[ESS] Care to critique some Emacs-ess slides?

Rodney Sparapani rsparapa at mcw.edu
Thu Aug 23 16:40:35 CEST 2012

On 08/22/2012 06:22 PM, Paul Johnson wrote:
> I told the students they have to use Emacs, and decided to write up
> slides for that.
> http://pj.freefaculty.org/guides/Rcourse/emacs-ess/emacs-ess.pdf
> Title "Emacs Has No Learning Curve."
> I argue against the general option, which seems to be that Emacs is
> too difficult and we all need to use RStudio or other IDEs that are
> designed to run on cell phones.
> I think the Emacs tutorial and most Emacs help sheets are causing a
> problem.  They try to teach people how to use Emacs without a mouse or
> arrow keys or page down keys. At the current time, It is simply not
> necessary for many users to remember how to change the active buffer
> with a keyboard.  The mouse&  menu approach is good enough for most
> people almost all the time.  If we put a few properly chosen settings
> in .emacs, Emacs can be just about as convenient as any other editor
> in the modern desktop world, and it is many times more powerful.
> I wonder if this theme is bothersome to you?  If you were learning
> Emacs today, would you really try to memorize keyboard navigation
> keys?  Ex: C-v to go to the "next screen" (that's the first thing in
> Emacs tutorial). I don't think somebody who finished high school after
> 1990 has even the slightest idea of what "screen" means in a terminal
> context. Just hit "page down" and forget about it!
> If you have ideas for more ESS highlights, please let me know. I think
> the C-c C-d and C-c C-l trick is the neatest feature ever.  But most
> of the other ESS stuff is pretty obvious from the GUI layout. I did
> not write anything about using gdb with C functions inside R packages.
> If I ever master that, I suppose I'll have to write another slideshow.
> pj

Hi Paul:

Very nice!  I agree with quite a lot of what you are saying.  What a
lot of people don't seem to get is that RStudio is
just for R.  The great power of emacs is/are modes.  We need to do all
kinds of things besides R for which there are wonderful modes like
C/C++, LaTeX, etc.  This is not meant to be a knock on RStudio as I
really like what they are doing.  I have even more complaints
about Eclipse and Xcode; they do allow plugins for other
languages; but, they are really clumsy to use:  for those who have
a hard time installing ESS try to get one of these other IDEs to
work with a plugin!

I want to put this link on the ESS web page.  Is that OK?

Just a couple of minor comments on the slides...
Slide 13: Alt = Meta is not a given.
Slide 16: actually, I think there were function keys around at the
time that emacs was invented since it started on Dec hardware which
are famous for their function keys.
Slide 21: the web page got put together with the last word in the 1st line

Slide 28:  This is a big digression...
I have been fond of IBM's Common User Access (CUA) for Cut/Copy/Paste
which don't conflict with Emacs at all.
Copy region: C-Insert
Cut region:  Sh-Delete
Paste region: Sh-Insert
Unfortunately, I don't have a simple prescription for setting these,
and my reading of the cua-mode documentation doesn't mention them.
It seems to me that cua-mode is not really CUA at all.  Rather, it
appears to be mimicking Apple's Human Interface Guidelines

Slide 45: if you hover over the beginning of the modeline, then you
will see that you can toggle read-only by clicking the 4th character

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