhoye The thing that really stuck for me ~12 years ago was just the dozen or so core movement and editing keybinds, everything else around it has always been weird clunky dross. But I haven't yet found another editor that does those core binds the same way, so I've dragged my minimally customized dotfile across innumerable new setups.
When I catch Emacs behaving like a conventional app (e.g. entering text replaces the selected text), I often treat it like a roach in the kitchen and edit my .emacs/init.el to squash that shit dead.
I.e., Emacs is its own wierd thing and it invented this stuff before it became common.
I view this with the kind of affection one has for an eccentric that one has learned to deal with (e.g. a sysadmin 🥁) but acknowledge it's not necessarily healthy.
Emacs falls into the category of tools that require some up-front time investment to learn before it becomes useful.
(I have some half-formed thoughts on how the field of UX tends to conflate "easy to use" with "easy to learn to use" or "easy to use without upfront effort" and that a lot of the most powerful software tools available are considered hard only because you need to learn to use it up front, but that's tangential.)
@suetanvil I have some sympathy for that position in general, but this is Stockholm Syndrome. There’s a difference between “this is challenging to learn because it is a big, complicated tool” and “this is challenging to learn because the documentation is missing, outdated or wrong”.
Less Stockholm and more sunk cost fallacy. I've made the investment and am reaping the benefit; it's possible that better design would have reduced that cost but it's too late for me now.
Also, apologies if I come across as an Emacs partisan. I have lots of complaints about it but it also works pretty well for me.
(FWIW, I've had no problem getting docs, so I'm wondering if it's a packaging issue on your end. Of course, I also just Google it most of the time so it may just be that.)
@mhoye I admire your patience. I don't think abandonware is the right word. When I first tried Emacs back in 1990-s, it was just as bad as it is now. I tried for a few days (naive young fool that I was), but eventually I gave up and never looked back. It wasn't abandoned, absence of empathy to its users has been the defining quality of its UX design throughout its history.
@jplebreton @abbienormal @angdraug @mhoye from restrictions made by devs. Basic example is it is free software, so you can mess with your code however you want, but its not only about code availability. Compared to vim Emacs has greater ways to extend itself, its not "limited" to vimscript and what devs let you "script", almost everything is changeable.
@mhoye I can confirm that after using emacs for a decade I have completely lost all comprehension of how normal people expect programs to work, except for a vague idea that it involves using the mouse for everything and the "view/edit source for this command" feature has been removed
@mhoye if you want an answer for "why do people continue to put up with this shit for so long?" it is 100% because "where else can you find an OS with a view/edit source for this command function that actually works?"
(without going back in time and using smalltalk, I mean)
@mhoye personally when I sat down one day last year to try and learn emacs, it wasn't a good time. learning vim (through neovim but I think it's the same tutorial) was much easier
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