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Frontend redesign

I must admit that I have always hated the idea of having four kinds of
     symbols between the left margin and the outline text. The left edge is
     extremely valuable real estate for people who read left-to-right, and it
     shouldn't be cluttered.

  Lacking comparative pictures, let me disagree in principle.  The left
  edge is a good place to put buttons and such because they remain in
  the same relationship with the text, no matter what the text is.
  Going to the right margin is much more expensive.

Perhaps I was unclear. I meant the right edge of the window, which is
no harder than going to the left edge.

    ...Since document and outline
    icons are different positions that are associated with their
    semantics, they could just as well be the same icon.  If the document
    icons were at the right edge, then all icons could be triangles (or
    circles, for that matter).

I think that it would be more effective to have two different icons,
so that there are two different ways of knowing which is which.
Otherwise the user might think that there is some connection between
them just because they have the same icon.

     I think the best use of double-clicking on the selection handle (the button
     that is used to concretely manipulate a selection) is to open a new
     document that is linked to that selection with a default link type, like
     "marginal note". This makes it very fast and easy to annotate a document,
     and is conceptually close to the other uses of double clicking.
  This almost works.  The problem is that it is too hard to make
  different types of links.  Consider having a bunch of buttons that
  appear to the side of the selection, one for each of the few frequent
  link-types.  Actually, I prefer having a floating palette from which
  to create the link.  One of the options could be to create a floating
Perhaps we can have a menu in the new document that allows you to
choose the type of link, and it is remembered for the next time you
double-click on a selection.

     If the selection handles are visible in inactive windows (and I think
     they should be), then you can make a link by a modified drag operation
     from one to the other. Hmmm, let's try laying this all out...

  I don't quite get it.  Doe this assume a large screen?

Yep. Wouldn't do you much good on an SE.

     Shift-drag onto text/handle -- link it to the other end.

  Shift drag is already taken for selection extension.  Also remember
  that once you've started dragging it, it's 'deleted' from the orignal
  place.  I wouldn't want to modify the behavior at the beginning of the
  drag based on the destination.

Yeah, I guess we shouldn't use shift-drag. The behaviour is not based
on the destination of the drag, but how you drag it. (The option key
modifiers.) The operation could be made quite obvious my moving the
icon away from its original position for a regular drag, leaving it
there while a copy follows the mouse for an option-drag, and having a
copy following the mouse and connected to the original by a
rubber-band line for a shift-option-drag (link). Again we have the
problem of how to choose a link type. If we want to use these shortcut
link operations, we should have a very easy operation for changing a
link type post hoc.