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Re: Upcoming loss of usability of Emacs source files and Emacs.

From: Dmitry Gutov
Subject: Re: Upcoming loss of usability of Emacs source files and Emacs.
Date: Tue, 23 Jun 2015 14:40:50 +0300
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:38.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/38.0

On 06/23/2015 06:16 AM, Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:

It's also true that I've expressed an *opinion* that the costs to a
relative few are small compared to potential benefits for many.
Obviously, the opponents disagree about the balance.  When opinions
differ, shouldn't we go get some actual facts?

Someone should also clearly state the benefits, and to what they are attributed.

There's not too much value in having curly quotes appear directly in the source file. Maybe they'll appeal to aesthetics of some subset of Elisp programmers, whereas a lot of others will just be surprised. We could also reach the same effect with font-lock, with extra flexibility, and without the need to change the substitute-command-keys API (and support it forever thereafter).

As Andreas mentioned before, not every native English speaker is accustomed to them, and certainly not most of the people for whom English is not a native language.

Of course it's possible to go too far.  What's the appropriate
balance?  I don't know.  I think *this* experiment is a very
conservative one.  Try it and see, *then* oppose the feature if
appropriate.  If that works (that is, provides useful information
leading to consensus, which might be to keep or to revert the
feature), more progressive experiments may be justified.

Anyone interested in "trying" it can check out the current Emacs sources and type curly quotes in docstrings to their heart's content. There's not much to see or evaluate there.

[2]  Emacs is an organization of professionals, even if it can't
afford to pay them market rates.  And it certainly can't afford to pay
HCI experts.  It just has its reasons for avoiding the experiments
needed to get good information about usability of UI changes, and so
falls back on "logical thought about the changes".  Disclaimer: I
believe that those reasons are valid, but they are weaker today than
ever before, and the conservatism should be relaxed.

It would take quite a bit of conceit to assume that Emacs can make better choices WRT to docstring markup syntax than virtually every programming language and documentation format out there.

We're not even competing with other editors here.

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