[Arcana] More Emacs love.

Karl Fogel kfogel at red-bean.com
Thu Jul 26 10:30:00 CDT 2012

Jim Blandy <jimb at red-bean.com> writes:
>On Wed, Jul 25, 2012 at 1:51 PM, Karl Fogel <kfogel at red-bean.com> wrote:
>> I didn't like the amount of oddly-placed visual distraction flyspell
>> threw at me, given the simplicity of the problem and its localization to
>> a very tiny portion of the buffer.  If one starts with the philosophy
>> that the user knows what word they're going for, and will recognize it
>> on sight, then one should generally try to keep their eyes aimed
>> squarely at the narrow problem area and just cycle through the options.
>> Only if that sequence of options is likely to be very long should one
>> trade time/keystrokes for visual space.
>Yeah, I think in the era of 25-line displays, the minibuffer was a
>fine solution. But with my monitor oriented vertically, I've got 134
>lines, around two and half feet, of vertical span.

Interesting.  I think that's a somewhat separate point, but a good one.

I still think the minibuffer is a terrific idea, even on tall frames,
because it avoids the problem that so many GUIs still seem to have: that
as soon as you do something unusual that requires either displaying a
message to the user or gathering visible text input from the user, some
random part of the current display is obscured while a text box pops up.

In egregious cases -- still surprisingly common! -- it pops up, you
know, like dead center in the middle of your display, and you get
monstrosities like a search box that covers the very match you're trying
to see.  But even the improved version, where it pops up in a
predictable place along the lower left or upper right, is still a lose,
because you might have been depending on the text under there remaining
visible for whatever you were about to do.

The beautiful thing about the minibuffer is that, since it's *always*
there, you habituate to your effective normal display being everything
else above the minibuffer -- leading to two Good Things: one, nothing is
ever surprisingly covered, and two, your eye always knows exactly where
to go when something is going to happen in the minibuffer.

IMHO what flyspell does would be a lose no matter how short or tall your
frame, since if your eye has to move *at all* from the target word, the
game is already busted.


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