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Re: Modernize frame-title-format: "%b - GNU Emacs"

From: Pip Cet
Subject: Re: Modernize frame-title-format: "%b - GNU Emacs"
Date: Thu, 27 Aug 2020 17:06:26 +0000

On Thu, Aug 27, 2020 at 9:19 AM Eli Zaretskii <eliz@gnu.org> wrote:
> > I personally think it makes sense to just do what other modern software
> > does here, but Eli felt that we need more opinions before making any
> > change

I strongly disagree with that argument, and weakly disagree with the conclusion.

GNU software is very different from most software in that it is not
attentionware: It is provided in the hope that it will be useful.

Other software, apart from some but by no means all of the software
you pay for, is distributed in exchange for human attention.  (In
fact, with so much of it being hosted on Cloudflare servers, you're
expected to "prove that you are human" to even access it.) You can
often configure it not to bombard you with what is essentially
advertising, but it is correctly assumed that most people don't have
the time to do that, and it is not made easy to do so.

We're already exposing users to a lot of "branding": if you type
"emacs" and hit enter, there's the logo, the start-up message, and the
splash screen, to list only those things that are impossible for
normal users to avoid. "Branding" the frame title, even if we know the
name of the file being edited, would certainly be another entry in
that list.

The right fix for this is for Emacs, along with all other
applications, to obey system/session/user policy about how much
"branding" the user wants. By the time a user learns enough about
Emacs to configure the frame title, they'll already have logged many
hours of using it. I propose we make Emacs obey an environment
variable, or whatever mechanism is appropriate, informing us about the
user choice in that matter, and to err distinctly on the side of not
displaying "Emacs" all over the place.

> I'd actually encourage people to think what would be useful to show
> there, not necessarily how to follow others' suit.  What does this
> addition add to the information displayed on the GUI terminal, and how
> will it be useful -- that's the kind of arguments that I hoped to see.

I don't think that question can be answered categorically for all
users. I don't even think it would be acceptable to go with a default
setting if it were easy to customize this, and it's not (M-x customize
RET frame title RET doesn't work). This really is a question that the
user wants to answer once, for all applications, just like they're not
expected to choose a new keyboard layout for each application: how
many unilateral messages containing nothing but a reminder of which
software you're using and who made it do you want to receive?

This really isn't for us to decide, it should be up to the X window
manager or desktop environment, or whatever equivalent Wayland has. In
the absence of a good working mechanism to learn about the user
choice, let's go with an environment variable. I'd certainly welcome
the ability to type "export BRANDING=none" and have GNU software (I
wouldn't expect other software authors to follow suit) respect it.

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