Here is my proposal with replies to earlier comments by Eli and Lars.
- Add '(cursor-intangible t) by default to minibuffer-prompt-properties.
- Add cursor-intangible-mode by default to minibuffer-setup-hook, so that
the cursor is intangible by default.
- Then we do not need to tweak C-a, C-x h to cater to the minibuffer prompt
>> Eli Emacs always allowed one to enter the prompt, if one wanted badly enough.
> One use case where this is handy is when you need to copy the prompt text to
> somewhere else;
In that case, the cursor-intangible-mode can be temporarily disabled and then
the prompt will be accessible using C-x h (the version using just (point-min)
and (point-max)). The current version in master hard-codes the C-x h behavior so
that the prompt is never accessible, and also we lose the simple and sweet
definition of mark-whole-buffer.
> I'm sure there are others.
Would toggling the cursor-intangible-mode help? Would a binding to toggle that
mode to the minibuffer-local-map help?
If you consider your use cases when you need to edit/copy the prompt versus the
ones when you do not, what would be a rough split?
> AFAIR, we make the prompt a field so that simple commands like C-a don't enter
> it inadvertently; that measure was good enough for us for many years. Why
> isn't it good enough now?
Even though I do not use the arrow keys for navigation, I feel that the current
state is inconsistent, and we are patching up each use case as we find. So I am
suggesting that we enable the cursor-intangible-mode by default in the
minibuffer so get a consistent behavior when using C-a, C-x h,
arrows/character-based navigation, etc.
> The initial message in bug #21874 provides no rationale for the request (which
> seems to be a feature request, not a bug that needs to be fixed).
That bug report raises the inconsistency concern I presented above.
> So I'm not sure why we want to make such significant changes in behavior due
> to that bug report.
I am not suggesting to make this change in the emacs-25 branch, just in the
master branch. Also my suggestion would affect only the minibuffer, not other
major modes. I do not have experience writing the tests to verify the new
behavior. But I can always provide detailed bug reports and my analysis of
what's going wrong on the elisp side by running the master build as my daily
> Do I understand correctly that the proposed change will disallow doing that,
> without some complicated operations that many users won't even know about? If
> so, I object.
I did not understand that. With my proposed change, user simply needs to toggle
cursor-intangible-mode in the minibuffer to restore the old behavior. On the
other hand, the change in mark-whole-buffer is hard-coded.
> Working with minibuffer prompts is too hardwired into the muscle memory of
> veteran Emacs users for us to change that in radical ways at this point.
It again comes to how often the veteran Emacs users need to edit/copy the
minibuffer prompt in their daily use. What would be a rough percentage of times
accessing the minibuffer when one would need to copy the prompt too?
> If some newcomers get surprised by some of the aspects of that behavior, I say
let them get
It boils down to Do The Right Thing. The prompt, I believe, is not designed to
be changed by the user at the time of use.. If the prompt says "Query Replace:
", the user naturally would want to edit only the text following that prompt. If
for some reason, I want to copy whatever incomplete regexp I wrote for later
use, it's natural to just do "C-x h M-w". It would be unnatural if that copied
the prompt too! I am not a veteran Emacs user like you, but I am also not a
newcomer and I still find the prompt invading default behavior unnatural.
>> Lars I think we have three ideas about how the minibuffer should be
> handled: 1) It should be as normal a buffer as possible, and we should do
> minimal things to distinguish between the prompt and the text (your stance).
That has issues from the UX point of view; like the query replace example I gave
> 2) We should try to make the prompt go away from (some) common commands where
> that makes sense (which is what Emacs does now with C-a and the
> mark-whole-buffer change).
I like the commit you made. But my proposal is to make a change that results in
consistent behavior throughout, rather than having to patch up simple commands
like mark-whole-buffer, on as-we-find basis. After the recent commit, the
mark-whole-buffer does not truly mark the whole buffer. With my proposal, by
toggling the cursor-intangible-mode, the user can choose to make C-x h to select
the prompt or not.
> 3) The prompt should be a totally separate thing, not affected by any commands
> whatsoever (the suggestion made yesterday).
I do not have enough "karma points" to add weight to my proposal. So I rest my case here.