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bug#2588: 23.0.90; Man buffer improperly formatted - wrong width

From: Drew Adams
Subject: bug#2588: 23.0.90; Man buffer improperly formatted - wrong width
Date: Sun, 8 Mar 2009 09:23:31 -0700

> > AFAICS, we started setting COLUMNS in the environment 
> > because on some GNU/Linux system, under X, not setting
> > it would result in over-long lines.  To avoid that with
> > pop-up-frames, we could set COLUMNS to the
> > value 80.  For a frame that is not yet created, 80 sounds like a
> > better default than the width of some other frame/window.
> Right, and this handles the case where the selected frame is 
> abnormally wide.  But suppose the selected frame is the normal
> width, and has a width of 200.  The default-to-80-columns
> would do the wrong thing.
> I think we could use default-frame-alist to guess the number 
> of columns.

No, no, no. What is the wrong thing is to guess the number of text columns based
on *any* window or frame value - either from an existing window or frame, or
from a default alist.

As you yourself stated correctly (perhaps without meaning to):
"The width of a pop-up frame has, in general, nothing to do with the
default value of COLUMNS".

Please do not set COLUMNS to any value that is designed for frames - that
includes `default-frame-alist'. COLUMNS is about buffer text formatting, not
about frame sizing.

The formatting width for the `Man' buffer, like that of for the *Help* buffer or
the *Apropos* buffer or others, should have *nothing to do* with the width of
any window or frame parameter - existing or default.

Use either: (1) a user preference designed specifically for formatting the `Man'
buffer text (e.g. `Man-width') or, barring that, (2) a user preference designed
for formatting buffer text generally (e.g. `fill-column') or, barring that, (3)
a hard-coded value (e.g. 80) intended for buffer text formatting (not for window
or frame sizing).

Please do not use any value designed for windows or frames. They are irrelevant
and can only be a nuisance here.

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