[Annoyances] X-Windows Copy & Paste

John Meacham john at repetae.net
Wed Aug 20 00:50:43 EEST 2003

On Tue, Aug 19, 2003 at 11:26:52PM +0200, Kevin Krammer wrote:
Content-Description: signed data
> On Tuesday 19 August 2003 22:24, John Meacham wrote:
> > it shall be possible to transfer text from any app to any app via
> > selections.
> Anyone know any other app than Windows programs running in Wine which do 
> not accept PRIMARY pastes by mouse but do accept CLIPBOARD pastes?

middle-clicks are not always what people want, people should not have to
learn them to get data out of certain applications. 

> > If you have an app without explicit copy then you must add it.
> Exactly!
> If you want you application to be a text source for CLIPBOARD, implement a 
> copy operation.
> >  or LESS PREFERENTIALLY do something else, but only if you
> > have very very good reason.
> That would be "You can hack around recommendations and let all other 
> applications looks broken if you have a good reason for it", wouldn't it?

yes, you can do anything if you have a good reason for it, but that is
beside the point.
what I am trying to codify is what an app must _provide_ to be able
to talk to other applications. this is independent of the UI concerns.

the interoperability problem: 
* what does my app have to have the ability
to do such that I can participate in text exchange protocols.

_is_ usefully abstracted from the UI concerns

* how do I present these capabilities to the user.

seperation of form and function and all.

> > On Tue, Aug 19, 2003 at 12:49:55PM -0700, George wrote:
> > > So you propose solving it by having different UI mechanisms in
> > > different apps.  How the hell do I know as a user that wine app is
> > > different from xterm?  The clipboard.txt does mention the selection
> > > PRIMARY thing as an "easter egg" for technical users.  Apps should
> > > then just support explicit cut and paste using the CLIPBOARD.  The
> > > PRIMARY thing can stay in as "an easter egg" that need not even be
> > > documented much. If PRIMARY is kept separate as it should be, then it
> > > does not interfere with apps properly using CLIPBOARD.
> >
> > just saying PRIMARY is an easter egg doesn't work if there are apps
> > where it is the ONLY mechanism for selection/pasting. this is what I am
> > trying to fix. so that we MAY tell people it is an alternate method
> > which is never necisary.
> If an application is just accessible through PRIMARY, it will just look 
> like not being able to copy&paste to normal users.
> People are used to applications like that, but they are not used to having 
> their clipboard contents changed without having issued a command to do 
> so.

okay. then don't change the CLIPBOARD on selection, but provide some
other mechanism to do it, having selection change CLIPBOARD was just a
proposed solution for certain types of apps but is certainly not for
everyone and was not my main point. (I apologize, I know this was wildly
unclear in my initial email)

In any case these UI concerns are something app developers have to deal
with and make decisions on. Letting them know that if they don't provide
a mechanism to copy to CLIPBOARD they cannot properly participate in the
standard X11 text exchange protocol seems like a good idea.

John Meacham - California Institute of Technology, Alum. - john at foo.net

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