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Good, easy to use, upstream defaults for zsh (i.e. improving usability)
- X-seq: zsh-workers 21420
- From: Keir Mierle <mierle@xxxxxxxxx>
- To: zsh-workers@xxxxxxxxxx
- Subject: Good, easy to use, upstream defaults for zsh (i.e. improving usability)
- Date: Sun, 10 Jul 2005 18:37:10 -0400
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- Reply-to: Keir Mierle <mierle@xxxxxxxxx>
Zsh is an amazing shell. I've used Zsh for years as my primary shell, and it
has treated me well.
With one problem.
Defaults. Or lack thereof. It is easy to claim that zsh is so customizable that
there cannot possibly be any set of defaults that will satisfy everyone. And
they would be correct. But it is incorrect to say that there cannot be a
default configuration that is superior to the current default, most of the
time, for the vast majority of people.
* Make completions Just Work(TM) out of the box. I suggest common commands
such as 'xpdf' or 'acroread' should complete only .pdf files, or tar only
completing .gz or .bz2.
* When completing commands, list them with one line help summaries from man
pages, like the Friendly Interactive SHell does (fish).
* Add colors or at least boldface to the default prompt. The reasoning behind
this is straightforward--it seperates command output. It is very difficult
to tell where the output of one grep finishes and the other starts without a
The default prompt:
is not very useful.
Something as straightforward as
is much better, especially when it is in bold or colored.
* Extremely controversial: make a 'extract' command that intelligently
handles all sorts of file formats. There is one argument, that says it is
not zsh's place to do this. There is another, that says this is something
zsh could do trivially, is very common, exists in virtually everyone's
.zshrc in one form or another, and could be done once, properly, for the
last time, upstream.
* Extremely controversial: A set of default aliases.
For example, everyone I know who uses zsh has 'll' bound to ls -l. I
suggest adding single letter aliases, 'l' for 'ls', 'p' for ps, or 'e' for
edit (which invokes $EDITOR). There are many possibilities. What I am
suggesting is to take action, make a decision, and make a useful set of
That's right, I'm suggesting taking a stand, and adding useful functionality
to zsh that works out of the box.
* A good intro doc on using zsh interacitvely that goes over things it does
differently from other shells, such as good completion or the above default
aliases. The intro on the zsh website is ok, but it could use some work.
I have other ideas, but the main purpose of this email is to get a feel for
what the zsh developer community thinks about improving the default usability
It is important to note that I am *not* suggesting removing anything from zsh,
or removing any of the customizability-- only that great defaults would make
zsh more popular, more usable, and just plain better (for those who don't want
to spend hours tweaking their shell).
Good defaults benefit power users too, who no longer have to write their own
extract function, or add their own aliases for ls, ps, or whatever.
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