Re: [Usability] gnome-terminal shortcuts

On Sat, 24 Dec 2005, Elijah Newren wrote:

> Date: Sat, 24 Dec 2005 08:41:10 -0700
> From: Elijah Newren <newren gmail com>
> To: Joachim Noreiko <jnoreiko yahoo com>
> Cc: usability gnome org, Olav Vitters <olav bkor dhs org>
> Subject: Re: [Usability] gnome-terminal shortcuts
> On 12/23/05, Joachim Noreiko <jnoreiko yahoo com> wrote:
> >
> > --- Olav Vitters <olav bkor dhs org> wrote:
> >
> > > On Fri, Dec 23, 2005 at 11:32:16PM +0100, Tomasz
> > > Janowitz wrote:
> > > > I have a question regarding gnome-terminal
> > > shortcuts, namely: what are the
> > > > 'shift's standing for ? Wouldn't it be easier to
> > > have them as in other apps
> > > > ? 'ctrl+t' - new tab, 'ctrl+q' - quit terminal.
> > >
> > > There shortcuts can be used by applications running
> > > within
> > > gnome-terminal. If gnome-terminal had such a
> > > shortcut, you couldn't use
> > > it in the application (e.g. vim) anymore.
> >
> > It still violates the HIG though.
> Hmm....  I've always seen the HIG as something designed to make user
> interfaces more intuitive.  So, I find your claims about a tool
> designed almost completely for efficiency and power over intuitiveness

To borrow a phrase the terminal needs usability work "like a fish needs a

Honestly though efficiency is just as much a part of usability.
Usability is making sure we provide the right tool to the right audience.
Normally that means providing an easy to learn tool beginners can pick up
easily but more advanced users are comfortable with but there is room to
improve the usability of the terminal too.  (Although as "Desktop"
enviroment I'd consider the command line the last priority and be far more
interested in applications with full blown Graphical User Interfaces.
Also I long ago gave up on any terminal besides Xterm, because speed and
stability was non-negotiable.)

> (which is how I view the command line), stating that it doesn't follow
> guidelines on being intuitive, quite humorous.  The claim is
> absolutely true and there's definitely nothing wrong with it, I guess
> I'm just easily amused.  :-)

I'd like to try and make the command line more consistent and HIG
compliant but for me it is essential to be able to cancel things using

What might work is more menu items, it could help discoverability for one
thing to put essential features like "Kill" in the menus.  But if you
provide a menu item how can you also help learnability?  Perhaps then we
could negotiate the keybindings?  Also if all applications provided a
suitable "accells" file then we could set good defaults but give a little
bit more flexibility to those who want to change things (and I think it is
perfectly reasonable to expect a command line user to manually edit a
configuration file).

Recently I've been thinking why there is no open source alternative to
putty* or winscp?  Perhaps the terminal menus could include a menu item
"Connect..." and display a dialog for SSH?  There are probably more things
which the menus could do to help with discoverability.

Those are just random musings (and I expect a properly configured
gnome-vfs could help with the SCP support) but if you were determined to
work on it I'm sure there is a whole lot which could be done to improve
the usability of the command line.

To turn things around the other way for a moment I wish we had a way to
string together GUI applications like how pipe allows us to string
together command line applications.  I may only be a reluctant user of the
command line but I'm no fool and I understand the power and flexibility it
can provide.  I love how "apropos"  suggests alternative applications (if
your man pages are any good) and I'd love to see a simliar feature for GUI

There is plenty out there to explore.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Alan Horkan


P.S. Any typos should be blamed on "festive cheer"

* I do miss the convenience of having profiles saved like putty does but
maybe I should just write myself a good alias file.

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