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Thread: Open Source Software

All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others.

Re-surfacing From Emacs

Chronogical Blog Entries:

Date: Wed, 10 Sep 2008 15:06:46 +1000

Recently, I described my brief 20,000 leagues under the Emacs Sea. Since my main interest in programming these days is perl, I was keen to navigate the Emacs submarine around the depths of the perl arctic regions.

One of the things I discovered was that the cperl mode that shipped with Emacs 21.2.1 had some strange "undocumented features", that would cause it to lose its marbles while rendering POD code. I solved this by getting a more recent version of the cperl-mode.el, compiling it and replacing the version in the Emacs library, which I described here.

This lead me to explore various other packages available for Emacs. As I expected the list was impressive.

Perhaps a bit too impressive. There seemed to be everything, from simple word processing things like on-the-fly spell checking and beautifying text to creating fractals and playing chess.

I found the number of packages quite daunting. How could I tell which packages were ok? I could only read the comments from each individual developer and make a judgment as to whether it was a stable release or a beta. And how would each package interact with all the other packages? Surely there would be some some subtle interaction amongst all this lisp code?

It seems that down in the Emacs depths chaos reigns supreme. After all that excitement in the control room of the Emacs nuclear submarine it feels quite comforting to return to the staid old conventional "vi".

Don't get me wrong, we all just love those chaotic little Emacs submariners. Without them we might not have GNU. But, I do wonder why there isn't some equivalent of CPAN for Emacs.

Perhaps someone has contemplated it and just given up, faced with the terrifying complexity of all that chaos.

BTW on the journey I discovered this little hoax email:
From: Richard Stallman
Date: Sat, 01 Apr 2006 15:53:20 -0500
Subject: emacs rewrite

After more than 30 years I think it's time to rewrite emacs from scratch.

I would be happy to hear your suggestions about the best language to use.

At the moment I think that Perl would be the best fit, because of its acronym:

Perfect emacs rewriting language.

Apparently RMS was quite amused by this.

Very droll.

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Copyright     2008, Gerry Patterson. All Rights Reserved.