Feeds

Six things a text editor must do - or it's a one-way trip to the trash

Does your source code editor pass the Verity test?

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

The TADREP Test

6. The Tedious And Domain Related Editing Pattern. This is the big one. This is where good programmers' editors really get to show that there are more than just text controls, elaborately decorated with pretty colours and more unused features than Word.

TADREP is a pattern never seen in programming tutorials, but in actual programming-for-money it occurs quite frequently. It comprises taking a block of domain-sourced text like this

0001, 3000, Adam, London
0002, 1000, Bonnie, Manchester
0003, 2000, Catherine, Edinburgh
0004, 3000, David, New York
continues like this for 20 more lines)

and munging it into code of some sort:

db.add("0001", "Adam", "London", 3000);
db.add("0002", "Bonnie", "Manchester", 1000);
db.add("0003", "Catherine", "Edinburgh", 2000);
db.add("0004", "David", "New York", 3000);
et cetera

(Counter nosepick: I realise this isn't a very good example. I couldn't think of one, ok? You do know what I mean, really.)

I claim there are three common ways of achieving this:

  1. Knife-and-forking it by hand, the Yvonne Gumby approach, which is not really on if you have more than three lines;
  2. Contriving some sort of regex search-and-replace, in which case Zawinski's Observation Applies; or
  3. Recording a keyboard macro which, by a very cunning selection of keystrokes, will apply to all the lines that need to be manipulated. Then play it back as many times as needed. Then go back, and fix all the lines it has stuffed.

TextPad has an excellent search-and-replace dialog (non-modal, but goes translucent when it doesn't have focus, so can be left open without getting in the way). Its regexs, however, smell of mothballs. These are formulated to some ancient POSIX standard that omits, for example, the \w character class that everybody enjoys complaining about. Its keyboard macros are adequate.

Sublime recovers some marks for offering the full Perl regex syntax - mysteriously, few editors seem to do this, given that most programming languages now throw it in for free. And, yes, it lets you record keystroke macros.

However, it also offers a whole new way of tackling TADREP.

Danger, gusher

OK, turn down your sensitivity, and lock your British sense of embarrassment into the upright position. I am going to have to do something rather unusual here. I am going to express naked, uncynical enthusiasm.

Sublime's multiple cursor feature is completely top. You select a block of text, press Ctrl + Shift + L (if you are following along on your Mac, just press squiggle squoggle shift Home), and now you have a separate cursor on every line in the block. As you move left or right, they all march together. Cut out a block and paste it somewhere else on the line, and it is repeated n times for n different blocks. Typed characters go in on every line, and Ctrl + Z also operates in parallel.

This is powerful, simple, clever and I have never seen it done quite like this before. Sublime has penetrated my battle-hardened crust. Restore its million points, Mr Scoreboard Runner, and bring me the final results.

Judgment of Verity

I only really performed this test to frighten TextPad into better behaviour in future. The threat of replacement is a more satisfying way of achieving improved performance from applications than conventional techniques such as upgrading or reporting bugs, and approximately as effective.

However, now that I have spent time with Sublime, I confess I will keep it on my hard disk for its show-stopping gadgets, and will in due course register it (they want $70 a shot for a multiplatform licence, which seems reasonable). Damnit, fallen for another gadget.

Post Script: shortly after I wrote the above, we found a bug in a logger which, to my chagrin, I could coax neither TextPad nor Sublime to identify. However, Dave loaded the log file into Notepad++ and displayed it like this:

<Rolf>Can you tell what the problem is yet?</Rolf>

Worse even than this humiliation of my favourites, the bug was initially discovered by my boss. And he first noticed something amiss with the line endings while poking around in - and, dammit, I swore I wasn't going to use this word - while poking around in...

Notepad. ®

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
Whoah! How many Google Play apps want to read your texts?
Google's app permissions far too lax – security firm survey
Chrome browser has been DRAINING PC batteries for YEARS
Google is only now fixing ancient, energy-sapping bug
Do YOU work at Microsoft? Um. Are you SURE about that?
Nokia and marketing types first to get the bullet, says report
Microsoft takes on Chromebook with low-cost Windows laptops
Redmond's chief salesman: We're taking 'hard' decisions
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
Big Blue Apple: IBM to sell iPads, iPhones to enterprises
iOS/2 gear loaded with apps for big biz ... uh oh BlackBerry
OpenWRT gets native IPv6 slurping in major refresh
Also faster init and a new packages system
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.