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Platform independent graphical display for Emacs

From: Stefan Kangas
Subject: Platform independent graphical display for Emacs
Date: Thu, 23 Dec 2021 20:30:42 -0800

Drew Adams <drew.adams@oracle.com> writes:

>> FWIW, I think it would be highly preferable if Emacs
>> could look and behave the same across all platforms.
> OK, why do you think that would be highly preferable?

I don't think that what we do necessarily translates very well to the
widgets provided by common toolkits.  For example, the mode line is not
rendered by a toolkit.

OTOH, I can see plenty of benefits with doing things ourselves.

With regards to tooltips, in VSCode they can also include links to
relevant actions.  I don't think we can currently do that (or e.g. use
faces and have them work).

Dialogs are basically not very useful or Emacsy as is.  When they pop
up, you are completely outside of "Emacs land", and there is no way for
us to add keybindings, style them, etc. or do much of anything really.

Our scrollbars are fairly subpar compared to the ones in VSCode, at
least in GTK.  Admittedly that might be to some extent because it is
hard to style them from Lisp themes (I guess that's not currently

There is a similar story with the tab bar, tab line and toolbar.

Then we have things like the posframe package, where the minibuffer pops
up on top of the current buffers.  That currently works with a hack (a
separate frame) but we could imagine having our own widget for that.
IMO, we would ideally want that to look the same across platforms.

I think there are many more things that we could do if we wanted to.
You can fire up an editor made by the competition and see what they do
for more ideas.

That said, all of this would obviously be a lot of work and until and
unless someone starts such work this is all rather academic.

> How similar are you aiming for?

No idea.  I guess the menus would be different on macOS.

> And would that be by limiting what's possible on some platforms
> (lowest common denominator)?

I don't think it would necessarily imply that, no.

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