1341: Types of Editors

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Types of Editors
m-x machineofdeath-mode
Title text: m-x machineofdeath-mode


WYSIWYG, pronounced, "whizz-ee-whig", is an acronym that stands for "What you see is what you get". In regards to computers, it refers to text editors in which the user can see exactly what will be published as he is typing it.

The comic compares various types of editors. A WYSIWYG editor displays the edited document in its final, typically printed, form. The next type, WYSIN(not)WYG, is similar to an HTML source editor, where you enter raw HTML code and are (in a different view) presented with the rendered appearance of the page.

The WYSITUTWYG ("... is totally unrelated to ...") editor apparently takes your input and proceeds to ignore it entirely, instead displaying totally unrelated words.

Finally, the WYSIHYD ("... is how you die") "editor" is not an editor at all, but a terrible, terrible pun on the multiple meanings of the word "get": If you see "eaten by wolves", you will get ... eaten by wolves. This effect and the white-on-black writing is probably a reference to the anime Death Note.

The text editor used in this very wiki's page editor is of the "not what you get" variety.

The title text takes the joke one step further. It is a fictitious command to the highly extensible Emacs text editor. A well-known comment about Emacs is that "it is a pretty good operating system, all it lacks is a good editor". In fact, Emacs is a runtime environment for the Lisp programming language; the main application present in that environment is the editor. Emacs operates in various "modes", which are customizations for specific purposes, like editing plain text, e-mail, source code in any of hundreds of languages, operating heavy machinery, etc. Placing Emacs into "Machine of Death" mode would turn it into a WYSIHYD editor (or maybe it would just kill the user?). "M-x" is Emacs-way of saying "hold down meta key, press x, release meta key", and meta is normally mapped to Alt key. Don't know why xkcd uses "m-x" instead of "M-x". And no, that particular mode does not exist at least on Emacs 23.2.1.


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The horse is a noble animal; refers to this? http://www.marciafarquhar.com/artwork/the-horse-is-a-noble-animal/ --NSDCars5 (talk) 13:40, 14 March 2014 (UTC)NSDCars5

Title text and last frame are a reference to the book "Machine of Death", a collection of short stories in which a machine can tell a person a word, that is in some way related to how they will die. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Incidentally, Munroe himself wrote a story in that anthology. Apparently, it was titled "?" Has anyone read it? 08:14, 12 March 2014 (UTC)

SPOILER ALERT In the machine of death story from Randal the protagonist struggles with the fact the machine can predict death, it does not fit his world picture. He decides the only way to win is not to play so he never reads his slip of paper and goes to work starting fires to form an huge question mark. In the end he decides to stay in one place to ether die there from hunger and thirst or any other way. He hopes the slip of paper says "murder" instead of anything else as in the machine murdered him. /SPOILER ALERT (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

There are also WYSIWYM editors: "what you see is what you mean", where editor marks the content according to its meaning (e.g. section title), but not necessarily exactly as it would appear in presentation. The main advantage of this system is the total separation of presentation and content. Examples include LyX, FrameMaker, WYMeditor, CodeMirror. --JakubNarebski (talk) 08:44, 12 March 2014 (UTC)

And let's not forget WYGIWYG (wiggywig), "What you get is what you get" A joking reference to the imperfection of certain well-known word processors. At this moment, someone out there is writing a machineofdeath-mode for Emacs. Jim E (talk) 16:07, 12 March 2014 (UTC)

Anyone know that "horse" reference? It sounds familiar but I can't place it. 16:34, 12 March 2014 (UTC)

I don't know if it's relevant, but there's a sculpture titled "The Horse is a Noble Animal". [1][2] Wwoods (talk) 19:18, 12 March 2014 (UTC)

What about Death Note? Sounds a bit like WYSIHYD is a nerfed version of the Death Note. -- 17:12, 12 March 2014 (UTC)

It's just a correlation. 17:16, 12 March 2014 (UTC)
Are you Randall? If not, you do not know that. 01:53, 13 March 2014 (UTC)
I vote to add a reference in a Trivia section, as I've seen Trivias here deviating that much. 04:34, 1 March 2015 (UTC)

I think this needs an incomplete flag. It doesn't make a clear distinction between the comic and the real-world context, and the latter isn't sufficiently explained. --Mynotoar (talk) 18:15, 12 March 2014 (UTC)

Was my indentation of the transcript too much? I thought it added to the understanding of the layout and flow. Jarod997 (talk) 12:38, 13 March 2014 (UTC)

I can't believe that no one has made a WYSITUTWYG editor on the internet yet, given that there are already hell tetris machines. Hppavilion1 (talk) 04:22, 14 August 2014 (UTC)

WYSIHYD reminds me of the "goto" programmer getting attacked by a velociraptor http://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/292 18:20, 16 May 2015 (UTC)

HORSE reference

Preeeeeeeeetty certain this refers to the briefly famous, rather bizarre "Horse eBooks" twitter account which was presumably set up as some kind of Markov-chain based quotation engine intended to promote the service by spewing out famous phrases from the books in their collection, but instead ended up generating all kinds of amusing nonsense, much of it on the subject of equines. It may or may not still be operating ... I don't twitter much, so finding out will take a moment or two... (gets curious, actually checks)

...well, it's still there, but it hasn't updated in a while: [[3]] ... 09:08, 20 May 2015 (UTC)

I just put together this comic in real life. LINK: http://1314.fluffycraft.net/ Check it out!!!! 03:21, 20 April 2016 (UTC) Gus

How I pronouce them: wizz-ee-wig wizz-en-wig wizz-etut-wig wizz-ee-hid Awoo is legal | (you can't) change my mind (talk) 22:09, 2 October 2018 (UTC)