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RE: describe-bindings: ^L, bad order, naming

From: Drew Adams
Subject: RE: describe-bindings: ^L, bad order, naming
Date: Thu, 10 Nov 2005 13:27:43 -0800

    describe-bindings separates the different groups with  ^L even though
    the text that is output is intended to be human-readable.

    Isn't there a nicer way the groups can be separated?

    I also get a long list with latin key characters that are bound to
    That's rather annoying. If this needs to be listed (why?), it should
    come at the end.
    As a novice user when trying out the describe-bindings function, I
    would see that there is a lot of uninteresting technical stuff at the
    beginning, so I would get rid of the window and try something else
    (like annoying people with questions in news groups...).
    And that happens with a function that is of great use, especially to
    new Emacs users.

    Couldn't there be a list of all groups in the beginning, with links
    going to the bindings belonging to the group?
    Or ideally, a list of all groups with a widget on each group that
    expands the group to show the full list of bindings?

    Lastly, I was wondering if one could use a better name for the menu
    "List Key Bindings" is of course perfectly correct from an Emacs
    terminology point of view. But as a new user, I would be looking for
    something like "Keyboard Functions" or "Keyboard Shortcuts" or so,
    not for "Bindings".

    The Help menu is really important and useful to newbies. It would be
    very helpful if one could make it easier to understand.

Good suggestions, all.

I wonder a bit about the last suggestion, however. It's true that menu items
are the one place where we've substituted some common terminology (e.g.
Paste) for Emacs jargon (e.g. Yank), but I'm not sure if the intention was
to do this everywhere in Emacs menus.

Clearest might be a short description that bridges the two namings - e.g.
"Paste (Yank)", but again, should we do that everywhere? It could be
cumbersome and overly complex. In the present case we might use "List
Keyboard Shortcuts (Bindings)", but that is a bit long.

I think "Keyboard Functions" is incorrect in this context, in any case.

One possibility, similar to the approach taken with CUA (IIUC), would be to
make the treatment configurable. Have a translation table between
Emacs-jargon names and conventional names, and provide a user option for
using one or the other (in menus). That might be heavy-handed for
maintenance, but it would also be convenient for some users. Users of the
conventional names would still need to make the transition at some point, of
course (e.g. when reading the manual). And this would open the door to the
possibility of menu translation for other languages... (=> can of worms).

Beyond menu-item names, I think the intention was that synonyms would be
introduced in the Emacs manual. If it is not already there, "keyboard
shortcut" could be added as a synonym for "key binding". The notion of
binding a command to a key sequence is important to understanding Emacs, so
it cannot be skipped over. But there's nothing wrong with also mentioning
that the bound key sequences are sometimes referred to elsewhere as
"keyboard shortcuts".

There is also the ternminology problem discussed recently of "key" sequences
(and bindings) not necessarily involving keyboard keys...

Anyway, I didn't mean to distract from your suggestions. It would be good if
some of them could be implemented before the release - in particular, adding
top-level links to sections and moving the encoded-kbd-self-insert-ccl stuff
to the back burner.

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