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RFC #0002: Standard key bindings


This document is currently only a draft and as such will most likely change before it is accepted as an official specification. It might also be deprecated if a better approach has been found in the mean time, and doesn't necessarily correspond precisely with the current implementations.


  • FIX:

    LAMIGA+M = next screen (+shifter version) LAMIGA+N = switch Workbench screen / active screen LAMIGA??? = next / prev window

There was some more discussion about this on IRC, so I have updated this document. Changes done since last version:

  • Changed the completion key binding from ALT+TAB to CTRL+SPACE. The reason for this is that ALT+TAB is commonly used the switch windows, a key binding that the user might want to use. Choosing CTRL+SPACE as a replacement comes from the fact that it is used as a completion key binding in some IDE's, so it's not totally new.
  • Added key bindings for switching screens and windows, inspired by the key bindings in AmigaOS.

Open issues:

  • What should we call the "AMIGA"/"META" keys? Calling them "META" is more platform independent, but "AMIGA" is more, well, Amigaish. Or perhaps we should call them "AROS"? ;-)
  • Should ALT+TAB be bound to switching windows by default? Doesn't feel very Amigaish, and should we not educate new users into the "Amiga way" of things?


  • Decide on the issues above. :)
  • Since the document probably will become larger, a better structure would be good. Separate into application domains, put rationale for key bindings in separate section and so on.

ARFC-0002: Standard AROS Key Bindings

This document specifies standard key bindings in the AROS user interfaces. More specifically, it currently specifies what default key bindings should be used for switching between gadgets in a GUI and which to use for completion of strings, e.g. filenames. In the future, more key bindings could be specified here.

Of course, all key bindings in the system should be configurable by the user. This document merely specifies the defaults the system should come with, and the classes of key bindings that should be available. The main idea here is to be orthogonal, consistent and user-friendly. Thus, there should be as few exceptions to the general rules as possible, preferably none.

Unless otherwise noted, all key bindings defined here also have an alternate form. If the SHIFT key is used in conjunction with the key binding, it should have "opposite" meaning. E.g., if CTRL+TAB means "select next gadget" then CTRL+SHIFT+TAB means "select previous gadget".

The following key bindings have been decided upon:

Keys Action
CTRL+TAB Select next gadget [1]
TAB Select next gadget [2]
CTRL+SPACE Completion; show next match [3]
LAMIGA+M Switch to next screen
LAMIGA+N Switch to next window
[1]These key bindings must always work, hence a gadget or application should never intercept these input events.

These key bindings should work in most cases, but gadgets or applications are allowed to intercept these input events for their own use. A typical example would be an editor gadget, where you want to be able to insert tabs (e.g. for indenting the text).

Thus, the user can most of the time use the quicker TAB key binding, but might sometimes need to use CTRL+TAB. However, since CTRL+TAB always works, the user can always use CTRL+TAB if he/she prefers it for consistency.


Completion means that the application tries to complete a string, based on what the user has written before, by using some sort of database or internal knowledge. Typical examples would be filename completion in the Shell, file requester string gadgets, URL completion in web browser string gadgets, and intelligent completion of function names in an editor for programmers.

The reason for choosing CTRL+SPACE rather than TAB, which is traditionally used in different shells, is that it would clash with the definitions above. Also, CTRL+SPACE is already used as a completion key binding in several IDEs.

Defining CTRL+SPACE as a generic completion key binding that can be used anywhere leads to a more consistent and more user-friendly user interface.

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