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Re: Rename, delete and move current buffer and file

From: Andreas Röhler
Subject: Re: Rename, delete and move current buffer and file
Date: Mon, 7 May 2018 17:38:48 +0200
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux i686; rv:52.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/52.7.0

On 07.05.2018 17:29, Andreas Röhler wrote:

On 07.05.2018 15:58, Jarosław Rzeszótko wrote:
It is surprisingly hard to do this in Emacs, and I think it is a common problem, as evidenced by e.g.:


You can use dired, but I personally find it to be a distraction for this use case.

There is set-visited-file-name, but:
a) it creates a copy of the file by default
b) the name is not intuitive and I doubt many people looking to rename a file will find it c) the best UI/UX is IMO different for different use cases, rename is different from move

A very similar related pain point is that it is hard to get the path and directory of the current buffers visited file. There exist ways to do it, but this is a pair of related use cases and the handling is completely different: for the path you have default-directory, an elisp variable, and pwd, a command capable of displaying the path in minibuffer or yanking it at point. For file name I am only aware of the elisp function: buffer-file-name. Again, two closely related use cases, handled very differently, I by now looked those up like 10 times and every time I forget how to get this info because the names are so far from what you would expect.

How can we fix or improve those issues?

For rename/delete/move I would create three distinct commands:

Those names make the functions easy to discover if you are using something like ivy or ido for M-x, while they are still precise from the standpoint of Emacs concepts. It seems good to me to separate rename, which should prefill the minibuffer prompt with the current name, and ask only for a new filename, WITHOUT directory selection, from move, which should prompt for a full new path, WITH directory selection.

For the current buffers file and directory name, I think aliasing default-directory as visited-file-name-directory, and introducing visited-file-name is one option. Another option: introduce buffer-directory-name as a complement to the existing buffer-file-name function. That would cleanup the elisp part, and then at least the names are something you can remember, and with M-: you can kill, insert or display those.

Question remains how to fix those things also on an user interface level. I think it's a pity clicking on the filename in the modeline changes the current buffer, I am happy to hear if I am mistaken, but today this behavior is rather unexpected and I would be very surprised to see somebody switching buffers this way. On the other hand it looks like a nice place for a menu where all the operations mentioned could be triggered (rename, move and delete file+buffer, display/kill/insert directory name or file name). Providing default key bindings under a common prefix for them could be nice too.

Maybe someone has some more, or better, ideas for this.

Finally, while we are discussing functions everyone re-implements in their .emacs, please lets make transpose-windows happen as an Emacs builtin :)

Jarosław Rzeszótko

Good question.

My workflow is the following:

[(control a)]         ;; Store the buffer-name in kill-ring, code see below
[(control x) (d)]     ;; dired, commonly the wanted working dir
[(control s)(meta y)] ;; yank the buffer-name as argument to
               ;; isearch-forward

After all seeing dired-jump is better here.

So lets forget about that ;)

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