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Re: Tabbed buffers

From: Miles Bader
Subject: Re: Tabbed buffers
Date: Sat, 26 Jan 2008 09:07:16 +0900

Nick Roberts <address@hidden> writes:
> > It seems like it would need some thought to work well in Emacs, as
> > tabbed user interfaces quickly become unusable if there lots of
> > tabs, and Emacs buffer counts are quite often _way_ over that
> > threshold.
> I'm sure it will take some work but I'm not suggesting that *all* the
> buffers buffers are displayed in tabbed windows, just as currently not
> all the buffers are displayed in normal windows.

You have to be careful though, as I think typical user-experience is
with tools that _do_ put all "buffers" (or whatever term they use) in
tabs, so users will expect that they are.

Actually though, I suppose using the GUI's existing tab overflow
mechanism is probably good enough in many cases (e.g., which limits the
number of tabs, and puts remaining stuff in a menu which can be popped
up by a "..."  button on the far right).

My experiences with debuggers that use tabs are

  (1) Eclipse, which has an aggressive pruning/overflow mechanism.

      This keeps the number of tabs low, so the tab labels remain easily
      readable, but I've found that my typical "debugging working set"
      is larger than the number of tabs shown by default, and it quickly
      becomes annoying having to select tabs from the menu (you'd think
      it wouldn't be such a big deal, but for whatever reason I found
      this very annoying... :-)  Still, not that bad...

      [Of course this is partly due to Eclipse's wonky window layout
      (let's display all possible types of information crammed into the
      same display, in small unreadable windows), which makes the space
      available for the tab display much smaller than in most systems.]

  (2) VS [whatever version they have at work :-] seems to put far more
      files in tabs, to the point where the tab labels quickly become
      completely unreadable.  At this point the tabs become almost
      useless, you'd be better off just selecting from a menu.

> In terms of lisp interface, for example, there could be optional extra
> argument to display-buffer which gets ignored if Emacs doesn't support
> tabbed windows for the toolkit with which it has been built.

I don't think any interface that requires calls to display-buffer to
know about tabs is workable, there's simply too much code that wouldn't
know about them (not to mention we probably don't want to build in
dependencies on system-specific GUI features like tabs).


Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur.

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