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After A Year, Emacswiki Alternative Shutting Down 127

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the oddmuse-shall-reign-supreme dept.
About a year ago, someone decided that EmacsWiki was outdated and unorganized, to the detriment of the Emacs community. So, he started a new wiki (WikiEmacs, choosing Mediawiki instead of Oddmuse, and attempting to give it a saner organizational structure). In the end, his project failed to grain traction, and it's shutting down for the greater good of Emacs: "I want to extend a big public apology to Alex Schroeder for my harsh criticism of EmacsWiki. One year later I see that stewarding documentation projects and nurturing a healthy community around them is much harder than writing software. I’m but a humble software engineer and you’ll have to forgive me for my misguided actions. I hope that something good has(will) come up from all this drama. At the very least I urge everyone who cares for EmacsWiki to try and clean up, extend and improve at least a couple of articles on subjects that are of importance to him. I know that’s something I’ll be doing from now on."
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After A Year, Emacswiki Alternative Shutting Down

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  • by Viol8 (599362) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @07:49AM (#42724337)

    Is this serious? Its a fscking editor for gods sake. Is there a "vi community"? Who the hell cares enough to even bother? Or perhaps I'm misguided and there are thousands of people out there who find editors the most fascinating programs ever written. Is there an "ls" or "rm" community just out of interest?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Well, there's a VIVIVIth community and it worships the devil.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by joshki (152061)

      emacs is an editor? On what planet?

      As far as I recall, emacs is a conglomeration of a lot of things, one of which happens to be an editor...

    • by slim (1652)

      Is this serious? Its a fscking editor for gods sake. Is there a "vi community"?

      Emacs is an operating system, that just happens that the text editor is its highest profile app. M-x tetris loads another one.

      I never grokked Emacs. Perhaps if I'd joined the community?

    • by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @08:05AM (#42724415) Homepage

      Is there an "ls" or "rm" community just out of interest?

      There used to be an "rm" community, but it got deleted :P

      • by vlm (69642)

        There used to be an "rm" community, but it got deleted :P

        I'd link to the wikipedia article, but those deletionist aholes got to it first

      • There is even an xxcopy community :-p I've tried time and again to stop using it, but I just can't find a GUI way to do the same things.

      • by lucm (889690)

        Is there an "ls" or "rm" community just out of interest?

        There was a "fork" community but they forked so many times that they did not qualify as a community anymore.

    • I think I'd call them "rallying factions" moreso than communities.
    • by guacamole (24270) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @08:14AM (#42724457)

      Well, the issue is that vi or rm, however dear to their users are mostly viewed as a tool, a damn good one but still a tool. But Emacs really does have a caring community around it. For example, most people in the Lisp/Scheme community use Emacs, and not by coincidence. Emacs is really a miniature programming platform for developing applications written in a version of Lisp, complete with a compiler, interpreter, debugger, and a virtual machine. Emacs's text editor itself is a Lisp application. As you can imagine, Lisp people take a special pride in this.

      Next, it was already mentioned that Emacs is more than a text editor. It's almost a complete work environment. In a typical emacs session you can have multiple windows, buffers, frames open for editing multiple files, running shells, interpreters, build scripts, info sessions, etc all running at the same time.

      • by Viol8 (599362)

        "It's almost a complete work environment. In a typical emacs session you can have multiple windows, buffers, frames open for editing multiple files, running shells, interpreters, build scripts, info sessions, etc all running at the same time."

        I'm sure that was useful in 1980 before X Windows came along. But when I can have a dozen xterms open on my screen why on earth would I bother doing it all inside an editor?

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I suppose you could view is as an alternative to Gnome/KDE in that sense.

        • by jrumney (197329) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @08:55AM (#42724703) Homepage

          But when I can have a dozen xterms open on my screen why on earth would I bother doing it all inside an editor?

          When I can have a dozen ttys open on virtual consoles, why on earth would I bother doing it all inside X?

          Or more seriously, if I run a shell inside Emacs, then I have all the editing commands of Emacs at my fingertips. shell-command-on-region is an obvious one that saves a lot of head this/tail that to narrow down the part of the previous command that I want to operate on for the next command in the pipe.

          • by Viol8 (599362)

            "When I can have a dozen ttys open on virtual consoles, why on earth would I bother doing it all inside X?"

            Umm, so you can see them all at the same time.

            "if I run a shell inside Emacs, then I have all the editing commands of Emacs at my fingertips."

            Newsflash - most shells have had vi and emacs style line editing commands built in for decades.

