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Re: Global bar to display global information

From: Stefan Monnier
Subject: Re: Global bar to display global information
Date: Tue, 16 Aug 2011 13:31:13 -0400
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/24.0.50 (gnu/linux)

> And we already have ways of posting text to the echo area (same space
> as minibuffer) when the minibuffer is inactive: `message'.
> That messages get replaced by later messages and by minibuffer input
> is just a further demonstration that using the minibuffer/echo area
> for this global info would be a bad idea.

I tend to agree, tho it is also true that the echo area tends to be
empty most of the time, so it is tempting to try and use it to display
"permanent global non-urgent" info.  I probably wouldn't want that by
default, but it would be good for Emacs to make such a thing possible/easy.

Emacs-24 has introduced the minibuffer-inactive-mode which lets you
setup key-bindings for this "empty" inactive thingy, but it has lots
of quirks (e.g. mouse event bindings seem to work well, but key event
bindings only work for minibuffer-only frames).

The inactive/empty echo area is actually displaying a buffer (the buffer
named " *Minibuf-0*", IIUC), so technically it shouldn't be too
difficult to create a package that inserts useful stuff in that buffer
so they get displayed in the echo area when nothing else is shown there.

> a. In a standalone minibuffer frame (if it exists), in its own
> dedicated space within that frame (e.g. 1 line, 2 lines? extendable?),
> perhaps above the minibuffer/echo area.

Shouldn't be too hard: create a normal (i.e. with minibuffer, and not
minibuffer-only) frame of the appropriate size, make it display
a special buffer whose mode-line-format is set to nil and whose content
shows whatever you want to see there.

> b. Standalone, in its own frame.

Same thing, but without the minibuffer.

Overall, it sounds like it shouldn't be too hard to make up a little
package that fills a buffer with useful global info
(time/battery/mail/younameit) and then lets you choose where you want to
display it (separate frame, inactive minibuffer, ...).


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