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Re: Shift-Letter Extension

Posted By: Walter Rassbach <>
Date: Tuesday, 8 September 1998, at 6:39 a.m.

In Response To: Re: Shift-Letter Extension (John Gruener)

Hmmm... I must have written it up wrong, since I agree with your concerns, and I thought I had set it up without materially affecting ANY current key usage (at least, that was used/useful). I guess it may have been written too much from my mathematical/system architect mood/mode where I try to cover everything (dot all them 't's)... In particular, I'm not sure where "[not] anything similar to current functions" comment came from (except that I must have written it up badly), and the double-quote usage seems intuitive to me (the usage of colon for switching between name/ext is maybe a bit less so, but even that feels almost intuitive to me...)

I guess what I am saying is that I think that the complexity was in the presentation and not the thing itself... Let me try again:

1) Shift-letter and numeric keys work JUST LIKE before, except that a SEQUENCE of such keys specifies further characters of the name rather than always skipping to the next file "starting with" -- This is just the basic change we started this discussion with.
2) Include the other, CURRENTLY UNUSED special characters which appear in file names under the same umbrella. Consider pulling in # $ ' and ; (semicolon) which currently have obscure meanings.
3) Consider pulling in +, =, - from their current usage in a directory window, with a configuration option (and add/replace their functions using the INS/DEL keys). -- This is for completeness, these keys ARE currently unused in a File/B/G/S view...
4) TAB and shift-TAB act like forward and reverse "repeat last" keys in a File/B/G/S window except for the overriding meaning for TAB when in an F8-split screen. TAB is currently unused in a non-split File/B/G/S view.
5) The (curently meaningless/unused) double-quote key ('"') acts like a forward direction "repeat last" as well, without regard to intervening keystrokes.
6) The (again unused) colon key (':') switches between specifying name and extension.
7) Maybe provide a useful meaning for the F4 key in a File/B/G/S view.

Probably the only real point of contention is specifying when it starts over as opposed to extending the sequence -- You were suggesting that releasing the shift key would reset (I see problems with hitting numerics -- shift-numerics DO NOT work...), while I don't see any problem with just saying that the specification is being extended until the user hits ANY other kind of key (with BackSpace, ALT, and CTRL counting as one of these "break sequence" keys)... -- I would think tapping the ALT or CTRL key would be just as easy as releasing and re-pressing SHIFT...

That's really all there is to it -- For the most part no currently used keys change their meaning in ANY way, except:

a) The effect of an (unbroken) sequence of shift-letter or numeric keys is different.
b) The obscure # $ ' and ; keys change meaning (I doubt anyone used them)
c) There is a configuration option to change the meaning of the +/=/- keys -- If one doesn't want them to change meaning, leave the option in its default state -- No change unless you explicitly ask for it...
d) Meanings are assigned to some currently unused keys...

In fact, that is why I called it a "flash", because it felt like a "pure" extension -- If one doesn't learn the enhancement, things still work JUST the way they always did -- I would certainly be willing to leave out the parts about changing the # $ ' ; and the +/=/- keys, or even including any of the special characters (although, since they are currently unused, I fail to see why there would be an objection), I put them in for completion.

I think I would object to making this all into an alternate/variant form of TreeSpec triggerred by the '|' key for two reasons:

A) Part of the convenience of the shift-letter method is JUST that there is no need to hit an additional key to start navigation.
B) I can think of better kinds of, or variations on, TreeSpec, e.g., a '\' starts one at the current directory while a '|' starts TreeSpec at the ROOT directory (saving that annoying ctrl-BackSpace!), and I am sure there are other possible usages...

Please, re-read it again, I think you will find it is NOT all that much different than current usage and not that hard to learn the whole thing even for "average" users -- The only really new keys are double-quote, colon, and maybe F4, all of which add new, useful functions, and the inclusion of all of the special characters with what seems to be the obvious meaning. I apollogize for the obscure write-up... -- Walter


> Walter,I've read and thought through your detailed proposal
> very carefully. (What a "flash"!)

> I know you've spent a lot of time and thought on this, but
> I must be honest here. I think it's just too complex for the average
> person. Of course, ZTree users might not be "average"
> persons, but still, too many keys are not at all intuitive, or anything
> similar to current functions. I realize that there just aren't many
> keys available, but it's just too much for my feeble brain! I think
> some people might adapt to it, but, in my opinion, not many.

> I have what I think is a much simpler approach, and gives us
> all the keys on the keyboard to spell out a name in either the directory
> or file windows.

> Instead of my suggested Continous-Shift key, (which may not
> work and has some drawbacks), why not use the "|" key,
> (Shift-Backslash) to enter the spell mode in either window? Currently
> an initial "|" key acts just like the "\" key
> in either window. This would change so that it would, instead, enter
> the Spell Mode.

> The "|" key would work in the same fashion as the
> "\" key does now in the directory window, i.e., once pressed,
> all characters entered would be spelling the name of the file or
> directory, until an Enter or Esc key is pressed. This needs more
> definition, but at this point I'm only asking you and others whether
> this sounds like a better idea. In the Spell Mode all keys would
> be available, (without having to shift letters), to find any legal
> long file/directory name. The Tab and Shift-Tab key could be used
> while in the Spell Mode to find the next/previous file/directory
> which matches the spelling. No change would be made to how the current
> Shift-Letter and Number keys work to find the first letter of files.

> Also, I would like to keep the initial proposal restricted
> to just the *basic* function, without adding, (yet), the ability
> to specify extension names, or anything else. I think the simpler
> we keep this, initially, the better chance we have of getting it
> done. We can add more bells and whistles later after we have a working
> model.

> John

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