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Re: Customizing the mode line

From: joakim
Subject: Re: Customizing the mode line
Date: Fri, 30 Oct 2009 16:01:42 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/23.1.50 (gnu/linux)

Eli Zaretskii <address@hidden> writes:

> Do we have some convenient UI for customizing the mode line?  The user
> manual doesn't mention any.
> I frequently find myself in a situation where the information that's
> important to me is pushed beyond the right edge of the mode line, and
> is thus invisible.  Annoyingly, a large part of the real estate of the
> mode line is taken by information that is much less important, like
> the percentage of the file before the window start and the list of
> minor modes in effect.  The latter, for example, is quite static in
> any given buffer, so once you saw it for the first time, there's no
> need to continue showing it in such a central place.  However, even in
> a C buffer, the mode shown is "C/l Abbrev", which is quite long.  And
> when I read mail, I see something like "RMAIL XXXX/YYYY answered,
> deleted"; when replying to mail it's "Mail Fly Abbrev Fill", etc.
> These are very long strings that I don't need to see all the time,
> because they almost never change.  But they steal too much precious
> space.
> By contrast, dynamic information such as the current time, the system
> load, the battery condition, the mail indicator, the current function
> (when in which-func-mode), etc. -- these are banished off the edge of
> the mode line, and cannot be consulted.  This effectively makes these
> features unavailable, unless one is willing to make her frames
> unreasonably wide or even full-screen.
> I consider this a bad misfeature.  What's more, modifying what's in
> the mode line is not an easy task (unless I'm missing something): it
> boils down to reading bindings.el and manually setting various parts
> of standard-mode-line-* variables to remove or rearrange what is
> shown.
> Can we make the mode line display more ergonomic, or at least more
> customizable?  Should I file a "wish-list" bug for this?

One thing adding to the problem is that a lot of information is repeated
in all modelines, where they could really live separately in a special
status window.

I tried adding functions to help with this problem, for instance the
"window groups" patch that let you keep a window on screen, that could
keep status info. This is currently unfinished.

Currently I just use this instead:

;; modeline-depopulator
;;test little hack to see info in msg area
;;TODO  lan status
(require 'battery)
(require 'timeclock)
(defun modeline-depopulator ()
  (message "%s\n%s\n%s"
           (format-time-string "%H:%M %Y-%m-%d" (current-time))
           (battery-format battery-echo-area-format (funcall
(global-set-key [f5] 'modeline-depopulator)

I press f5 when I want to know something I dont need to know all the
time, like time and date, time spent in a project, and battery status.

It is not distracting and it does in fact work surprisingly well.

Joakim Verona

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