Re: gnome-terminal's I pointer shape

In <y5w4rbz1ex4 fsf icon devel redhat com>, Havoc Pennington wrote:

> The first issue I think is one of consistency; most arguments here
> will not be specific to the terminal but will apply to text boxes in
> general. So we would need to document a policy in the HIG and apply
> that to all text boxes, and if an option is added, it should apply to
> all of them.

I think the reason for changing the cursor shape is to indicate that
text can be selected, but not necessarily altered, because Galeon (and
IE if you look to Windows) also change the shape when the pointer is
over text. Terminals - and most text editors as opposed to DTP or word
processors with layout features - are a bit special, because the whole
window contains text, and the user should be expecting that, and not
need any extra cues. So I find changing the pointer shape helpful in
some applications, but not in terminals. FWIW my favourite text editor
is vim, and the GTK version doesn't change the pointer.

> Another general question we should ask is what the prior art is; if OS
> X and Windows XP both do something, then the presumption should be to
> follow that unless we have good evidence otherwise, because they have
> a lot of experience and user testing behind them, and users are used
> to the behavior. I don't know what either OS X or Windows XP does in
> this case, but it's good information to have.

On the whole Windows is a good GUI, but there are some features that are
very annoying for a significant number of users and either can't be
changed, or are obscure and have side effects. Even if OS X and Windows
both do something, it can't be assumed that's the best way of doing it.
They may have chosen to do it because the other did and it's "what most
people are used to", while many users would prefer something different
once they got used to it.

Attracting new and ex-Windows users is important, but sometimes it feels
like Gnome is being dumbed down at the expense of more experienced Linux
users who appreciate lots of flexibility.

> One thing that may be relevant is that I think "cursor themes" are a
> feature we expect to have fairly soon, and that feature would allow
> global replacement of the I-beam (even in old apps such as xterm).
> This is probably the right place for the configurability.

I agree with that. Come to think of it, if a theme simply had a text
pointer shape which had an obvious active point and was maybe more
visible, that should be all it takes to stop the feature being a
disadvantage for me.

TH *

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