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Re: APL mode

From: Rustom Mody
Subject: Re: APL mode
Date: Sat, 26 Oct 2013 10:08:52 +0530

On Sat, Oct 26, 2013 at 7:10 AM, Stefan Monnier
<address@hidden> wrote:
>> If there is something fundamentally wrong with this line please let me know
> I'm still wondering why a plain old normal well-supported quail
> input-method is not a good solution.

Obviously I know very little about quail -- so consider this as
thoughts for our comments.

In quail you need (as far as I understand) some kind of 'herald'
character like the  '\' for tex input method.

In APL programming you need a preponderance of non ASCII characters
Some egs from the apl-keyboard in the code I attached:

The a-key needs to send a and A and ⍺ and ⊖
The g-key needs to send g and G and ∇ ⍒
and so on for most of the keys. [All need to send at least 3, majority
need to send 4]

Using a modifier key like the normal use of shift makes this palatable
Having to use a herald key means having to keep heralding -- a PITA.

The original solution from Juergen was to use xmodmap and use alt as
the modifier key -- quite normal in the APL world.
However with Alt (=M) gone we lose M-p M-n and above all M-x which
makes emacs close to useless

My initial attempts were to figure out xmodmap in order to add (rather
than to replace) one more modifier key. My findings:
1. I could not make head or tail of xmodmap
2. Even if I did it would be a very X-specific solution ie would not
work outside gnu-linux (maybe unix) systems
3. Keyboards are inherently very variable, in particular from 'normal'
desktop to laptop

All these things considered a low-level but inside emacs (rather than
X/OS) solution seems to be most optimal.

Finally, my feeling is that if APL is to regain some popularity (which
it enjoyed 4-5 decades ago), a variety of input methods would be good
-- for different hardware, OSes, usage-profile, tastes.  So far I can
see these possibilities:
1. Juergen's xmodmap -- use ESC for Alt
2. David's quail-based one
3. Markus Triska's quail-based one (more tex-like than David's)
4. An intermediate one which I am trying to explore

Will be happy to hear your thoughts and experiences on this

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