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> in terms of software UX, I would say plain text should be used as a starting point while adding interactive elements (e.g., buttons) and layouts only as necessary. By layouts I mean visual separation of categorized information via whitespace and/or color variations. I've found that this results in extremely intuitive interfaces that are both easy for users to digest and developers to maintain.

Is there any software that you think stands out as an example of this approach?






Emacs is exactly this. People usually think it's an editor, but I actually think it's better to regard it as the remains of a text-mode Lisp Machine that now happens to be a VM.

In particular, Org leads to very nice and simple text-mode workflows and mini applications. Besides, apparently Amazon used a custom Emacs application (not Org-based) in the early days to do customer service [1].

I actually very much prefer it to Unix ncurses applications, which tend to be little information silos. In contrast, Emacs makes it really easy to connect everything together thanks to great Elisp APIs. It feels like a really cohesive environment. Unix shines for non-interactive workflows.

I like doing my computing in 3 (actually 4 platforms): Emacs, a browser (Firefox), a terminal (XTerm) and F-Droid. That, plus a nice manual tiling WM (StumpWM) and functional plumbing (NixOS) is a great simple setup.

For example, a good keyboard, no compositor and XTerm reduces latency a lot vs more complex desktop environments. It's really noticeable.

[1] https://sites.google.com/site/steveyegge2/tour-de-babel


> In contrast, Emacs makes it really easy to connect everything together thanks to great Elisp APIs.

Elisp APIs and your standard editing commands (which are of course the pieces of Elisp that happen to be bound to keypresses). The difference between this and ncurses/other TUIs is profound - as you said, typical TUIs are data silos, just painting characters on the screen. Whereas in Emacs, all the text on the screen is accessible for search, navigation, copying, and even modification.

Even saying "Elisp APIs" doesn't do it justice; Emacs follows the best traditions of Lisp Machines - you can inspect and modify software at runtime, and make it do what you want it to do, whether it wants it or not. If an Emacs mode (i.e. essentially an Emacs app) doesn't provide some functionality, you can add it either way. Want to use pretty third-party autocomplete like Helm for e-mail addresses in To: field in your Emacs mail client, and want it to pull suggestions from some arbitrary .org file you use as an address book? No problem at all. Few lines of code and it just works.


That's right, API is not something I should have used for Elisp. The only thing that compares is Smalltalk in terms of being a live environment.

The downside is security. You need to trust everything you run, because as you say it's so open and inter-winded.




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