Re: [dev] TermKit

From: Connor Lane Smith <>
Date: Fri, 20 May 2011 13:26:56 +0100


On 20 May 2011 12:51, David Tweed <> wrote:
> Certainly the general implementation, the language and the
> architecture do seem nasty. OTOH, it always depresses me that it's
> kind of taken as a virtue that the interactive shell and the terminal
> are know almost nothing about each other

fwiw, I agree. TermKit appears to be a very glossy turd, but there are
certainly outstanding issues in our terminals, which is why in Plan 9
they tried to fix them by pairing a plaintext-only Rio term with
graphical windows which actually replace the spawning term. It's not
perfect, but the plaintext / graphics dichotomy does make things
simpler in some ways.

I think the way to solve this problem is not to add structure to pipes
(which tend to be simple to use *because* they have no real
structure), but to allow commands to draw directly to the terminal if
they wanted. So the standard input / output piping system would remain
unchanged, and all commands -- except those which rely on unhygienic
escape codes, like curses -- would work just like normal.

However, if the command would like it could communicate directly to
the term and say "show this diagram", or whatever. The term would
basically be an ever-downward-scrolling canvas, which shows mostly
text but may occasionally display simple graphics too. It would need
some experimentation to find out what the best system would be, but
ultimately it's just the Plan 9 approach except the drawn information
is printed onto the term itself, and thus scrolls with it, rather than
replacing the term entirely.

This doesn't inherently solve every problem you mentioned, David, but
it would probably be a good first step toward an innovative new
terminal, and would be less vain than TermKit's approach.

Received on Fri May 20 2011 - 14:26:56 CEST

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