Subject: Re: delete and backspace...
To: NetBSD-current Discussion List <current-users@NetBSD.ORG>
From: Greg A. Woods <>
List: current-users
Date: 08/18/1999 19:44:26
[ On Saturday, August 14, 1999 at 16:44:10 (+1200), Dave Sainty wrote: ]
> Subject: Re: delete and backspace... 
> I think that is like saying that the Page Up key should only output
> the Page Up character. :)

Well, actually yes, if you s/character/character sequence/.

This is where the default screen emultation comes into play though --
the character sequence generated by a *function* key should match that
expected by the terminal emulation.  If it's a vt220 emulation then the
page-up key should generate the same sequence a page-up key on a vt220
terminal would generate.

> You could push that line, but outputting ASCII BS on the key that's
> positioned where the erase key historically sits is always a PITA.

There are a large number of ways to make your particular keyboard
perform in the way you personally prefer it to perform, especially if
you're using X11 under NetBSD or similar.  If you don't want to change
your keyboard (or system in the case of PCs), or fix the way it works to
match your ingrained habits, then that's tough!  ;-)

> I do think its unfortunate that PC keyboards labeled the erase key
> "backspace", which causes great confusion due to the ASCII character
> of the same name (which is NOT an erase character).

Traditionally the ASCII backspace character is a physical device
control.  It is intended to move the output device (or cursor or
whatever these days) to the next "previous" position.

Technically speaking the "erase" *sequence* was "BS [...] DEL", i.e. you
had to backspace to the character to be deleted, and then delete it by
pressing the "rubout" key (teletypes and paper tape punch machines were,
if I'm not mistaken, the first ones to use ASCII codes).

The contraction of this sequence into either one or the other of its
components is the true source of the confusion and I really don't care
which camp anyone hails from, or why, but only the fact that some
keyboard (and/or system) designers have made this choice despite our
personal opinions and habits and I feel that our software should reflect
the default meanings given by the keyboard, not by any one user's
personal habits, not even if the majority of users happens to hail from
the opposite camp that the designers of their keyboards did.

							Greg A. Woods

+1 416 218-0098      VE3TCP      <>      <robohack!woods>
Planix, Inc. <>; Secrets of the Weird <>