Sometime back I wrote about how eclipse seems to be the multi-paradigm do-everything have-everything editor with some cool features that even the mighty emacs lacks or doesn’t do it in such intuitive ways. Well guess what? RMS thinks so too!
Emacs, for those who know me, I am an big fan of, almost to the point of being religious. And and recently I’ve found another one – Eclipse. Emacs, as most would know is the ultimate editor that is written in a dialect of lisp called elisp (which predates attempts to standardize lisp and common lisp) – was the result of a time and a place where almost every programmer wrote lisp, AI was a buzzword and Symbolics was a household name.
Thus, emacs, naturally was written in the language of its time – lisp. With over 3o years behind its belt, emacs is now a mature multipurpose software application that most people go to the extent of calling it an operating system. The things that made emacs such a huge success story was not only was it written in lisp, the language of the day, it was also extensible in lisp, the language that most programmers who first used emacs knew. Thus, every pet-peeve of almost every programmer was solvable with just a few lines of elisp. Extensibility – Thats what made emacs a huge success. With packages for everything from terminal emulation, remote editing, newsreaders and even a web browser – Emacs is one multipurpose software application.
With, the coming of the AI winter, lisp lost ground and eventually gave way to Java. Java, being severely used in the past 10-20 years has become the lingua franca of the time. And, with Java we have another emacs incarnate, something that’s not only written in Java, also extensible in Java – eclipse. It has the same extensibility as emacs has , though not as mature in terms of extensions as emacs. So, Is Eclipse the next emacs?
Even though Orkut – google’s social networking website neither has the market share or the mindshare rivalling that of Facebook or MySpace, google’s ingenuity never ceases to amaze me. So, what am I talking about? Orkut’s new feature which integrates multiple languages and lets you mix and match as you wish – with nothing more than a simple keystroke
For all those who want to type in thamizh, thanglish or plain old english, orkut can do it in a very “google” fashion with simple phonetic typing, ajaxy pop-up suggestions and switching languages with just one keystroke.
Here is an example of what I am saying and what other “multi-lingual” word processors should emulate .If they get this into google docs, I am thinking its pretty much a done deal for a lot of people who are stuck with a latin keyboard shoe-horned to fit languages that just aren’t immediately compatible with languages like tamizh.
Here is how it looks.
If you look at it, not only does it let you type tamizh in a phonetic sense, it also does away with the problems most phonetic typing schemes have when they are dealing with languages like tamil which have more liquids than I care to count, by simply using a well tested UI idiom – pop up suggestions. Its amazing that they do this in realtime in a web interface.
This is precisely what every one wants. No one, ever actually uses a tamizh all the time. Most of modern Tamizh’s vocabulary is approximately 20% English. And, people can ‘scrap’ (orkut’s equivalent to facebook’s wall). each other just the way they would talk in real life. And all it takes to switch between the two is a simple keystroke.
So, Kudos to Google.
This is in continuation of this post, so for any background and a general introduction of my point of view on this subject take a look there.
My thoughts when I initially wrote the previous post, where much unclear – a bit foggy and nebulous. Now, I believe that I have a more concrete version, or at least one that is a little less foggy. My study of the fundamentals of computer science has grounded my faith in the fact that this is as fundamental a science, as much as physics or mathematics, if not more. Computer Science studies things that can be computed by beings of finite resources – be they humans made of meat and bone or be automatons constructed of metal and electricity.
It is the study of what is possible in a finite universe. The nature of truths privy to us – beings of finite resources. What can be efficiently computed and what cannot. These are the fundamental questions of computer science. How hard is really hard? Are there easy ways to get around the hardness of problems? These questions are what a people who work on the frontiers of the body of theory that make up computer science ponder about. And unlike the esoterica of mathematics or the alienated theories of physics – The questions that computer science endeavors to answer have bearing on the real world.
From improving the efficiencies of every day corporations to fundamental questions about the market – questions that have plagued economists for decades, with the tools of computer science are within our sights. Our approximations to what cannot be answered precisely can be given limits of error. It gives us the tools to tell, if we are not at the truth, at least how far are we from it. From the fundamental building blocks of all life – DNA to questions about the most refined form of human intellect, Language. All are now under the sights of computation. What nature does and what can nature do? The ultimate limits of reality and our perception. All answers to these questions have their answers inside of computer science.
This article would require an entire book to be written, but for now, I shall contend my self with writing small expository examples via posts here, of the tall claims that I’ve made in the previous paragraph.
It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything here. So, just to get back my “writing” spirit and please the gods of the blog world, here I am with something that many might find mildly funny.
Anyone who has used emacs enough would have automatically got into the habbit of typing C-x C-s, to save whatever it is that is in their buffer. But if you have used it as much as I’ve, then you would have gotten into the habbit of doing this so often, that you do it unconciously, whenever you are near any sort of keyboard. Infact I was totally oblivious to it untill a friend pointed it out.
The response is automatic, reflexive and almost uncontrollable, just like Tourette’s syndrome just for those who have used emacs – an Emacs Tourette’s Syndrome.