What I would really like to see is more integration between terminal emulator and the shell (and commands you run in it). Currently in Fedora/GNOME the shell prompt is set up to make the terminal notify you (with a native GUI notification) about long running commands completing. That's cool, but we could go so much further.
For one, the shell could let the terminal know the current directory, hostname, username, git branch, current command, last command status, etc. etc.
The terminal then would display that info in its GUI, and perhaps even let you interact with it (imagine a GtkPopover for changing git branches and a Nautilus-like pathbar for the cwd!) We could then shrink back the prompt back to a simple dollar sign.
That would already be infinitely cool, but it gets better.
What if the shell could send its completions to the terminal and the terminal would display them in a native autocomplete widget (like in Builder)?
What if pagers like `less` could make use of the native scrolling instead of faking it by moving lines? What if `man` rendered the content to HTML (or GTK's native markup format) and presented it as an actual page, sort of like what you get by running `yelp man:foo` but right there in the terminal?
What if `ls` could make use of the native list/table widget and render file icons, just like Nautilus? What if you could expand the folders it outputs right there using mouse and get a tree view?
Don't tell me that fish or vim already display completions in a pop-up using some magical pseudographics. I'm not talking about abusing the old grid-of-characters model of terminals. I'm talking about making the shell and the terminal communicate better so we can use *native* (e.g. GTK+) widgets for what is traditionally done using text-based interfaces.
Mind, just like currently `ls` knows to columnize and colorize its output and `grep` knows to highlight the matches in red *when outputting to a terminal*, but fall back to plain text when piped to something, what I'm describing here would simply fall back to plain text when piped or run in a less magical terminal. So this is about enhancing the existing tools, not about breaking compatibility in any way.
And at the same time that would really get the terminal/shell experience from "emulating ancient hardware to be able to do stuff we haven't yet made a GUI for" to "a way to do advanced stuff with your computer using a command-based interface".
That would truly be a command-based interface for the 21th century. That would be something I'd be proud, not ashamed, to show off to Windows users as the advanced way to tune your system.
I've made a mock-up to illustrate my ideas about the next-gen terminal experience!
• the pathbar
• username, hostname and git branch displayed in the UI, shrinking the shell prompt back to just a $
• commands as cards
• syntax highlighting, including graying out the output a bit to differentiate it from commands themselves
• autocompletion (displayed in a native widget)
• built-in error handling options
• the time each command took (on the right)
Since everyone seemed to love my terminal mockups, I've made another one!
This is a further design exploration, showcasing:
• background jobs label/popover
• `ls` displaying an actual list of files! Of course, they are interactive, you can drag'n'drop them from here, click them to open, and right-click for more options.
• autosuggestions being contextual: here, they suggest you to re-run `apt` as root or read the docs
• a collapsed card
• `git` using real graphics
@bugaevc vaguely remember a project like this from a long time ago, an attempt to make the terminal show specific data more "intelligently"
oh found it: https://github.com/unconed/TermKit
(apparently also abandoned since 2011 !)
i guess the closest i otherwise can think of is the ipython-qt console which can show graphs &c inline
@brainblasted I wish! This is just a Glade .ui file plus a .png for the content.
Ask GNOME/Tilix devs/designers if you'd like to get a real-life version of this 😉
@bugaevc if you could have the bash-completion scripts indicate what sense each argument has (flag, file path, bare words), then the display could color / frame them, as well
@mbirth it sends commands to the shell (I imagine some escape sequence-based protocol, but I haven't thought about the specifics too much). See my other replies in this thread where I went into some more details about how this protocol should be shell- and toolkit-independent and how it somewhat resembles DWDs.
@bugaevc Ahh, so it's not a new shell, but some overlay which only works in a GUI? From the screenshots it looked like most features could be woven into a shell and thus be available on many systems without the need for a special terminal software.
@bugaevc have you tired any of the electron terminal applications that offer some of this functionality? If so, did you end up sticking with one?
@david Upterm (née Black Screen) and TermKit (technically web-based but not Electron-based) are the ones I'm talking about, they do offer some of these advanced features.
Hyper & Terminus don't seem to, and I don't see any reason to use them over a native terminal emulator app.
@bugaevc and there are themes for it to do things like displaying the current git branch (and status via colour)
@bugaevc Idle thought: why not make the command grey, leaving white for output? The user knows what they've typed, but doesn't know what the output will be.
@wilfredh I've thought about that too! On the other hand, like half of the commands you type are more important that what they output (if anything), and it wouldn't look as pretty.
But this is just a mockup and I'm just a dev wishing for a better terminal experience, I'd rather let actual designers figure out what looks/works best.
@bugaevc this seems overcomplicated, I'd much rather have something like Acme or Plan 9's rio shells and build these things on top of that
@bugaevc it has a coolness factor to it but I would sleep better if I knew that whoever implemented this took a look at acme and rio first
I think you are undervaluing the efficiency of text.
Compare the logographic below to its (possible) translation:
"If a man utters this spell while pure, it assures going forth by day after his death" (see https://www.quora.com/How-does-Egyptian-hieroglyphics-translation-work for further info and translations).
We have a spacial problem (pixel to meaning ratio), a problem of composability and a problem of interpretation.
IMHO, text centric UI (like #Plan9's one) are simply too ahead of times.
@ckeen @bugaevc idk, I like a lot of the ideas in theory but if it's not as portable and modular as what we currently have, I don't see myself using it anytime soon
i'm not against making UIs better but I'm not sure how I feel about these ideas
how does it compare to what came before? how does it compare to Emacs?
@ckeen @grainloom well, the idea *is* to make it portable. The shell and the terminal emulator would negotiate over some standard escape sequence-based protocol, and that protocol would not be bash- or GTK- specific, it'd work for any toolkit and shell combination. A bit like DWDs if you remember those.
@ckeen @grainloom (if you don't, this is what I'm talking about: https://kver.wordpress.com/2014/10/25/presenting-dwd-a-candidate-for-kde-window-decorations/)
I boosted because I had the exact same reaction of @grainloom : this interface is cool but cannot be done with a shell.
- the pathbar
- folder specific tools (eg git/hg branch displayed in the UI)
but I'd like to retain:
- editable output
- plumber integration
Note that all of this could be built in Jehanne without modifying the shell, but we need a new screen multiplexer (aka rio) that somewhat integrate a text editor (eg sam) and a modified graphical terminal (aka win) to do the integration/framing.
This could hurt network transparency over 9P, though (I'm trying to design my file protocol so that it can preserve such transparency, but it's a loooong process, don't hold your breath).
And this ideas are partly inspired by how Plan 9/acme/rio are all integrated, whereas in today's systems we have a sleek GUI and a powerful CLI that live in very different, disconnected worlds.
It would not be feasible to adopt acme's model directly, because modern interfaces are not all text, so instead, I opted to enhance the CLI UX with modern GUI advancements
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