            • by cduffy (652)

              Newsflash - most shells have had vi and emacs style line editing commands built in for decades.

              But they don't capture output, so you couldn't use them for the exact example the parent gave that you were supposedly refuting.

            • by DrVxD (184537)

              Newsflash - most shells have had vi and emacs style line editing commands built in for decades.

              Only for the input line - you can't use them on the scrollback.

              Emacs allows you to use *all* of your editing commands on the *entire* of your bash history (both your input and the output)

        • by tamyrlin (51) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @08:55AM (#42724705) Homepage
          Because there is a nice integration between the other buffers and your terminals. For example, say that you want to run a few commands in the same directory that the file you are editing exists. In that case you just type M-x shell to start a shell in that directory. (Note that this also works if you are working with a file on another computer via ssh. Your shell will then automatically start over an ssh session.)

          If you are running commands that outputs a lot of text in the terminal the search capability of emacs is really useful as well.

          Another use case is the integration between macros, text buffers, and terminals. Consider a use case where you are editing an HTML file and want to ensure that all images referred to in IMG tags are available at a remote location. It is then easy to create a macro in emacs that finds all IMG tags, extract the file name and copy the file name to a suitable scp command that you can paste into the terminal window.

          However, I must admit that I still have a few xterms open, but I find myself gravitating towards running shell commands in a shell buffer in emacs, especially when programming. Also, there are of course other ways to solve all of these issues (scripting, file redirection, etc), but for myself I usually find myself preferring to use emacs in most of these cases.
          • The big shame here is that ... the reason we need Emacs is that X (well, and UNIX) sucks. All of these things should work everywhere.

            A Lisp listener and UNIX shell are roughly equivalent; except the language provided by the Lisp shell is far more expressive. Instead of hundreds of blobs you call with arbitrary switches, piping around streams of bits disguised as strings... you have a library of tens of thousands of functions, with a sane calling convention, that document themselves interactively, etc. It ju

          • by doom (14564)

            For me it's a matter of access to my registers, rather than just "the clipboard". I've got custom commands to do stuff in dired like stash the path in register p and the current name in register n, so I can switch to a sub-shell and use those in commands without re-typing them.

            It's also nice to have access to the full kill-ring rather than just the top of it (non-emacs people: you do understand that it's silly you can only put one thing in the clipboard, right? Inside emacs you've got a stack to work wi

        • by jonadab (583620)
          > But when I can have a dozen xterms open on my screen
          > why on earth would I bother doing it all inside an editor?

          You wouldn't, if the editor were just an editor.

          However, when the other poster called Emacs "almost a complete work environment", that wasn't an exaggeration. If anything, that's an understatement. It's not for nothing that Emacs has been jokingly called an operating system. It has a good deal more functionality than some operating systems I've used. When an Emacs user says that Emacs
      • Does emacs have a built in web browser? I think they should toss in both elinks and GNOME Web (for Xemacs). Have a key that would toggle between what are Windows or tabs in Chrome, Firefox or IE. Have an RSS reader as well. Once all this is there, one can browse /. from a good ole vt100 terminal
        • by slim (1652)

          Emacs has had a built in web browser for almost as long as there has been a web to browse.

          The first web browsers were console mode, including Tim Berners Lee's WorldWideWeb. Lynx was the primary text-mode browser for years, and if the /. webmasters have been behaving themselves, and kept proper fallbacks for non-JS browsers, you should still be able to use it for /. today.

        • by DrVxD (184537)

          Does emacs have a built in web browser?

          You mean w3 [gnu.org]? (Although it's probably fair to say that it's somewhat limited when compared with the likes fo Chrome/Firefox/etc)

          Have an RSS reader as well

          Yep, Gnus RSS [emacswiki.org] handles this.

          Once all this is there, one can browse /. from a good ole vt100 terminal

          In a pinch, you can curl http://slashdot.org/ [slashdot.org] | less. I assume this is how Vim users do it ;-)

    • by water-and-sewer (612923) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @08:20AM (#42724493) Homepage

      Is this serious?

      YES.

      Is there a "vi community"?

      YES.

      Who the hell cares enough to even bother?

      Anybody who uses these powerful and complex applications. Both apps are capable of highly complicated things, and somewhere out there are talented people who know how to do them. I'm not one of them, but I'm getting there. From custom syntax highlighting to macros, scripts, and more (hell, you can use emacs to read email and/or Usenet, etc.).

      As for you, you can keep using whatever other software you like.

      • by Viol8 (599362)

        "Both apps are capable of highly complicated things,"

        Ok, so what - apart from editing - can they do better than other tools? Programming? No thanks, i'll stick to python and C++. Games? Don't make me laugh.

