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

From: Eli Zaretskii
Subject: Re: Upcoming loss of usability of Emacs source files and Emacs.
Date: Tue, 23 Jun 2015 17:56:29 +0300

> From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <address@hidden>
> Cc: address@hidden,
>     address@hidden,
>     address@hidden,
>     address@hidden
> Date: Tue, 23 Jun 2015 12:16:46 +0900
> > Try the Windows console some day.
> I have, and Japanese has worked fine for two decades AFAICR.  This
> includes various quotation marks, which have been accessible from
> MSIME since Windows 9x at the latest.  That might be specific to the
> Japanese localization though, since you can't do anything without
> input methods in Japan.

I'm not talking about input methods here, I'm talking about display.

In any case, localized versions of Windows (or any OS) are a thing of the
past; with Unicode we should be able to have all this regardless of the
locale, right?  But we don't.  Not every locale is .UTF-8, and on
Windows there's no UTF-8 locale at all.

It's amazing how Windows, which was the first mass OS that adopted Unicode,
still doesn't have any decent support for it on the console.  Displaying
Unicode in console programs needs to use undocumented halfheartedly
supported features, tricky programming using wchar_t I/O, and eventually
you bump into the basic limitation that there are no bundled console fonts
that support any large subset of the BMP, let alone the other planes.

> So please don't tell me that I'm dismissing your problems while
> quoting my denial that I was dismissing them and the explanation of
> what I *was* doing.

Then please don't tell me my words were out of context while explaining why
they are.

>  > > But guess what?  AFAICT, the rest of the software world doesn't have
>  > > these problems.  People are typing scores of odd characters in email
>  > > to me all the time.  And not just Japanese, but good ol' boys and
>  > > girls from the U S of A.  How do they manage that, I wonder?
>  > 
>  > My guess would be that the mail composing program inserts Unicode
>  > quotes when the user types ASCII quotes.
> It's not just quotation marks.  It's foreign words spelled correctly,
> ellipses, the occasional math symbol (the lemniscate (infinity) is
> popular among the more flaky of my correspondents), emoticons, and
> various other symbols (dice, playing card suit symbols, enclosed
> characters such as circled numerals).  There are too many of them to
> excuse with "smart quotes"; users are using "input methods" of some
> sort for these characters that don't exist on their keyboards.

Not IME.  When I type "1st", "2nd", etc., one particularly popular mailer,
which will remain unnamed, automatically makes the "st" and "nd" parts
rendered as superscripts.  Ellipses appear if I type "...", em-dashes
appear if I type "--", and "→" if I type "-->".  If I type "naive", it gets
converted to "naïve".  Emoticons appear automatically if I type their
ASCII-art equivalents.  Likewise with "(c)", "(tm)", "(r)", and "(e)" (I'll
let you guess what the last one gets me).  There are special
auto-conversions for math symbols, too numerous to mention.  Plus, I've
counted more than a dozen of other such automatic conversions that I can
turn on or off.  And -- no less important -- each auto-converted text gets
a small widget shown near it, which allows to undo that particular
conversion with a single mouse click.

Given all that, why would one need an input method, except when typing in
some complex script?

We in Emacs have yet a way to go until we get there.  Are there any
motivated volunteers reading this who'd like to provide something like
that in Emacs text modes?

> Let's try loosening up and find out, no?

Yes, let's.  But let's not forget about the inconveniences this will bring
to some, either.  Let's not dismiss them.  Let's provide graceful fallbacks
for them.  As we are doing now.  Let's not be too religious about these

> You don't bother to mention that you're aware of benefits, or what
> they are, when you allege that I'm biased against admitting there are
> costs.  As far as I can tell from the words you post, you are indeed
> opposed to the changes, describing only costs at every turn.  I can't
> know what you're thinking but not posting, sorry.

You can see what I'm coding, though.  Messages I post here are only part of
what I do for Emacs; the rest is in the repository.  Who do you think just
spent several days getting emoticons to display correctly out of the box,
or on making the curved quotes display as reasonable fallbacks on a Windows

>  > I just think that we shouldn't dismiss so easily the issues these
>  > changes bring with them.  IOW, we should see this issue in its
>  > delicate balance.
> You're telling *me*?

Not just you, everyone who reads this list.  This ain't private mail, and
I'm not talking to you alone.

> It's certainly true that I've engaged in hyperbole.

That's my sole point: don't.  Hyperboles don't help a bit here.

> I'm sure Paul thought he was doing the right thing at the time.  The only
> way for him to know what you think is the right way is for you to review.
> You didn't

Yes, I did, see


and a lot of others.

IOW, your mental model of what I think and do in these matters seems to be

> Of course it's possible to go too far.  What's the appropriate
> balance?  I don't know.

My point is that we should make these steps carefully, one step at a time,
and provide fallbacks and ways to switch this off where possible on every
step.  Which is what we've been doing.  You seem to be advocating to charge
ahead and never look back, and that's not TRT, IMO.  That's all I wanted to
point out: there shouldn't be any fervor in this development, just
cautious, slow movement ahead.

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