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RE: Key bindings proposal

From: Uday S Reddy
Subject: RE: Key bindings proposal
Date: Fri, 27 Aug 2010 09:56:24 +0100

Drew Adams writes:

> #3 is particularly off the wall. (Though it's unclear what you might
> mean by "basic commands".)  Having a command bound by default does
> not prevent anyone from rebinding it to a different key. It is true
> that many commands need not be bound by default, but it is also true
> that many are not bound by default. There is no problem here that
> needs to be solved.

Here is a philosophy that one might take.  We will bind a few crucial
functions to keys because we think they are absolutely essential.
Then we will make available a whole bunch of other functions and a
whole bunch of free keys, so that you can bind them as they suit you.

"Less is more" with this philosophy.  The fewer keys you bind, the
more free keys you give to the user.

Let me give you a concrete instance of the problem I spent some
thought on during the last couple of weeks.  VM has traditionally had
a key binding of `k' to kill-subject, i.e., kill all messages with the
same subject as the current one.  Most people have used it to kill
message threads, because threading didn't work very reliably in the
old days, and so, we went by subject.  Now, I have improved threading
and it works reliably.  So, I raised the idea "can we rebind `k' to
kill-thread instead of kill-subject?"  The answer is, "oh, well, not
quite."  I can bet that 90% of the users 90% of the time will use
kill-thread instead of kill-subject.  But I can't simply disregard the
remaining 10%.  If the old key binding is left alone, then the users
will just habitually type `k' and never discover that there is a
better function now.

If there had not been a built-in key binding for k = kill-subject, and
it was merely a suggestion for users to do the binding themselves, I
could now simply change the suggestion and let the users suit
themselves.  Those users who really need kill-subject will keep the
old binding and the others will switch over.  The whac-a-mole problem
is better solved at the usr end than at our end.

As a developer, I don't feel possessive about key bindings.  I am
quite happy to give the users a blank slate and let them do their own
key bindings.  It is my software that I put my value in.  If the key
bindings get in the way of my users deriving the best value out of my
software, then what purpose has been served?


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