Hi Dirk and ESS-help:

It is a slow nice day on ESS-help so I will entertain a debate.
Nice to see that my old friend Dirk has not frozen solid.
The thermometer has recently explored some rare territory.
However, I have to respectfully disagree.  I didn�t feel such a
commitment to progress when I wanted to add multi-way
arrays to Rcpp

RcppArmadillo seems like overkill here when this can be
accomplished in relatively few lines of Rcpp (and even
fewer if Rcpp supported it).  But, I don�t want to fight
with Dirk over Rcpp.  I can honestly say that Rcpp has had
a bigger impact on my career than ESS so I treasure it
even if I don�t always agree.  Beyond that I consider
myself a data scientist, not a computer scientist.  So,
I leave it up to Dirk and Rcpp core to decide what is best
(they are far more likely to be right than me).

Yet, I definitely part ways with the recent Emacs upgrades.
As far as I can tell, ESS is far more compliant with version
26 than 27 or 28.  Certainly, part of this might be our
fault as ESS developers.  But, I don�t understand why some
of the changes in 27 were necessary.  Why do we have
to set a keydef to nil for some keys before we can give
them a new definition?  This was not a problem for
earlier releases.  Furthermore, presumably, this is not
a bug since the same �feature� appears in 28 as well.
How are we supposed to determine these mysterious
magic keys?  Since it is not evident, we have to unset
any key before assigning it a keydef otherwise it is a no-op.
I don�t see a rationale for this direction.

Also, Emacs has become more difficult to compile
particularly on macOS.  Even 26, is not convenient to
compile with an R friendly tool chain.  27 and 28 are
no better.  So, gone are the days when I could compile
Emacs myself.  Now I am stuck with using binary
distributions which makes debugging more challenging
as well.  Therefore, I see the line of progress leading
to the very stable and friendly 26 has stagnated even
as the release schedule for 27 and 28 has sped up.
So, I have one machine with 26 and one with a
menagerie of 26, 27 and 28 installed for testing
(spurring my commentary).  I use Emacs every day and
I�m not particularly that bothered by this lack of progress.
But, I sincerely hope that we are turning a corner
and 29 will be a better experience for ESS with
no magic keys, etc.

Thanks to all for their support of ESS especially
my fellow developers who give their time so freely!

Rodney Sparapani, Associate Professor of Biostatistics
Director for the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Statistical Association
Institute for Health and Equity, Division of Biostatistics
Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Campus

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