Squib of the day: prefix system for keybindings

Old ad, with Prefixes for phone numbersIn GNOME bug 310842 the suggestion is raised that there should be an option to require all keybindings to be prefixed with a particular keystroke, to minimise the number of keystrokes which can’t be used by applications– there would be only one keystroke, the prefix, that was globally grabbed.  Such a system would be reminiscent of ctrl-A in GNU Screen or ctrl-T in ratpoison.  The default would be to keep things the way they are, of course.

It’s certainly doable, but would this be of use to anyone in the real world?  Do any of you fancy justifying this idea?

Photo © Lauren, cc-by-nc-nd.

6 Comments

  1. Posted January 29, 2009 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Don’t forget to handle the visual mode, grep/sed macros and :q to turn off compositing ;)

  2. Posted January 29, 2009 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    I personally move all the WM keybindings to the Super/Mod4 key, so to move to another workspace it’s Right, gnome’s menu it’s F1, etc. That lets my apps free to use any Ctrl+ hotkeys.

    BTW, Gnome’s keybiding gui tool can’t catch +something it just binds to . I have to use gconf-editor to set it.

  3. Posted January 29, 2009 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Can’t use less than/greater than here?
    … so to move to another workspace it’s (Mod4)Right, gnome’s menu it’s (Mod4)F1 …

  4. Posted January 30, 2009 at 2:37 am | Permalink

    < is &lt;
    > is &gt;

    I like this idea. I think Allen Luce would like it too :)

  5. Martin Meyer
    Posted January 30, 2009 at 2:59 am | Permalink

    If this were going to be done, could it possibly be done in a separate process? Have an app running in the session that intercepts the special “wm-command-is-coming” keypress and display an overlayed window on the screen to help you decide what button to press next. I’m picturing a rectangle in the middle of the screen with 50% opacity listing what the possible keypresses are. When the user presses a key, a signal is sent to metacity (dbus? x message?) telling it what action to take.

    Is that possible? Can those message actually be passed properly? I tihnk it’d be pretty neat to try, but from an HCI standpoint, telling someone they have to press and extra button every time they want to issue a keypress seems less than ideal. Maybe we could always make it just a simple F2 or something easy to do/press…

  6. Calum
    Posted January 30, 2009 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    I think we need to know more about the use case here. Is the solution (if one is needed at all) to implement some customisable prefix, or just to allow window manager shortcuts to be temporarily turned off while you’re using GNOME-unfriendly applications?