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RE: Bikeshedding go! Why is <M-f4> unbound?

From: Drew Adams
Subject: RE: Bikeshedding go! Why is <M-f4> unbound?
Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2011 14:24:19 -0800

> > 2. Giving a default binding to this key will (yes, it seems 
> > to) discourage other uses of it in Emacs.  Over time, default
> > bindings sometimes become sacrosanct.
> As I have already said (but you might have missed) Emacs does bind
> Alt+F4 by default now (but does not use it). Aren't you from that
> perspective actually kind of defending that binding?

To the extent that I am arguing against Emacs binding M-f4 and not just _asking
why_ we should bind it:

1. No, I was not aware that it is already bound by default but that binding does
not work.  (I guess that's what you are saying.)  Just what do you mean by that?
On Windows: `C-h k M-<f4>' => "<M-f4> is undefined" (and the key does not appear
in the `global-map', at least).

2. Whether the Emacs binding already exists (but doesn't work) or not, I have
exactly the same arguments against it.  (And I have the same question wrt the
supporting arguments: where's the beef?)

Again, I do not feel super strongly about not binding this key by default.  But
I think that the arguments presented in support of this binding, so far at
least, are pretty weak.


[Note too that I would not mind our revisiting some other default bindings that
are not so wise.

Example: Bindings `f3' for `kmacro-start-macro-and-insert-counter' and `f4' for
`kmacro-end-or-call-macro' would be better moved to _non-repeating keys_, and
preferably a pair of keys that looks like a pair.  The keys chosen back in the
dark ages for `kmacro-start' and `kmacro-end' (actually, for their ancestors)
are `C-x (' and `C-x )'.

Those older keys have the twin advantages of (a) not being (hence not wasting)
repeating keys and (b) employing start and end parens as mnemonic devices.
Clearly there was much more thought given to choosing `C-x (' and `C-x )', many
moon ago, than there was given more recently to choosing `f3' and `f4'.  It
seems like someone just noticed one day that up through Emacs 22 the keys `f3'
and `f4' were left unbound and exclaimed "Eureka! Why not waste 'em
gratuitously? They're not doing anyone any good being unbound!"

And so on - there are other bindings that are also not so wise.  Too often I
think we have taken the lazy route as time goes on: an unbound key is discovered
and adopted with little thought.  Hence my bringing up the question this time:
_why_ this binding?  Let the good answers come...]


(FWIW, looking at some old mail messages I came across this in
`xterm-alternatives-map' (I don't have xterm.el, so I cannot check that it was
actually implemented): [A-f4] seems to act there as [f52].  What to do about
that, for those who want Emacs to respect `ALT-f4' in the wider world?  Perhaps
you agree that libraries can bind it, but doesn't that interfere with users who
expect it to do its extra-emacs thing?)

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