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Re: Tentative diagnosis of TMM's problem. [Re: Enabling Transient Mark M

From: Stefan Monnier
Subject: Re: Tentative diagnosis of TMM's problem. [Re: Enabling Transient Mark Mode by default]
Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2008 15:52:24 -0500
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/23.0.60 (gnu/linux)

>> - Visual feedback about the mark's position and active status.
>> I and all (X)Emacs users I know personally (i.e. off-this-list) and
>> with whom I've talked about transient-mark-mode use
>> transient-mark-mode (or its XEmacs equivalent) and find it difficult
>> to use Emacs without it because of the lack of visual feedback about
>> where the mark really is.  I do not claim that this small group of
>> people is representative, but it does seem relevant.

>> - Extended semantics for various commands.
>> Many commands now offer to operate on the region if the region is
>> active but only when transient-mark-mode is ON.
>> This functionality is now also available to non-tmm-users via the
>> temporary-transient-mark-mode (C-SPC C-SPC), admittedly, but while
>> C-SPC C-SPC is easy enough to use, I always find myself selecting the
>> region *before* knowing that I want to use such a command (or
>> selecting the region with something else than C-SPC, typically
>> C-M-SPC), so I end up having to use C-u C-x C-x which I find a lot
>> more inconvenient.

> And that problem is, what on earth do these two facets of TMM have to do
> with eachother?

Keeping track of when the region is active and when it isn't can be
tricky, so without the visual feedback, you may get nasty surprises
where you end up, e.g., commenting a large part of your code instead of
inserting a harmless ";" at the end of the current line.

> Why should you have to "suffer" the visual effects of
> TMM, if you just want to use the "extended semantics",

You don't: you can change the `region' face so that it can't be seen.

> and why can you
> only highlight the region as a side effect of doing something else?

If you only want to visually highlight a piece of text, you can use
other packages that do that, like facemenu.

> I think that if we partitioned TMM into the command `highlight-region',
> and the other stuff, most of the acrimony on this thread would abate.
> highlight-region probably deserves its own key binding.

I don't think it's the right way to cut it.  The main issue is with the
conflation of 2 concepts on the set/push-mark commands: one is to push
a buffer location on a ring for navigational purposes, the other is to
set the boundary of the region.

TMM is great for the second use, and is a drag for the first.

Until now, the tendency has been to make the default closer and closer
to TMM, without going all the way to enabling TMM.  The main step in
that direction was the introduction of temporary-TMM.  Maybe another
step in that direction would be to make more commands enable
temporary-TMM.  E.g. all the mark-* commands which I expect are rarely
used for navigational purposes.  That would get us closer to TMM, but
one command at a time.


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