[OS X Emacs] Information about tabs in Aquamacs 1.4

Robert Morelli morelli at flux.utah.edu
Fri Jul 18 02:05:33 EDT 2008

Nathaniel Cunningham wrote:
>     For instance, is there a way to keep
>     buffers like *Messages* from having a tab?
> tabbar.el allows one to customize which buffers are inhibited from 
> having tabs, but we avoided this kind of behavior in Aquamacs, which 
> treats tabs somewhat differently.  Help me understand what you're 
> after, here.  If *Messages* doesn't get a tab, what happens to the tab 
> bar when you view *Messages*?  Does it appear, but with no selected 
> tab?  Does it disappear -- and if so, haven't you lost part of the 
> utility of tabs, namely a simple way to select a different tab?  If 
> some buffers don't have tabs, there's a break in the intuitive 
> tab<-->buffer connection we've established.  Do explain further the 
> scenario you envision.

This needs to be thought out carefully, of course, but I think almost 
any scheme would be better than the current implementation
that has no customization. At a minimum, I think some kind of simple 
filtering is essential. For instance, I would be happy to have
the ability to suppress all buffers that start with *, except when you 
actually visit them.

As it stands, most of the real estate on the tab bar is taken up by tabs 
for buffers generated by emacs, like *Messages*, *Completions*,
... Each LaTeX file I'm editing has one or more such buffers associated 
with it ... I consider those at best marginally useful. Really, I'd
like to get rid of them.

I'm typically editing about a dozen files at any given time. The tabs 
are not that useful for getting around, since most of the visible tabs are
for buffers I don't usually want to visit. Part of the problem is that 
the tabs are pretty wide since they size to fit the entire buffer name.
By contrast, Firefox tabs can shrink to just a small stub. That's ok 
because you can usually tell what web page it is from the icon. What's
the reasonable thing to do for Aquamacs, where you don't have an icon? 
Maybe just allow abbreviations so you can shrink tabs. Perhaps
set a minimum tab width and keep shrinking them as necessary to fit them 
on the tab bar when more tabs are needed. Only start letting
them overflow off the tab bar when they reach the minimum width and 
there's no more room left.

Note: even if the tabs are small, I still don't want the *Messages* 
buffer to have a tab.

One idea would be to have a hierarchical structure imposed on the 
buffers and use that to do some reasonable filtering of what appears in the
tab bar. For instance, TeX output buffers would be subordinate to the 
associated LaTeX buffers you're actually editing. Generally, only top
level things should be the the tab bar. To get to a subordinate tab, you 
first choose it's top level ancestor. Then do something to drill down.

Obviously, something like that would take a lot of thought and work. In 
the meantime, some kind of crude filtering like described above
would improve things a lot.

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