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Editors (Was: Info sucks?)



Ye new subject line----someone had to do it!

On Thu, Sep 17, 1998 at 01:23:27AM -0500, Manoj Srivastava wrote:
> 	I really think we should not be having this discussion. To
>  prove it, read my comments below. 

I don't know, let me toss in my comments and see what you think.


>  Avery>   - there's a *context sensitive* status bar at the bottom of the
>  Avery>     screen, offering useful and relevant keystrokes for
>  Avery>     whatever you're doing.
> 
> 	Very distrcting. This maybe novice friendly, but is extremely
>  distracting to the advanced user who does not need the help.

.${EDITOR}rc:
# May wish to uncomment if you don't need/want these things
#statusbar = off
#showmenubar = off
#usemouse = off


>  Avery>   - all menu bars are accessible with the mouse, ALT-keys (CUA
>  Avery>     standard, and a very good idea) and F10+arrows (not so
>  Avery>     intuitive but sometimes useful).  Often-used menu bar
>  Avery>     options tell you hotkeys to launch them: learn as you go,
>  Avery>     *without* going out of your way to read manuals.
> 
> 	Alt keys are usefule for other things besides menus (I use
>  them for ALTernate input methods)However, like Emacs, one shuld
>  provide access to the menu through the keyboard too. I guess I
>  agree. 

Whoever said first that key bindings should be definable was right.


>  Avery>   - context-sensitive online help.  If you have a problem, press F1 (CUA
>  Avery>     standard key) and it tells you information that's
>  Avery>     *relevant* to your current situation.  Press F1 again and
>  Avery>     it tells you how to use the help system.
> 
> 	I prefer that on Shift-right button, where Emacs puts it. Not
>  only context sensitive help, but context sensitive actions (try psgml
>  mode with sgml-tags-menu bound there when editing SGML. Contenxt
>  sensitive editing at its best. 

definable mouse functions too, TSE/Pro (qedit's big brother) did this to
some degree.


>  Avery> joe is my favourite non-programming Unix editor, but it lacks
>  Avery> a lot of this.  emacs is the most powerful Unix editor, but it
>  Avery> also lacks friendliness -- how quickly can you navigate the
>  Avery> menu bar with the keyboard in emacs?  I don't even know *how*.
> 
> 	Your lack of knowledge proves nothing. I have no idea how to
>  access help in a CUA program using the keyboard, but I do in
>  Emacs. Does that not make Emacs good, CUA bad?

96% of computer users don't use unix.  To those users, F1 usually equates
with help.  Even in vim is this the case.


>  Avery> Yet with every CUA program, I instantly know how to use the
>  Avery> menu bar.
> 
> 	And I do not What does that prove?

Sure you do, you have a mouse right?  And if you had that status bar, it
would tell you F10 for menu, and if you didn't have that F in File is
highlighted for example, and the F1 help (also on the statusbar you don't
need) says this means you can use alt-f to bring up the file menu.  Your
argument that you didn't need the statusbar fades when you say that you
don't know the commands.  I bet that after using the statusbar for a few
days though you won't need it and can either turn it off or as I would tell
it to show more useful information, like where I am in the file, status of
linewrap, insert, hex/decimal representation of the character under the
cursor .....

And if the editor were truly usful, it would come with vi(m?) UI file to
make it act like vim, possibly including command mode (hey, command mode in
vi is powerful, you have to admit that), one for emacs to make the keys and
mouse work like you'd expect, etc.

Of course, if you want your editor to be your editor, your irc client, your
mail reader, your web browser, etc and you like emacs keybindings, there's
no reason you can't still use emacs.  Or vi if you prefer it.

The closest editor to the one I describe is joe, but jue has no way to use
some of the keys you'd expect coming from a CUA environment, ignores mouse
support, and in general just could be better.  It could also not leave my
terminal in a state in which it thinks I have local echo and a simple
linefeed will go to the beginning of the next line, but nobody else has ever
reported this as a bug and therefore the bug gets ignored..  =<


>  Avery> There are a lot of important user interface considerations
>  Avery> that many, many Unix programs simply ignore, and that CUA
>  Avery> takes into account.  I won't use the word "intuitive" to
>  Avery> describe this because, as many people pointed out, there's no
>  Avery> such thing as a completely "intuitive" interface.
> 
> 	I know. Now, if everyone would just follow emacs lead in
>  propah unser interfaces ...

I'd rather see emacs follow the proper lead of other programs and be
configurable so you can use whatever user interface you know, be it emacs,
vi, cua, cua+mouse, brief, wordstar, wp51, borland IDE, ......


