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 the terminal could track where the output of each command is and allow you to collapse/expand it with a GtkExpander? What if it could visually present each command and its output as this expandable card, along with the time it was issued and the time it took to run (like `time` outputs) and its exist code? And if it failed, paint that card red? And if it segfaulted, add a button to duck duck go the error, run ABRT or even run dnf debuginfo-install and coredumpctl gdb?
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 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.
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