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RE: Emacs for new users

From: Drew Adams
Subject: RE: Emacs for new users
Date: Tue, 24 Nov 2009 10:03:15 -0800

> >> For beginners I think it would be good if when minibuffer is active
> >> clicking in other windows did not work. Or moving to 
> >> another window in any other way.
> >
> > Why? What possible reason could you have for such a suggestion?
> >
> > That would totally prevent using the mouse to interact with 
> > other buffers during minibuffer input. You wouldn't even be
> > able to choose a completion from *Completions* using the mouse.
> Sorry, you are right. I did not think of that kind of use.
> What I meant was that they should not be allowed to leave the
> minibuffer and go to another window. This is similar to how many GUI
> programs work.

I understand and understood. You didn't mean *Completions* (which is another
window, BTW). I didn't either.

It's important (to me) that users be able to interact normally with Emacs while
the minibuffer is active, that is, as normally as possible except for whatever
the minibuffer must modify wrt behavior.

I do not want to see minibuffer inputting become something strictly modal that
locks you into some restricted dialog. Users should be able to go anywhere and
do pretty much anything while the minibuffer is active.

> In some cases there are clever uses of other windows, for example the
> one you mentioned. Such use should of course be allowed. (It is more
> difficult to make that kind of use easy in Emacs since we can't for
> example mark visually which window to interact with and which to not.
> This is otherwise what many GUI applications do.)

I do not want to in any way restrict "which window to interact with" during
minibuffer input. Pretty much the only thing the minibuffer being active should
change is the set of keybindings that are current in the minibuffer itself.

The minibuffer can be active without the minibuffer being the current buffer.
Think of the minibuffer being active as you would think of the debugger being
active. When you are in the debugger buffer or the minibuffer buffer, certain
key bindings and behavior are in effect. But nothing prevents you from doing
things (pretty much anything) elsewhere. And you can have recursive minibuffers
and recursive debuggers.

It seems like you are thinking of the minibuffer in a very restricted way, akin
to modal dialog box. It is not modal in that way and should not be.

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