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Re: C-l while in menu?

From: Robert J. Chassell
Subject: Re: C-l while in menu?
Date: Thu, 25 Apr 2002 12:00:21 +0000 (UTC)

   ... the key of a PC keyboard
   labeled "Alt" pressed in combination with the underlined menu letter
   must display the menu.

This does not make sense.  It is like saying that you should use the
left hand key labeled `Ctrl' as a control key.  

On the keyboard that I am typing on now, the left hand key labeled
`Ctrl' is to the left of the key labled `Alt', and is in a very
awkward position.  No one who uses the key in that position as a
control key will ever like Emacs.  That control key position is too

Surely, you bind keys by default so that key to the left of the key
labeled `A' becomes the control key?  (On my keyboard, that key is
labeled `Caps Lock'.)

Am I right in thinking that you explain this?  (Also, am I right in
thinking that you explain that the `Return' key may not have a
`Return' label on it, but may be labeled in some other way?)

The pop-up menu binding issue is similar:  a newbie may come from a
background in which he or she assumes that bindings are hard coded,
rather than variable.  Morover, the newbie may think that a key
labeled `Caps Lock' turns on uppercase letters, as in an old, manual
typewriter!  No one using computers has needed such a key for 25
years, yet we still see the label!

As for solutions:

I can imagine a default binding in which the key to the right of the
space bar operates a menu and the key to the left of the space bar is
meta.  On my keyboard both keys are labeled `Alt'.  

While I don't use a menu nowadays, I remember vividly how helpful a
menu was back in 1984 when I was learning.  The menu feature helped me
transition from an inefficient newbie who always moved the mouse to a
more efficient person who mostly keeps my fingers on the keyboard.  (I
learned to use the mouse only when it actually is appropriate for the
job -- usually to move to a quite different spot on the screen.  I
also learned how time consuming it is to press a key labeled `Esc'
when that key is more than a centimeter or two from the other keys I
regularly press.)

   .... I'd appreciate a configuration option saying "use Alt plus
   underlined letter to activate a menu or a menue entry". ....

As stated, this will not make sense to a novice.  Learners do not
necessarily know the difference between keybindings and key labels.
They will not know know whether you are referring to the `Alt' key
binding or to one of the keys labeled `Alt'.

The human factors issue is how to explain to a novice the difference
between keybindings and key labels, and then to explain the default

The beginning of the Tutorial does not explain this well; it leaves
people thinking that key labels point to key bindings:

    Emacs commands generally involve the CONTROL key (sometimes
    labeled CTRL or CTL) or the META key (sometimes labeled EDIT or

That is not good.  How about coming up with a better explanation?
Here is a more wordy alternative that could be used as a starting

    Emacs commands generally involve the CONTROL key or the META key.

    Sometimes the CONTROL key is labeled CTRL or CTL; at other times it is
    labeled differently:  often as CAPS LOCK.  

    Almost always, the CONTROL key is the key to left of the key that
    inserts the letter A or a.  Similarly, META key may be labeled
    META; but it may be labeled EDIT or ALT or something else.
    Usually, the META key is the key immediately to the left of the

    Robert J. Chassell                  address@hidden
    Rattlesnake Enterprises             http://www.rattlesnake.com

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