2009-09-13

keyboard shortcut notations

On Sep 13, 7:32 am, Francesco Biccari wrote:
> Hi David,
>
> to me, you are right.
> This notation is the most common in Windows applications (and I think
> also in other OS's) and it is less ambiguos than other ones.

I agree with should go with for example Ctrl+N, though i do have a little personal gripe... which i never thought in detail but anyway here it is.

With keys involving shift key, in my mind i always thought it should be
Ctrl+n and Ctrl+Shift+n, for the none-shifted and shifted version...

The difference between “my” model and the Windows model is that, in “my” model, keys are treated as characters/symbol/glyphs that makes up text, and users press keys on the keyboard to enter these characters. Emacs uses interpretation for its keyboard shortcut notation too) In Windows notation, keys are more thought of as keys on the keyboard hardware. This model is actually more sensible.

In the docs i wrote i always used “my” model, but never really seriously decided if it is better.

Both model do have some problems. In both “my” model and Windows's model, the notation for pressing all keys Ctrl and Shift and 1, has two notations: Ctrl+Shift+1 and Ctrl+@, but also Ctrl+Shift+@.

For example, the key combo to increase font size is pressing at the same time Control and Shift and Plus. In Windows Firefox, it is shown as Ctrl++. However, it really should be Ctrl+Shift+=. (just noticed, that in IE, it actually uses this notation “Ctrl +”, which shows that the IE people are willing to break notational consistency for ease of understanding)

This problem occur because of the fact that some keys are used for more than one glyph with the Shift down (e.g. 1 and !, 2 and @, 3 and # etc.). Basically, the result is that there is no one-to-one correspondence with key presses and the notation.

This problem gets worse with different keyboard layouts, because not all layouts have the same Shifted symbols. For example, i looked at the Spanish Spain layout, according to Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keyboard_layout#Spanish_.28Spain.29.2C_aka_Spanish_.28International_sort.29 A key combination of Ctrl and &, would be: Ctrl+Shift+6 and Ctrl+&. But in US keyboard, it would be Ctrl+Shift+7 and Ctrl+&. (From this example, we can see a slight advantage of interpreting the notation as characters to type, instead of keys on keyboard. Because if we treat the notation as chars to type, then Ctrl and & would just be that only, not Ctrl+Shift+7 or Ctrl+Shift+6 depending on layout. Again, this is what emacs do, but again, emacs is “better” only because it too lazy to deal with keyboard and layout complexity. Keyboard notation really should deal with keys on the hardware as human pressing buttons, not as typing text.)

Btw, it is also worth to mention that Apple's OS X, does not use the plus sign for its keyboard notation... For example, in Firefox for the Mac, to zoom in, the notation on the menu is shown as: “⌘+”, which means holding down the Command key and press “+”. The Apple model is arguably more elegant

(was hoping to find some screenshots or do one myself... to lazy.
however, i did check Wikipedia,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keyboard_shortcuts
but it didn't discuss Apple's notation.
)

I would be interested to know what are the notation shown in menus in Linux Gnome and KDE. (am guessing they follow Windows, but would like confirmation)

Anyway, all the above is just personal philosophizing. For ErgoEmacs, i think using Windows notation will be good.

Xah
∑ http://xahlee.org/

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