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DrScheme UI complaints

DrScheme is a very good app for writing Scheme code. It's much better than any other that I've used, or am aware of. But I do have some complaints; I'm lodging them here for later reference.

  1. When I get an error that my parens don't match, the blinky-paren-matching feature is turned off! (The error is highlighted in pink, and paren-blinking is turned off in the pink region.)

  2. In the REPL, there's no keystroke for "execute this": instead I have to go to the end of the expression, then hit Return. (Something like Shift-Return would do the trick.)

  3. In the REPL, there's no easy way to retrieve the last command for editing. (In command shells, this is usually just Up-arrow. Is there any reason not to use that here. Surely I'll never need to use the keyboard to select random interpreter output, if that's what it's being saved for. I'd be quite happy, though with Ctrl-Up-arrow.)

  4. Cmd-Left-arrow (on the Mac) takes me to a point before the interpreter prompt. It's inconceivable I could ever want to go there. Make it take me to the beginning of my expression, just after the prompt.

  5. The Modifier-Arrow combinations don't work at all in the Help window's input field, and neither does double-clicking to select by words.

  6. The dock/undock feature for "palette" windows is not very compelling, but it does take up space and confuse matters. On the Mac in particular, the Find/Replace palette comes up as a "sheet," extending from the top of the window, which is entirely the wrong mode, for at least two reasons. First, because it's modal: it doesn't let me interact with the underlying window. Second, because it sometimes obscures the very text I'm looking for. Pretty much every text editor on the Mac does Find/Replace with a floating window—why not do it that way? Perhaps the platform-independence of DrScheme makes this hard to implement. In that case, it might be okay to use an ordinary (non-floating) window: one that can be hidden by other windows. In that case, there is a question of which definitions window will be searched. Possible right answers are: (1) the one that was frontmost when I opened this Find/Replace window, or (2) whichever one is frontmost when I hit the "Find" button.

  7. The behavior of Ctrl-arrows and Alt-arrows are reversed, IMHO. On the Mac, Option (Alt) always means "move by words" and Ctrl usually means something else, appropriate to the context. DrScheme's Ctrl-arrows move by word, while Option-arrows move by expression; this should be the other way around to keep with the Mac conventions. I wonder if other Mac users agree?


Thanks for the kind words.

Just a few comments:

1: it isn't turned off, but the pink supersedes it. We should probably not use the entire buffer as the source locations ...

2: you might try select-all (menukey-a), right-arrow, return for things where the parens are balanced.

3: esc-p

Thanks for the other suggestions. I'll try to look into them at some point.

PS: bring these comments on over to the plt-scheme mailing list next time!

Hi Robby—

Thanks for dropping by! I've just gone and subscribed to the plt-scheme list for future use. I had wanted to post this here for my reference, for when I got around to figuring out who to talk to.

Esc-P works like a charm for retreiving the last command--thanks! But, in emacs there's a nice identity between Esc- and Meta-, so I can usually use my Alt/Option/Meta key to do things like that. E.g., when running the shell inside Emacs, I can use Meta-P to retrieve the previous command. In DrScheme on the Mac, that gives me the π character, which is "correct" for the Mac from one point of view—but non-ASCII characters aren't usually useful for programming, so I'd just as soon relegate those to the "Special Characters..." dialog. Alternatively, something like Meta-Up-arrow or Cmd-Up-arrow could do the trick.

Okay, that's enough for now. Thanks for reading through.

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