[Annoyances] X-Windows Copy & Paste

George jirka at 5z.com
Tue Aug 26 01:34:35 EEST 2003

On Sat, Aug 23, 2003 at 01:35:12PM -0500, Linas Vepstas wrote:
> On Fri, Aug 22, 2003 at 10:15:46AM -0700, George was heard to remark:
> > 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.
> But I don't know how to navigate between workspaces or windows using 
> the keyboard.  Most of the cut-n-paste I do is between apps, not within
> one app.  If you need cut-n-paste within one app, that app usually
> provides the editing features that are approppriate for that app
> (graphics, electronics, etc.).  (and the semantics are usually a *lot*
> more complicated than a mere highlight.) (after 5 years, I still 
> can't cut-n-paste within gimp with confidence).

I can switch windows and workspaces with keyboard no problem, and have seen
even non-computer kind of people switch windows with keyboard without much
trouble (in windows), so it can't be that hard.  If speed of the action is an
issue, you have to learn the shortcuts of course.

> > 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
> 1) Only pros are gonna use vi; for the masses we have gedit?

Exactly.  My point was that the only place where I can properly figure out
where a paste will happen is gvim, because I see the insertion point before
I middle click, not after.  The whole thing is moving the insertion point at
the same time as pasting.  That requires lots of coordination and some mental
concentration, at least it does for me.  It is far easier (at least for me)
to have two actions, 1) set the insertion point, 2) paste.

In non-dual mode editors, it is likely you want to move the insertion point
at the same time as pasting.  And that's my point.  I don't think that can
be something I would give people as the "first and primary" way of pasting
within X.  I would suggest to people standard copy and paste, as it is
easier to figure out and can be used by all people, even those that have
trouble coordinating.  Middle click paste is completely useless for people
that can't coordinate mouse move and mouse click well and so it is not 
very accessible.

> 2) All the more reason to make sure graphical vi works.  I think one of
>    them, elvis?? moves the insert point to where you clicked.

That is braindead for a dual mode editor like vi, but elvis does have a
tendency to be braindead as opposed to vim.

> > 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.
> Red herring. There is no graphical 'paste' in vi. (Maybe in elvis ??)
> Besides, its 'p' not control-v -- this is an app issue ... 

Huh?  gvim?  very graphical, and there IS a paste.  You can even get it from
the menu Edit->Paste.  Or press "+gP .  In any case that is NOT
the issue.  I do

> > and sometimes I select with the mouse and press y and then
> > p somewhere else.
> ?? My vim doesn't work this way!

Ahh, you are not using the graphical vim.  gvim.  You are using the text mode
version that I have not used in ages.  I would say most vim users use the X11
interface.  It's even GTK+2 nowdays.

But that is irrelevant.  My point wasn't about vim, my point was that OUTSIDE
of vim I can't quite figure out how it works and it's annoying for actual cut
and paste because it MOVES the insertion point and I can't predict where it
will move it.

> ----------------------------------
> Let me summarize my stance, and I think its both non-controversial,
> and held be a majority of current users:
> -- The conversation sounded like it might break a feature that many
>    depend on, and replace it with something clunkier. That's alarming.

I have not said people should break the PRIMARY thing, I just said it is
hardly as important as CLIPBOARD.  I also said that I don't think we should
present the PRIMARY selection middle clicky thingie as "THE way to copy and
paste text" to new users.  I think if this feature is undocumented, we'll
all be fine.

> -- As long as the highlight-implicit-copy and middle-paste continues
>    to work in most apps, I won't peep  (and as long as
>    double-click selects word, triple-click selects line)

Yes, but the discussion was about if this should touch CLIPBOARD as well.
Some people want to disable it wholesale which seems completely nuts to me
since if it is there or it isn't the user that doesn't know about it
can't distinguish.  That is, it doesn't get in the way for the user that
doesn't know about it.

> -- It would be nice to have this work in wine.  Paste seems to work
>    already, it seems.  What's broken in wine is highlight-implicit-copy.
>    which is the one that consistently trips me up.

That's a wine issue.


George <jirka at 5z.com>
   As long as people will accept crap, 
   it will be financially profitable to dispense it.
                       -- Dick Cavett, in "Playboy", 1971

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