[Annoyances] X-Windows Copy & Paste

George jirka at 5z.com
Fri Aug 22 20:15:46 EEST 2003

On Fri, Aug 22, 2003 at 08:54:40AM -0500, Linas Vepstas wrote:
> > ALL apps should have an explicit copy operation. 
> I couldn't disagree more.  At best, 'copy' might be needed for
> complex structured copies, where you want to copy text AND a graphic
> in one go.  Implicit copies are possible and (can be made to) work 
> fine in almost all other cases.

But they (implicit copies) are undiscoverable by a casual user.  My mom
used linux for about 5-6 years now and never discovered it.  Most people are
quite happy with copy and paste by keyboard.  In fact I do this a lot.
If you can control the app through the keyboard completely then you
can cut/copy/paste from the keyboard without ever going to the mouse.
The selections in that case only screw up.

Also a problem of middle click paste outside of dual mode editors like
vi is that I never know where the result is pasted, is it at the point where
you click?  Or at the current insertion point?  I've seen both, and both
are confusing in different ways.  With explicit paste you first place
the insertion point and then paste, and there is never any confusion as
to where the text will be inserted.

Furthermore I can cut/copy/paste without moving my hands from keyboard to
mouse.  Use my left hand on the keyboard (XCV are right next to each
other if you notice) and my right hand on the mouse.  (though I mostly use
vim, so I press more v or V, motion keys, then y then motion keys then p
or P :)  and sometimes I select with the mouse and press y and then
p somewhere else.

> > This is the way it works in windows quite apparently and people are
> > quite happy with that solution.
> Maybe you don't actually use windows :-)

Did for a while.  And even like 5 years ago or whenever that was when I last
actually used windows, I could copy and paste to everywhere, from everywhere,
even places without edit menus.

> Lets not wait for the 'cut-n-paste' mouse geegaw to be invented.
> Lets not try to emulate the worst in Windows.

The current way it stands we're not changing anything.  I didn't say we
should abandon the PRIMARY selection and middle click paste.  I just said
there should be a fairly standard way to cut/copy/paste with explicit
commands into the CLIPBOARD.  The selection thing has a lot of problems
and can't be quite implemented everywhere (for example it will pretty
much always conflict on emulators such as wine, where middle click might
be bound to something else, though perhaps this can be ignored since
most windows boxes don't have middle click ... I don't know)

Still I would say the important one is to have CLIPBOARD and the PRIMARY is
an extra.  The other way around means that most people can't copy/cut/paste
since they have never discovered the PRIMARY selection thing.

> > I highly doubt that.  The only advantage is that you don't have to press a
> > key to copy, and that's a very dubious advantage.  
> Your remarks only serve to reveal that you almost never use cut-n-paste.

I use it all the time.  But using the mouse exclusively is not an option for
text editting.  On the other hand using the keyboard exclusively is a big
saver.  I'm much faster with cut/copy/paste using the keyboard then with
selection and middle click with the mouse usually.


George <jirka at 5z.com>
   Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.
                       -- Napoleon Bonaparte

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