[CALUG] Best programming app

Dave Dodge dododge at dododge.net
Tue Nov 29 19:01:06 CST 2005

On Thu, Nov 24, 2005 at 04:48:32PM -0500, James Ewing Cottrell 3rd wrote:
> Dave Dodge wrote:
> >Emacs can do just about anything (xemacs was originally the
> >core of a commercial IDE), but it does have a terrible learning curve
> >and can easily frustrate a new user.
> I would take issue with that. The FSF has successfully taught their 
> secretaries and other non-computer users emacs easily

Sure, but in that environment you'd have a bunch of seasoned emacs
users on hand.  I think someone trying to learn it at home on their
own could become intimidated much more easily.

Granted, I'm still in the mindset of learning it in the pre-WWW days
with only minimal GUI support.  Since it now has menus and toolbars
available, and the Internet is usually close at hand for digging up
answers, it's probably a lot easier to get started with it.

> The tutorial and help system (as well as info) is much better than
> having to RTFM.

Yes, but as an example: bring up the tutorial and notice that the
first mention of how to switch windows is somewhere around FOURTEEN
pages down.  It's very easy to find yourself in a split window and on
the "wrong" side of that split, even while just getting started.  Not
knowing C-x C-o drive me absolutely nuts and angrily aborted my first
several sessions with emacs.  Eventually I found a co-worker with a
good cheat sheet and was able to make some progress.  Again, I'll
grant that some of the multi-window behavior has changed, and these
days someone getting started can just use the mouse to switch focus.

> and many GUIs as well, so many already know a few emacs commands.

My most surprising case: I once instinctively typed C-x C-s (save the
current document) in Framemaker before I could stop myself, and was
shocked to then see that it had worked.

> And the (moded) vi commands don't translate well to commands line
> editing.

I have friends who run bash with vi-style line editing (something the
underlying "readline" library does support).  I get confused very
quickly when trying to do anything on their machines.

                                                  -Dave Dodge

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