        So what exactly?

        • by fatphil (181876)
          I'm not one myself, but a lot of my fellow emacs-using work colleagues use emacs as their mail client.

          I do, however, use emacs' GNUS as my preferred usenet client. I first used it very briefly over 20 years ago, and have tried at least 20 other clients since, and every one has been significantly inferior to GNUS in some way.

          I also use it as my preferred wrapper around gdb. And that ``M-x gdb'' leads you to a debugger that can debug C++ programs. And python debugging is no further than ``M-x pdb'' away. That
        • by hfranz (101040)

          Google for org-mode...

        • by Darinbob (1142669)

          They can do what IDEs do. But most Emacs users wouldn't want to do what IDEs do anyway.

    • Is this serious? Its a fscking editor for gods sake. Is there a "vi community"? Who the hell cares enough to even bother? Or perhaps I'm misguided and there are thousands of people out there who find editors the most fascinating programs ever written. Is there an "ls" or "rm" community just out of interest?

      Emacs is so complex and featureful program that it merits for a community. The other programs that you mentioned (vi, ls, rm) are so simple that any discrete community is not necessary.

    • by Sockatume (732728) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @08:28AM (#42724521)

      Emacs is somewhat more sophisticated than simply an editor. If there can be communities trading tips and advice for Microsoft Office there sure as hell can be communities for Emacs.

      As a vim user I naturally don't have to talk to a community because this superior editor gives me telepathic powers and a glossy, easy-to-brush mane.

      • That's what I'm saying! All the information is there on the wiki -- you just have to sqwinky your eyes right.

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        Emacs is a programmable system designed primarily as an editor. As such it is highly customizable in a relatively straight forward way (certainly more straight forward than changing how Eclipse works by rewriting it). Most users may not do more than change default keybindings or changing some configuration settings, but some users create custom editing modes for languages not supported (and it's more powerful in this regard than vim's language mode). Because it's programmable you can do what you want, us

      • by jonadab (583620)
        > As a vim user I naturally don't have to talk to a community

        You should upgrade to vigor:
        http://vigor.sourceforge.net/

        It's a much more vigorous version of vi than vim. Pun intended.
    • by SirGarlon (845873)
      Emacs is more like a text-based IDE than "a fscking editor." People write plugins (called "macros") for it in Lisp. Back in the acoustics lab, we had several folks who had written macros for code formatting, LaTeX formatting, and the like (we had several custom extensions to the beloved matlab-mode!). We used to trade macros around, modify them, help each other troubleshoot and improve them ... good times. So yes, Emacs users are a community, and the folks who are still in that lab are probably still part o
    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      It's a cult. Join us. Gooble gobble, one of us, one of us!

      • by DrVxD (184537)

        We accept you - one of us!

        (Damn you /. - where's "+1 Freaks reference" when I need it :-)

    • by jonadab (583620)
      Emacs is "an editor" in roughly the same sense that the Pacific Ocean is "a swimming pool". I mean, yes, people swim in the Pacific, and people use Emacs to edit text files. That's true, as far as it goes. It is not, however, a particularly good characterization of the thing.

      It would be somewhat more accurate to say that Emacs is a highly customizable fully programmable interactive context-aware editing environment, but that's still a gross understatement, and it's not very succinct.

      Emacs is Emacs. Ther
      • by rpresser (610529)

        Yes, and swimming pools are kept clean while the Pacific Ocean contains dangerous predators and sometimes raw sewage. No thank you.

        • by jonadab (583620)
          Yes, but Emacs doesn't load modules you aren't using, so you never have to worry about the dangerous predators or the raw sewage unless you choose to deliberately activate them. (Does Emacs have dangerous predators and raw sewage? Probably. It has everything else.)
  • It's true that the "good old" EmacsWiki looks way too old. But to be honest I didn't even know that WikEmacs existed.

    I probably, like many, did miss the memo. That's too bad because I just took a look and it looked much better.

    • I'm in the same boat. I love EmacsWiki though, and reference it often.
      Did work with headless, virtualized Linux nodes accessed via RDP into a Windows server. Everyone's all whining about the security policies, and all.
      I slap in a PuTTY distro and Emacs, fix and environment variable, and I'm in there via Tramp Mode [emacswiki.org] like it won't nothin' but a thang.
      The other biggie is Org mode [emacswiki.org], a full outlining tool that is mainly driven by the tab key. For doing admin work, it pays heap big dividends to take a lot of not
      • by DrVxD (184537)

        I will admit to using Aquamacs [emacswiki.org] on OS-X.

