Re: Text editors

On Tue, 13 Jul 1999, Maximilien Lincourt wrote:

> Christopher Atlee wrote:
> > 
> > Hi there,
> > 
> > 
> > Would it not make sense for these programs to make use of a common text
> > editor instead of providing their own? 
>  Yes it does, but for now, there's no real editor that is easy to use 
> and powerfull for the ordinary user and that have the GPL or 
> any acceptable licensing available; the one I would prefer is 
> still nedit, but the licensing is not quite ready; or acceptable
> to the general GNU community.
> > I was thinking that it would be great if I could use a componentized version
> > of vim in any application that needed a text editor. 
>  I don't think that using a vi clone, or a emacs clone as a
> standardized
> editor is a good idea, remember that we may be using gnome and, for
> most
> of us, we are in the "programming" business or in the hacking 
> ( in good sense of the word ) hobby, but if the goal of the gnome
> community is to offer an alternative to commercial OSes, we have to 
> be sure that the tools that are included in the packages must be 
> dummy proof and easy to use without leaving to options to let 
> more advance users use the tools to their fullest.
>  The editor wars is one of the more important one ( I think ) 
> on the GNU/Linux front, I remember when I started using Unix, 
> the only editor available was vi, and emacs, I used to have a
> hell of a time just using those tools; but it's my jobs and I 
> had to learn those tools to be effective.

I had a hell of a time learning the alphabet when I was 6, but it payed
off the effort. I can't remebber of anything (computer related or not)
that I was able to to without first learning how to do it. (learning by
doing still counts as learning! )

Even learning how to use Netscape and to navigate the Internet is quite
hard for some people, and I know it because I teached a few.

>  but if I have to propose linux and gnome to my mother and the 
> first thing she wants to do is send an Email to someone, and 
> she is presented with vi ( or emacs ) she will turn around and
> not look at linux again. that's why I don't believe the use of 
> vi clone or emacs clone are the way to go.

Well, my girlfriend, who is a medicine student, prefers pine and not 
netscape mail (we use linux at home). She also used emacs and latex
(instead of staroffice) to write her diploma thesis. All I did was giving
her the documentation and told her to carefully read all the messages on
the screen. Personally, I was surprised to find that she actually managed
to do it. She said that it wasn't difficult at all. Also my mom still
prefers Word Perfect 5.1 to Word. And I know of people who are using
(yes!) Word Star!

I really believe that whether somethin is intuitive and easy to use,
really depends on how familiar you are with the product. I met people who
never saw a copmuter before who found MS Win to be hard to use.

Until we have thought-controlled software (natural language
understanding programs are tricky because users don't know how to express
themselves) I think the best we can do is write good documentation, good
tutorials, and context sensitive help. It does not matter that you have to
type:w or C-x C-s or push some save button as long as the action is
documented. You can also improve the system by maintaining a consistency
among programs. After you show a user that by pushing the save button will
save the document, the user will look for a save button in every
application, and he/she will say it is intuitive. However, for the first
application is not intuitive at all you *have to* show her/him how to save
the document.

>  Remember that creating software, is not only for us 
> "geek/nerd/hacker/developer" but also for the general 
> public ( and your mom ! ).

Have you actually asked the "general public"? If you fall in the
"geek/nerd/hacker/developer" category, how can you tell what the "general
public" thinks is intuitive? Or it's just what you think they think?

Best Regards,

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