Daniel Weinreb on Emacs Keybinding

By Xah Lee. Date: .
From: Daniel Weinreb [d...@alum.mit.edu]
User-Agent: Thunderbird (Windows/20080421)
Newsgroups: comp.emacs,comp.lang.lisp
Subject: Re: effective emacs

xah...@gmail.com wrote:
│ Effective Emacs
│ (Long term emacs productivity tips.)
│ Xah Lee, 2008-05-29
│ I have used emacs daily since 1998. Typically, i spent several hours
│ inside emacs, everyday, for the past 10 years.

Same for me, except the year is 1977.  Nobody has been using Emacs
longer than I have (I was one of the original beta-testers.  I refer
here to the original Emacs, written in ITS TECO for the DEC 10.)

│ Emacs's default cursor moving shortcuts are “Ctrl+f”, “Ctrl+b”, “Ctrl
│ +n”, “Ctrl+p”. The keys f, b, n, p are scattered around the keyboard
│ and are not under the home row.

That's true.  At the time Guy Steele put together the Emacs default
key mappings, many people in the target user community (about 20
people at MIT!) were already using these key bindings.  It would
have been hard to get the new Emacs bindings accepted by the
community if they differed for such basic commands.  As you point
out, anyone using Emacs can very easily change this based on
their own ergonomic preferences.

│ Microsoft Natural Multimedia keyboard

Let me put in a quick plug for my own favorite keyboard, which
I am using right now: the Unicomp Customizer:


I like the feel of the keys very much.  I agree with you
that it's important, and worth some effort, for everyone
to find a keyboard that they feel most comfortable with.

│ Problem and Why Emacs's Keyboard Shortcuts Are Painful.

I generally make few customizations to the key bindings, so
that when I work with another programmer, I can turn the
keyboard over to them and not cause confusion.

│ Steve advices users to “Lose the UI”.

I rarely use the menu bar.  On the other hand, I was raised on an
Emacs that didn't have a menu bar, so I could be atypical.  Using
the mouse to set point or set the region is great, though, and I
use that a lot.

Here's another piece of historical trivia.  The Emacs keyboard
macro feature was inspired by a similar feature in the Stanford
DRAW system, an electrical CAD system widely-used by the AI lab
hardware hackers at the time.  It was very powerful.  But if you
made a mistake, it could really destroy your design, and so it
was a good idea to save to disk before running it.  We had a saying
for what happened if you forgot to save: “A moment of convenience,
a lifetime of regret.”  This predates the widespread use of “Undo”
functionality, surely one of the best ideas for user interfaces
ever invented.

-- Dan

From [emacs keybinding By Daniel Weinreb. At http://groups.google.com/group/comp.emacs/msg/0342e0bc1aa05c0d , accessed on 2008-06-20 ]

See also: Lisp Programer Daniel Weinreb Died (1959 to 2012)

Xah Notes

As of 2021-02-09, it seems Google Groups is no longer reliable. 40 years of newsgroup archive lost.

Google Groups lost history 2021-02-09
Google Groups lost history 2021-02-09

Usenet newsgroup is online discussion forum technology started around 1983, before the World Wide Web (WWW) began around 1991. Since the rise of WWW, a company called DejaNews starting around 1995 provides web interface to newsgroup, so people can read and post to newsgroup from a browser.

Google bought the DejaNews in 2001, and branded it Google Groups. It was widely applauded by programers because Google back then was known as do no evil company loved by programers and Google's product is very good and ethical. Google was the rising star, the good guy, supported by programers. In fact, Google wiped the spammy practice of ads on the web, by spreading sensible ads. That was all back then.

Today, by twists and turns, Google became the most evil tech empire in human history, and now the 30 years of programer disscussion, history of web technology, since 1970 to about 2010, seems wiped by Google. (note, newsgroup died by spam around 2010. [see Death of Newsgroups] )