Projects/Usability/HIG Questions/Standard Shortcuts

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I believe the KDE Standard Shortcuts are by far from perfect and have several consistency problems. A lot of these problems mostly due to be legacy problems.

I'll list here some thought to start a discussion - I haven't thought it out completely by myself.

The bisggest problem I see is the inconsitent usage of the modifier keys - there's no clear vision here

  • Nearly all modern keyboards have four modifier keys (SHIFT, CTRL, ALT, SYSTEM (SYSTEM is not defined: Win key on PC, Apple Key on Mac, Meta key on other) - so let's start use it!
  • Currently (aka KDE 3), do modifiers have a clear context meaning? By far not! Currently it looks something like this
    • SHIFT changes case in Input fields (good) modifies some other modifier keys, to change its meaning like Save / Save As -> CTRL-S / SHIFT-CTRL-S, (good), but can be also used as a general shortcut key without any relation (New Text Document in Krusader -> SHIFT-F4) (bad)
    • CTRL is supposed to be the standard shortcut key within applications, like CTRL-P, CTRL-S, etc - this is done quite well most of the time in KDE (good), however, a lot of System shortcuts (i.e. shortcuts with global scope) are also used with CTRL, like CTRL-Fx for Desktop Switching. Even better, some other are used in combination with ALT, like CTRL-ALT-left, again for Desktop switching.
    • ALT is what? I seems to be used as the unversal do-all... Initially, its usage was to define Mouse-less control, so ALT-F would open the file menu. However, ALT is now used as general application shortcuts (Kruader Disk Usage -> ALT-D), Global navigation (ALT-TAB for application switching, yes I know this is legacy, or ALF-F1 for the main menu), ...
    • SYSTEM is largely unused, and if used, sometimes in more than strage locations (sorry about the Krusader reference, but I use it that often -> List sort by name - WIN+1 ????????), maybe also a lot in Global Shortcuts


So, I propose a consistent scheme, something like this

  • Use the System key! If there are still (some older) keyboards that don't have it, it can normally easily be mapped to another key (maybe to CAPS-LOCK, which is useless anyway). Or have an Escape key, somethig like CTRL-ALT-ESC = Win. But use this key (and consistently)
  • SHIFT is only used to change another modifier, and not a shortcut modifier by itself
  • The System key is used for global scope only (That's why it's called system key)!, So switch between applications-> SYS-TAB. Change Desktop: SYS+Fx, or SYS-left. Task Menu -> SYS-ESC. Something in this direction.
  • SYS-CTRL combinations are for Global Shortcuts only. So, e.g. SYS-CTRL-V could be the Klipper clipboard menu, or used for quicklaunching applications (SYS-CTRL-C to lauch a Console)
  • CTRL is used solely for application shortcuts. No Global Shortcuts. maybe, CTRL-ALT would be ok, to have more options.
  • ALT is solely used for keyboard navigation. No dedicated shortcuts start with ALT.
  • What about F-keys. Have to think about

With this, it would be immediately clear, that when I press a CTRL or ALT key, the effect would only be for the current application, while the SYS key is to control the whole user environment.

This is just a starting point, there might be inconsistencies. Feel free to add your comments.

(TechBase user: dukat, mailto:gul@gmx.li)


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