Re: [Usability] the emacs keyboard shortcut issue

On Sun, 2004-10-10 at 16:31 -0400, Havoc Pennington wrote:
> On Sun, 2004-10-10 at 12:45 +0200, Sunnan wrote:
> > They're so often overridden! While only a few apps (like Sound-Juicer)
> > dare mess with basics like C-a and C-d (since the HIG says not to), it
> > seems very common to override C-f, C-b, C-p and C-n. I don't know how
> > many times I've popped up a "Find" or "Print" dialog by mistake.
> Control+letter shortcuts are a scarce commodity, they shouldn't be used
> for something arrow keys already do. Even many Emacs users (such as
> myself) don't use those over the arrow keys.

Really?  All the emacs users I interact with (including me) are pretty
much completely trained on those keybindings.  The arrow keys aren't
anywhere near home row.  I certainly can't touch type with them.

> This is also an area where we can get easy familiarity to Windows users.
> > I've tried out Mac OS X (which overall is kinda crackrock IMVHO) a
> > couple of times, and this is one thing they do right; all application
> > shortcuts use the command key for shortcuts, while ctrl is reserved
> > for emacs stuff in text input fields. (They even implement C-t,
> > transpose characters.)
> We can't rely on such a key existing since we don't sell hardware,
> though.
> > In many old Unix apps, before the "windowsication" that began with
> > KDE/Gnome, Alt was often used as a shortcut prefix key. (C.f. Netscape
> > 4.x) Reverting to that would be one possible solution.
> Can't do that because Alt is standard for access keys. (The underlined
> letters in labels are used with Alt)
> Grab the keybindings table and start trying to make changes, note how
> changing one keynav aspect will virtually always break another one,
> since we're using nearly all the keys for something. So you change one
> thing and break another thing and have to break another thing to fix
> that, and so forth.
> App authors really need stability in this table, too, or they can't
> choose good nonconflicting bindings for their app.

Basically, I agree with everything.  We've chosen Control for shortcuts
and Alt for accelerators, and changing that would be a bad idea.  And
there aren't enough letters to give a dozen of them to movement commands
with Control.

But couldn't we set up eamcs-like keybindings on Super?  Nothing that I
know of is really using that (except Metacity with the mouse, but that
won't conflict), and that gives us a solution much like what OS X does.
Sure, we can't guarantee that keyboards will have a key for Super, and
so we shouldn't use it for shortcuts or accelerators.  But these are
non-essential keybindings.  If you really want them, you can jolly well
get a keyboard with another modifier key or remap your current keyboard.

FWIW, this is how I have Mathematica set up, and it works well for me.


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