[Annoyances] X-Windows Copy & Paste

Richard Boulton richard at tartarus.org
Tue Aug 19 14:42:20 EEST 2003

On Tue, 2003-08-19 at 12:09, Waldo Bastian wrote:
> Hash: SHA1
> > this doesn't affect people who like everything to be all GUIy with
> > edit menus and whatnot, it is so apps without explicit edit menus
> > can co-behave with apps that do have them in a sane fashion.
> Apps without explicit menus can still use explicit key shortcuts.

Two problems with that:

     i) It requires users to know about some secret method for
        putting the copy into the clipboard.  Secret in the sense that
        users have to read the documentation to know about the
        shortcuts, and most users never do that.  In applications with
        menus, the user can look at the shortcut listed beside the menu
        option, but xterm, pterm, etc don't have such menus.
        I don't think we should be aiming just to make it possible to
        use the clipboard - we should be aiming to make it easy.

    ii) It requires the key shortcuts to be captured by the terminal - I
        know that the developers of pterm are always concerned about
        capturing any more keys than neccessary because it risks
        breaking applications running in the terminal by stopping them
        receiving key presses the user might have intended for them.
        Key shortcuts, like menus, aren't always appropriate.
I agree that the suggested solution isn't perfect - it has the problem
that doing a selection in one of the applications which does implicit
paste wipes out the clipboard set by another application.

The problem, I think, is that it isn't possible to have the implict
copy-on-drag UI metaphor as well as the explicit metaphor in the same
desktop at the same time without keeping them entirely separate (and
requiring all applications to support both), or running into confusing
UI messes where applications don't interoperate as users expect them
to.  The solution proposed by John Meacham is the best compromise I've
seen so far.

An alternative would be to try and move to one or other of the schemes
entirely, and get rid of the other.  Since some developers feel strongly
that one way is best, and some the other, this isn't going to happen.

Does anyone know of any User Interface professionals who've done a study
of this problem?

Richard Boulton <richard at tartarus.org>

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