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RE: Selection changes in revno 100822

From: Drew Adams
Subject: RE: Selection changes in revno 100822
Date: Sun, 15 Aug 2010 10:48:16 -0700

>  > Mouse-2 _was_ pasting until very recently.
> That's because of the (bogus) historical association of the selection
> with the kill-ring in Emacs.  Good riddance, IMO.

Reason?  Emacs has always had that feature (as long as I can remember, at
least).  And IMO it is a positive, handy feature.  I take advantage of it all
the time.

Why is it "bogus"?  What is gained by losing the ability to yank from the kill
ring using the mouse?

>  > We've been there before.  As far as Windows use patterns are
>  > concerned, we disagree.  I expect most Windows users disagree with
>  > you, because there's only the clipboard, so no way of having 2
>  > different selection types and 2 different ways of pasting.
> On X11 there are three different selection types, in fact, and two
> different ways of pasting.  That is a fact, and saying the Windows
> users don't believe it doesn't make it any less true.

Why care so much about X11 (or Windows or...)?  Why not define the best
interaction for _Emacs_ itself?  From the descriptions here of the X behavior, I
see no advantage over the traditional Emacs behavior regarding selection,
copying, killing, and yanking.

I don't think anyone has explained the advantage for Emacs users _in Emacs_.
We've heard that this can help X users by making Emacs correspond more closely
with X, but that's the only user-oriented argument voiced so far, AFAICS.
Compatibility with other apps or window mgrs is a consideration, of course, but
only one consideration.

Why should it be all-important for Emacs to limit its user interaction to what
X11 defines?  Or to what Windows defines.  Or to what any other OS or window mgr

Emacs needs to _cohabit_ with window managers - sure.  But it need not respect
every whim that a particular window mgr implements.  (This is circling 'round to
the discussion about CUA.)  Emacs is not X.  Emacs is not Windows.

It is far more important that Emacs user interaction be useful and _internally_
consistent than that it be the same as what some app or window mgr might define.

Catering to what some or even many users might be accustomed to outside of Emacs
is only one consideration for Emacs design.  And even that is not the same thing
as catering to some window-mgr "standard": Many users of X or of Windows seldom
use some of the behavior it might define as part of its "standard".

X-standardization of Emacs is not my goal.  If it is the proposed goal here,
then please provide some user-oriented arguments.  Tell us what _users_ gain and
what they lose by such a change.

>  > > primary selections are inserted when you click mouse-2.
>  > > primary selections are not inserted when you paste (C-v)
>  > 
>  > Does this mean I have no way of pasting from the primary selection
>  > without using a mouse?  That's hardly a Good Thing.
> Indeed, it's a Damn Good Thing.  Pasting from the *primary* selection
> is supposed to be lightweight.

"Supposed" by whom?  That question seems to be the elephant in the room.  Why
should we be limiting Emacs behavior to what X (or any other window mgr) might
define?  The X11 std defines what is "supposed to happen" for X11, but not for
anything else.  This is the emacs-devel list, not the x11-devel list.

Reminds me of the kind of changes that take place after one software company
buys another: the software of the gobbled is reworked to fit the gobbler.  X11
has not bought Emacs, AFAIK, so why act as if Emacs is being swallowed?

> It's only interesting if you only want to do something very
> simple (copy/paste) quickly, and not disturb the state of the
> application or system (specifically, the contents of the
> clipboard).

Who says so?  Not Emacs.  Not until now.  Emacs has traditionally associated
mouse-2 pasting with yanking the head of the kill ring.

That might not be what is interesting to X11, but it is interesting to Emacs and
Emacs users.  And it has been, for decades.  Is there some reason now why this
feature should no longer interest Emacs users?  Calling it "bogus" is not an
argument; it's just name-calling.

> Since your hand is already on the mouse in most cases,
> why would you use a different interface to manipulate the selection?

For one thing, your hand might no longer be on the mouse when you want to do
that.  You seem to have a simplistic idea of mouse use.

Do you (Stephen) actually use both the mouse and the keyboard for selecting and
yanking/pasting?  Maybe not.  I do.  I often use C-y to yank text that I have
previously selected using the mouse.  And I often use mouse-2 to yank text that
I have previously selected using the keyboard.

Both keyboard and mouse are convenient at different times for both selection and

In fact, yanking with C-y is so handy, even when the selection might have been
made previously using the mouse, that I personally do the same thing for the
_secondary_ selection.

I bind C-M-y to yank the secondary - and I use it often.  I even have and use a
secondary-selection kill ring, analogous to the kill ring used by C-y.  (And in
Emacs, at least, the secondary selection definitely _is_ less ephemeral than the
region, primary, and clipboard.)

There seems to be an assumption here that mouse and keyboard do not mix.  That
they live on different planets or different sides of the railroad tracks.  That
you use either one or the other.  That we might as well consecrate their
de-facto segregation, erecting a clean, high wall so they cannot interact.

I use both.  Depending on the context, I might double-click the mouse to select
a Lisp symbol or a text line or a Lisp sexp, or I might use the keyboard to do
that.  Each can be useful.  One is not inherently more ephemeral or lightweight
than the other.  They should not be relegated to separate ghettos.

Maybe X or Windows feels differently about that, but I'm interested in Emacs,
not X or Windows.

I do not want to see mouse selection and pasting become cantoned apart from
keyboard selection and yanking.  And I do not feel this way just about my own
personal use but also about what Emacs should be offering users in general.  At
the very least, the traditional (superior) Emacs way should still be available.

And it would be better to keep it as the default.  At least that is what I feel
now, until I hear some actual arguments (reasons) wrt the _benefit to users_ of
such a change.

So far, all I've heard (I have not studied each mail in detail, so I might have
missed something) is the argument that X defines things this way: XYZ0123, so
Emacs must do that also, to be X-compatible.

That, to me, is a _VERY_ weak argument for Emacs design.  Tell us how Emacs
_users_ benefit, please.  I do not believe in sacrifice to the goddess of
external compatibility with no benefit in sight.

X11 is not a goddess to whom Emacs need bow down.  Likewise, Windows.

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