What do you call an instance of the thingie below the tab?


I’ve had trouble when discussing the thingie that holds the editor text and selected by a tab. I’ve seen many terms and so far I have randomly used different ones …

  • Tab: This is wrong because a tab is the little thing at the top
  • Editor: This is wrong because at times the contents are not an editor. It can even be a webpage (grin). Also all of Atom is an editor.
  • Item: This is what it is called in the code. The fact that such a meaningless term was used means the coder also didn’t know what to call it.
  • Page: I can’t think of anything wrong with this term but no one would call it a page.
  • File: Again, not always a file.

Any suggestions? Maybe a poll?


In many other editors (especially vim and emacs) it is referred to as a “Buffer”. But this also implies (though more softly than “editor”) that the content is editable. It is also a term that, because of its heritage from older editors, is associated with text which might be confusing for some when used in conjunction with other things.

Personally, I would call it a “View”. We have the Tree View, the Settings View (which is also contained within a tab). And the term is generic enough without going all the way down the generic path to “Item”.

Non text buffers

Buffer doesn’t work for a non-vim user like me. I can only think of an actual buffer in memory.

A view sounds good although it has a different meaning in the code.

Maybe call it a “Tab View”? That sounds the best so far.


Well, the name is apropos because that’s what they signify … because in vim and emacs a buffer may be associated with a file on disk, but they don’t have to be. They are simply a buffer in memory that happens to contain some text that may or may not match the contents of a file. It allows for some flexibility of certain concepts, but makes other aspects of managing open views more complicated for new users. This is why, in my opinion, the concept has been almost universally abandoned not only by more modern text editors but by document-oriented applications in general.

If you mean to specifically call out Views that are owned by a Tab, then yes, that would work. But there are also Views that are not contained within Tabs such as the Markdown PreView or the Tree View, which are contained directly within Panes. If you mean to include them in your concept as well … then the term Tab View wouldn’t work. Also, the tabs package can be disabled, in which case the View is contained directly within a Pane … and it is conceptually the same thing.


That’s why Emacs uses this term: it’s a buffer in memory, and after you save it, it’s also in the file.


[quote=“kgrossjo, post:5, topic:12766”]
: it’s a buffer in memory

Well actually I was working on view-tail-long-file when I asked this and that package is disk-based with no text in memory. A minor detail. I view Atom as more than a programming editor. It is a platform that can easily run apps like the web-browser package.


I’ve put a little bit more thought into this. So here my very humble opinion: Somehow, because Atom is associated with web technologies, one of the things I associate with the word “tab” is a tab in a browser. And everyone expects the handle at the top to be associated with the content at the bottom, and people speak of the “GMail tab” or the “Atom discussions tab”, and what they mean is not just the handle, but also the content. In fact, I’d rather say it’s primarily the content and the handle at the top is secondary.

So I’m thinking that “tab” is actually not that bad a name.


I understand what you are saying and it is definitely the right name for the user of a web browser. In the very specialized case of discussing Atom elements in this forum it is a tiny bit ambiguous,

I’ve settled on “Tab Item”. It is a tab, like you say, but it is further qualified by what it is called in the core source code.

Now, what should we call the actual tab at the top? Calling it just tab would confuse web users. Maybe “Tab Tab”? (grin)


Should I bite? Okay, I’ll bite. How about “tab handle”?