Accelerators missing from dialogs in KDE 4.3

Ingo Klöcker kloecker at
Fri Jul 31 20:45:11 BST 2009

On Wednesday 29 July 2009, Chusslove Illich wrote:
> > [: Richard Dale :]
> > I personally think the whole concept is broken of having letters
> > underlined in menu items to denote which key you need to press with
> > alt. And the underlines look really ugly [...] Is there really no
> > better way of invoking menu items from the keyboard than by using
> > alt + 'a fairly random character' ?
> I agree with you, though not only from aesthetic point of view, but
> also due to difficulty of resolving clashes when programming, and yet
> more so when translating, as dicussed so far in the thread.
> I personally contend that the "mnemonic" bit about accelerators is
> overrated, even going as far as labeling it useless. I've no hard
> proof to back this up; I think the proof (or disproof) could be
> provided by measuring and comparing amount of accelerator usage among
> German and Japanese users (both countries at similar development
> level, German users have all-mnemonic accelerators, Japanese
> all-nonmnemonic).
> Asuming for a moment that mnemonics in this case is indeed useless,
> my perfect handling of accelerators would look like this:
> * Programmers manually assign accelerators only for some widely used
> labels (e.g. "Case Sensitive"). All other accelerators are
> automatically assigned. (Same as Stephan argues.)
> * However, manually assigned accelerators are not specified by
> putting anything into the text label itself, but in some other way.
> * Translators thus do not see nor deal with accelerators at all;
> accelerator markers fall out of realm of translation (just like the
> shortcuts are now).
> * Users see accelerators only if they want to use them, and not shown
> all the time. Possibly something happens when the user presses the
> Alt key in applicable context?
> Middle of the road solution for the few manually assigned
> accelerators would be to still specify accelerator in the label
> (either for implementation reasons, or to allow translators to adapt
> them), but in a highly formulaic fashion, such that it's stripped
> before the label is actually shown. Perhaps the CJK system "...(&X)"
> would do, though it looks too much like part of the text (which it no
> longer would be!); perhaps "...~&X", or whatever.

I'm wondering whether a completely different approach would be possible: 
Substring matching, i.e. after opening a menu one types part of the 
menu entry one wants to execute. The matching letters of all matching 
menu entries would be highlighted (as with spotlight on Mac). Tab would 
allow switching between several matching entries. Space and Enter would 
execute the selected option. This approach should also work for Asian 

Of course, this approach does not provide the efficiency of single-key 
acceleration. And maybe it isn't all that useful because except for a 
minority of keyboard lovers (who really want single-key accelerators) 
most users will anyway use the mouse to select something in a menu.

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