>  Avery> Good interfaces take advantage of human observational
>  Avery> characteristics (eg.  when things change, they are more
>  Avery> obvious), spacial memory, incremental learning, and skill with
>  Avery> metaphors.  You can start simple and learn without trying very
>  Avery> hard all at once.
> 
> 	Precisely my sentiments. One just starts with an emacs
>  tutorial, and one learns the basics. Then one grows in elisp, and
>  becomes more and more sophisticated, learning incrementally,
>  configuring ones environment in layers, until the beast breathes,
>  creates intelligent random signatures, and even thinks for one. 

elisp is not a simple and basic language for someone who has trouble with sh
scripts that do more than simple pipes and redirections.  I pity people who
simply can't fathom concepts that'll get them further than that, but I admit
I'm not MUCH further along because at this time I have no need to be.


>  Avery> Bad user interfaces choose arbitrary keys (yes, of COURSE it's
>  Avery> C-X C-C or :q to quit!), do not provide hints (menu bar? what
>  Avery> menu bar?), ignore common user assumptions (old versions of
>  Avery> info didn't use the arrow keys) and require extensive
>  Avery> explanations of seemingly simple operations (cut and paste in
>  Avery> wordstar, navigation versus insert mode in vi).
> 
> 	I know. But Emacs has had a menu bar for longer than there
>  have been windows, I think. 

In TSE/Pro, you could hide the menubar (not nice if you're rodent dependant)
and call it up with escape, or whatever key you bound to call up the menu. 
Escape was not really an intuitive method for getting to the menu, but it
was easier for me than F10 of the more CUA UI, so I didn't change it.


>  Avery> The first time you start vi or emacs, you have to _fight_ with
>  Avery> the darn things to get out again.
> 
> 	Ah, pah. How does one get out of a windows program? I
>  definitely do not want to open or close files. I want to quit. Now
>  what?

Click the little X button?


> 	Emacs tells you how to get out on start up. If you explaore
>  the menu, it shows you again how to exit. Why should I go to the file
>  menu to exit the program? Search me. 

That's as bad as Start to shut down, I agree.


>  Avery> Same with info reader, and lots of other Unix user interfaces.
>  Avery> I don't care how much you're used to emacs and vi -- that's
>  Avery> all it is.  They aren't, and will never be, examples of good
>  Avery> user interface design.
> 
> 	Your darned opinioin. I find Emacs to be the best user
>  interface that god ever put on the face of the earth. Not like some
>  of the pointy clickey counter intutive point until you die
>  interfaces. 

You must hate X as much as I do on principle.


>  Avery> It bothers me that so many advanced programmers -- and I
>  Avery> consider myself, and many of the Debian developers, members of
>  Avery> that group -- live in their own little bubble, assuming that
>  Avery> what's easy for them is easy for everybody.  That's not true
>  Avery> at all; in particular, many, many people do not retain much
>  Avery> information when they read high-density stuff like emacs
>  Avery> documentation.  Most people don't learn as fast as we do.
> 
> 	You do not go far enough. Nobody can create an interface that
>  everyone finds easy to use (I hate Word, it has the most obtuse and
>  opaque user interface). 
> 
> 	One mans meat is ....

Think that's bad, try patheticwriter, packaged as pw.  It's part of Siag
Office and not only is it Wordlike, it's incomplete wordlike and the mouse
has to be over the "paper" for you to be able to type, even when the window
is focused!  That got purged fast.


>  Avery> It is possible (really!) to design an interface that's easy
>  Avery> and powerful for everyone *including* us.
> 
> 	Name me one. You have not so far. 

An interface that can be whatever you want, including keyboard commands,
mouse functions, modifier keys, whatever.


>  Avery> Don't duplicate a bad UI just because you're used to it --
> 
> 	Right. Stay far far away from CUA and other horrors.

I think that statement (and its reply is not good, either of you.  If old
unix hands didn't have vi anymore, they would feel slighted.  If emacs
people suddenly had to learn something new, they'd think the new program was
complex and hard to use.  But the same goes for the people out there who are
used to M$Word, wp51, brief, Borland IDEs, qedit, TSE/Pro, wordstar, edlin
(I just had to throw that one in there....)


>  Avery> design it well, and your program will be better for everyone.
> 
> 	Make it like emacs, and the world shall beat a path to your door.

The world, sans windoze users and vi fans..  =p

(waiting for someone to write a true universal interface editor for any unix
that doesn't require X)

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