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Re: Emacs Lisp's future

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: Emacs Lisp's future
Date: Wed, 17 Sep 2014 13:21:21 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/24.4.50 (gnu/linux)

Nic Ferrier <address@hidden> writes:

> Lars Magne Ingebrigtsen <address@hidden> writes:
>> I think there's a somewhat greater cultural overlap between Emacs Lisp
>> and Common Lisp people ("get things done") than between Emacs Lisp
>> people and Scheme people ("interesting academically").
>> Anyway, I think the dangled sorta-promise that Emacs would eventually
>> shift to Guile might have stifled Emacs Lisp development.  Whenever
>> somebody has brought up the issue of evolving Emacs Lisp (to
>> multi-threadedness or whatever's fun), they're usually discouraged by
>> others piping in with "oh, Emacs is moving to Guile, anyway, so don't
>> bother".
> I don't think that's true.
> From my perspective, what's stopping more people getting involved is the
> community, which is sometimes quite negative and the tooling, which is
> baroque.

Well, let's take a comparison:

git shortlog -s --since "1 month ago" origin/master

in a current GUILE repository gives

     2  Andy Wingo

while in a current Emacs repository it gives

     4  Alan Mackenzie
     1  Alp Aker
     4  Christoph Scholtes
     1  Christopher Schmidt
     5  Daniel Colascione
     1  Detlev Zundel
    27  Dmitry Antipov
    50  Eli Zaretskii
     1  Fabián Ezequiel Gallina
    26  Glenn Morris
     1  Ivan Shmakov
     5  Jan D.
     1  Jay Belanger
     1  João Távora
     1  Kan-Ru Chen
     1  Karol Ostrovsky
     3  Katsumi Yamaoka
     8  Ken Brown
     1  Ken Olum
     1  Lars Ljung
     2  Lars Magne Ingebrigtsen
     4  Leo Liu
    15  Michael Albinus
     1  Michael Heerdegen
    34  Paul Eggert
     1  Rasmus Pank Roulund
     1  Reuben Thomas
     9  Sam Steingold
    16  Stefan Monnier
     2  Thierry Volpiatto
     1  YAMAMOTO Mitsuharu
     8  martin rudalics

That does not particularly make Emacs look like a project keeping people
from getting involved.  Of course, the project/repository structure of
both projects is different, but the basic idea that forward-looking
development happens in the master branch is loosely common to both.

If we take GNU LilyPond, incidentally based on GUILE 1.8, for reference,
we get something like

git shortlog -s --since "1 month ago" origin
    60  David Kastrup
     4  James Lowe
     6  Janek Warchoł
     3  Jean-Charles Malahieude
     4  Julien Rioux
     5  Keith OHara
    19  Phil Holmes
     3  Trevor Daniels
     1  Walter Garcia-Fontes

Now this is a project that has to suffer from a lead developer who is
considered to be sometimes (or more) quite negative, and the tooling,
namely GUILE 1.8 which is considered outdated and unmaintained for
something like 5 years or so, can also be called baroque.

The result is a quite more peaked distribution of contributions per
developer than with Emacs which has sort of a plateau at the top.

So I think that the news of Emacs' demise due to the named reasons is
quite exaggerated.  There is always room for improvement, of course, but
no particular need to panic.

David Kastrup

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