Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Web Interface Is Morphing Into Emacs

A while back, Steve Yegge wrote a post on Emacs and its future. My executive summary of his post is that Emacs needs to compete or die - and the competition is the browser.

This got a little thread started on the Emacs development list, but not much activity. If Steve's line of reasoning is correct, then I surmise Emacs is dead b/c the Emacs development team is not at all interested in competing with the browser. Heck, they recently had a discussion on moving from CVS to a modern (distributed) version control system - and while there appears to be a tentative decision to move to Bazaar for version control, main development is still on CVS.

I personally think Emacs is a niche product. Like Unix, it has a dedicated fan base and will be around for the foreseeable future. But, it is never going to grow a large base of end-users. It has got a lot of ... baggagehistory that turns some people off: GPL, RMS, lisp, (lack of) speed, text-based, carpal tunnel, etc.

I love Emacs and do most everything inside Emacs, but it is not and probably will never be hip, exciting, new, or perceived as leading edge technology.

What was my point? Oh, right, Ubiquity was recently announced at Mozilla Labs.

I watched the 6 minute video demo. And my first impression? It is Emacs, only instead of M-x you use C-SPC. Soon, people will tire of typing things out and come up with shortcuts based on various key combinations, and it'll turn into Emacs.

Of course, if Ubiquity does that, it'll be cool/hip, and people won't complain about the key-bindings.

It's just like XML over Lisp. The reaction to Lisp is, "OMG! Parentheses! Run!" On the other hand, XML (with twice the number of parenthesis</>) is cool/hip and folks have flocked to it.

Steve was right about the competition, the browser has fired the first salvo, and it looks a lot like Emacs.

Mozilla Labs » Introducing Ubiquity