[HP-Prime] Lack of user soft keys


I've been playing with the Prime emulator a lot. Its a very clean design.

I am lamenting the lack of soft keys though. Yes there is a user assignable keyboard but that's not the same thing as seeing a *visual* menu of softkey choices.

VIEWS: The customisable view menu doesn't substitute for real soft keys because view functions can't accept or return values. So you can't have a view menu item called 'add1' which you know will take the number off the stack and add one to it, and return it.

TOOLBOX BUTTON: The only workaround I can think of is to hit the toolbox button and you will see a list of user programs. Assuming that was the last menu you accessed whilst in toolbox view. Thus you can 'visually see all the programs' - a bit like soft keys :). I guess that isn't too bad. Then you hit down arrow several times to get to your choice, or hit an integer number shortcut, and the program name appears on the command line. (Note the alphabetic shortcuts e.g. "A" don't work for me in the emulator).

PROGRAM LIST VIEW: Of course the other way is to hit SHIFT Program to see the list of user programs, then use down arrow to select it (you can't touch it directly because that gets you into the editor) then hit the "Run" softkey.

ENTERING PARAMETERS: I have already written about the shenanigans you have to go through to get parameters in place in textbook entry mode, double tapping on parameters and adding commas manually. Livable with, and I'm not sure how else one would have done it, in textbook mode. In RPN mode its faster as the parameters are on the stack ready to go, so you can just hit enter - after you get the text command onto the stack (either by typing it, selecting it from a menu, or by hitting a user assignable key which spits out the text of the command).

SUMMARY: Am I missing something? In Home view there are 5 empty softkey positions that are blank (Sto> takes up the first position). Isn't this just crying out for user defined custom softkeys? Even softkeys that bring up other custom menus!? (that's an exciting thought). Its just wasted space otherwise. Its like the designers of the Prime took away one of the most distinctive and useful features of HP calculators of recent years (custom soft keys) and yet left us with juicy blank softkey positions in home view that are totally unused and empty. Just sitting there.

I accept that perhaps the current design is more open ended, text based, straightforward. Maybe custom soft keys are a feature that would add too much conceptual clutter - its like Steve Jobs trimming features so that the rest of the design remains elegant and clean. Not sure. Thanks for reading (if you got this far!).


Maybe they are left open for future use...


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