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Re: customize

From: Edward Welbourne
Subject: Re: customize
Date: Mon, 29 Jul 2002 13:17:14 +0200

> I documented custom-face, but I don't see a reason to change the
> default to use a different file.

Jeff was discussing customisation of custom-file, not custom-face.
But I'm guessing that's what you meant.

Three reasons for setting custom-face to somewhere other than ~/.emacs
(only arguably reasons against using ~/.emacs as default for

  * Database reason: one file then contains only customize's actions,
    making it much easier to keep track of which pieces of one's
    config come from where.

  * Priority/ordering reason: customize adds things to the end of its
    file: this is sensible for it, but potentially bad for elisp which
    needs to be executed after customizations; using a separate file
    for customize lets my ~/.emacs load the customize part early, late
    or in between, at my option, rather than having it always be last.

  * Byte-compilation: putting it all in a separate .el file provides
    for the possibility of byte-compiling the customization elisp.

Having customize write to ~/.emacs leads to its works being mixed up
with the user's hand-coded elisp; it also ensures that customize's
actions over-ride everything the user sets up in elisp.

Two reasons for using ~/.emacs as the default:

  * Simplicity: ~/.emacs is being loaded anyway; if customize writes
    to any other file, ~/.emacs must load that file; users will be
    confused/upset if their customization efforts have no effect
    (because the file the customization was recorded in hasn't been

  * Convenience/consistency: using a byte-compiled file requires
    recompilation each time any customizations get added.

Personally, I'm with Jeff on this ... but I suspect this is the
natural bias of old hands; while newbies need convenience with
simplicity, and can't be expected to work out what to do about

Having the customization system provide a clear and prominent mention
of custom-file's role, on its front page, would probably be the wisest
approach; newbies could safely ignore it and have their customizations
work, while old hands would have the one clue we need to fix it up the
way we prefer.


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