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Re: Recommended editor for novice programmers?

On Wed, 06 Sep 2017 16:19:03 +1000
Ben Finney <bignose@debian.org> wrote:

> Nick Boyce <nick@steelyglint.org> writes:
> > I don't want to provoke any religious war here, and sorry if I offend
> > anybody, but:
> That doesn't alter the fact that you've disparaged programs in terms
> that state an absolute problem inherent to the program. This is not
> helpful, because it implies that people who choose those programs are
> wrong and should be disparaged themselves.

I do disparage software when it seems ungood, but there is no implication from me that people who use that software are in any way to be disparaged - there may be many reasons why they're using that software, and my (possibly mistaken) opinion may even help them realise they have choices they didn't know about.  We all have to start learning somewhere - and it never ends.

> For example:
> > emacs is ridiculously heavy-weight
> That's an absolute statement of objective fact. 

I realise I should have scattered IM(H)Os all through my email, so lets start now: IMO it *is* an objective fact.  emacs is *huge* (please don't ask me for numbers) and cumbersome and overengineered if what you want is a lightweight lean fast straightforward text editor (and I usually do).  The wags didn't coin the joke about the name deriving from Eventually Mallocs All Computer System for nothing :)

> Do you think it is true for everyone? You have
> expressed it as though you do.

I don't think it *bothers* everyone, no.  People's use-cases differ.

> You are, in this expression, saying that people who 
> use Emacs deserve ridicule

Not in the slightest - it's horses for courses.  I'm stating *my* opinion about the software, and nothing about its users at all.

> > vi's power makes light work of many tasks but it's as user-friendly as
> > a cornered rat ... novices usually remember their first time trying to
> > find out how to exit with a genuine shudder.
> This gets too far into stating objective fact. How do you know the
> "usual" experience of novice Vi users, have you surveyed a statistically
> powerful sample?

No doubt my sample isn't an industry-wide statistically valid sample, but it's based on many many editor conversations with many programmer colleagues in the course of working for a number of large companies.  IME, programmers who arrive in the Unix world from other system types are often appalled at the primitive state of the user interface of many of the tools Unix provides (sendmail ...). Note that this is not to decry the many wonders of Unix, or more particularly Linux (which is a far superior animal to all of the commercial Unixen with which I have worked).

> I appreciate that it can be fun to rant about difficulties using
> programs, and Emacs and Vi are favourite topics of this sort. 

It sure is :)

> We can, and should, do so without also dismissing 
> other people as inferior.

Once again, and to emphasise: I said (and intended) nothing about the users of any software.

> When you acknowledge the possibility of provoking offense, 
> it is on your shoulders to either express yourself in ways
> that *don't* implicitly disparage people with different 
> preferences.

I'll allow that I should have prefixed everything I said with IMO.  There's no way to criticise an editor which doesn't risk offending some fans of said editor - the preemptive apology is the best I can do to avert that.  Luckily, most conversations about software quality that I've had with colleagues have been purely on a technical basis and have remained dispassionate, even when using metaphors like 'cornered rat'.  I remember an operating system whose response to commands was only ever 'OK' or 'ER' .... I don't like to tell you what I thought about that, but some people liked it because it didn't waste their time with verbiage.

Never FDISK after midnight.

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