        +1

        And yes, for you vi girls, Emacs does have emulation modes. *sigh*

        (defalias 'lobotomize-my-editor 'viper-mode)

  • by lemur3 (997863) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @08:18AM (#42724469)

    ok now i feel better..

    i hate missing parantheses!

    • Yeah, seriously, it makes me wince each time it happens. Most of the time I'm too lazy to edit Wikipedia pages, but when it comes to parentheses, I feel utterly compelled to.

      And I even changed the title of this answer so that there isn't an excess closing parenthesis.

    • That's why his Emacs wiki never took off: His Lisp syntax was bad!

  • by vovick (1397387) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @08:30AM (#42724529)

    Shutting down in less than a year because the project got too little attention is foolish as it takes years for most users to discover you. I had no idea it existed, if I knew, I would have tried it as I do believe that EmacsWiki has a fair amount of problems. Shutting down and dragging down all content and time that users were willing to contribute is just ridiculously irresponsible. EmacsWiki may not be perfect, but it has been around for years and I am fairly confident that the owner will not decide to shut it down tomorrow or next year on a whim like this guy.

    • by SirGarlon (845873)

      Don't be so harsh. It's perfectly reasonable to shut down a project if it doesn't succeed on the schedule the organizer wants. It would be more foolish to continue to invest in the forked project after realizing it was a mistake at the outset.

    • by bozhidar (2827439) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @08:50AM (#42724657)
      I'm not shutting down the project on a whim, a lot of thought and discussions with members of Emacs community are involved in it. The content will be preserved on EmacsWiki and I'll continue to work with Alex and the other members of the EmacsWiki team to (hopefully) improve and clean it up.
      • I'm sad to hear that this wiki (that I didn't even know existed) is shutting down.

        I've never even heard of WikiEmacs, but I wish I had. A MediaWiki site about Emacs sounds like a perfect match. Maybe lots of other Emacs users would become contributors if they knew it existed. Of all wiki systems, I've found MediaWiki sites to be much more likely to become well maintained and navigable.

        I hope WikiEmacs doesn't shut down. I'll probably become a regular contributor.

      • by vovick (1397387)

        I dug more deeply into your posts and see now that you planned your wiki as a temporal experiment from the very beginning (and quite explicitly said so). It's great that you intend to preserve the user-created data as well, so nothing of value will be lost. Still, I think your project would have grown much more popular in a few years if you didn't give up and gave some sort of a pledge that it won't be shut down in a year or two. Anyway, thank you for your attempt in improving this valuable source of inform

      • by Anonymous Coward

        You tried and failed. The lesson is, never try.

      • Maybe the pages could be moved to the libreplanet.org wiki that FSF hosts.

        It's a Mediawiki site, and there's already a community of contributors and a big portion are surely Emacs users. How about it?

    • "'... EmacsWiki has a fair amount of problems ..." Actually, I don't think it has any problems at all compared to a lot of other wikis out there. My big complaint is that it doesn't seem to have any google-juice to speak of, so if you do a websearch on a problem you're not immediately steered to the right EmacsWiki page.
      • If you have any SEO ideas, let me know. :)
        • by doom (14564)
          I'm (thankfully) not an expert in SEO, but my thought would be to put up an "index" page that links to every other page, and request the emacs community to link to that page from their own.
  • Of course the emacs wiki is outdated and disorganized - it has to reflect its editor and its users. We here in the organized, efficient and beautiful vi community just sit back with a condescending chuckle. We're actually quite good at that and do it often. :wq
  • Well what kind of organization did you expect from people who came up with 17 different kinds of keyboard shift keys?

  • by nomadic (141991)
    A lesser-known alternative to something that itself I've never heard of? Fascinating!
  • by fuzzywig (208937)
    personally I'm happy with nano.
    *ducks*
  • The problem here... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pongo000 (97357) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @12:41PM (#42727467)

    ...is the decision to go with MW. Seriously. Look at WikiEmacs [wikemacs.org], then at EmacsWiki [emacswiki.org]. The main problem with WikiEmacs (the MW version) is that you are forced to read the content in order to find what it is you need. Compare that to EmacsWiki: Links are clearly defined, not embedded in a lot of cruft, and describe exactly what it is that the link points to.

    I've said this before: MW is overbloated and has a horrible UI, to the point where navigating most MW sites are excruciatingly painful. Anyone who thinks that MW is actually a user-friendly experience that promotes quick and easy navigation and drill-down is obviously a glutton for punishment and knows nothing about proper UI design.

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