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Re: bug#23425: master branch: `message' wrongly corrupts ' to curly quot

From: Paul Eggert
Subject: Re: bug#23425: master branch: `message' wrongly corrupts ' to curly quote.
Date: Sun, 4 Jun 2017 14:01:42 -0700
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:52.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/52.1.1

Alan Mackenzie wrote:

We have moved from a state where everybody knew what
`message' did (in Emacs 24), to one with wild special characters which
only apply sometimes, and necessitate crazy prolix formulations to work
around unwanted translations of quote characters.

This exaggerates somewhat. We moved from Emacs 24 where only % is special, to Emacs 25 where %, ` and ' are special. Although some people don't know that ` and ' are special, that's also true for %. And although it can be annoying to write (message "%s" STR) to avoid unwanted translation of STR, that annoyance was already present for %.

it makes sense to shift this burden over to the use cases where the
programmers need quote translation, and hence will be aware of it.
When text-quoting-style specifies translation, most instances of ` and ' in Emacs messages are better off translated. So it also makes sense to translate by default in this situation, with a way to avoid translation in the rare cases where translation isn't wanted. The question is about which approach makes more sense, not whether one approach is sensible and the other nonsense.

although it simplifies ‘message’ (obviously), this is at the price of
complicating everything else.

What is the "everything else" that gets thus complicated?

I was referring to the hassle of going through hundreds or thousands of message strings or calls, deciding which instances of ` and ' should be replaced with %` and %', and replacing the instances accordingly. It's also possible that at times we'll need two format strings instead of one, complicating the code.

There are around 17,000
occurrances of "message" in our Lisp sources, and probably a few in our
C sources.  Only (some of) those containing the quote characters in the
format string would need amendment.  These will comprise a tiny portion
of these ~17,000

How many lines do you think will be in that "tiny portion"? No matter how you count them, it'll be quite a few changes.

and can be found easily enough with a script

I'm afraid not, because in many cases the string is not a simple literal constant argument to the message function. For starters, there's also the error function; that's another 14,000 text matches in the Elisp source -- many of them false alarms of course, but not all of them.

I'm not saying this sort of change is impossible. It's just that it'd be quite a bit of work, work that someone would need to volunteer to do. Is this really the best use of our limited resources?

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