Text Trix helps me code

I've asked myself many times why I've written a text editor when there are literally hundreds of other text editors out there, many much more sophisticated than Text Trix probably ever will be. What about JEdit, with syntax highlighting and an extensive plug-in model? Or Vim, which becomes Very IMproved over and over and over again? And why not trusty Emacs, in which I used to do all my coding?

In short, I realized that I continue to code for Text Trix because I like to code in Text Trix. I've tweaked and continue to tweak and add new features relevant to what, in my experience, I find myself needing as a programmer. And I leave out what, in my experience, I haven't needed as a programmer.

The result is an editor for the needs of a unique subset of coders. Text Trix will probably never be as easy as Microsoft Word is to write documents, or as powerful as Emacs or Vim are to write code, but it also isn't as simplistic as Notebook is for writing a webpage, or as heavy and complex as Eclipse is for writing a straightforward program. The goal of Text Trix is the same as that of Text Flex: to write and manipulate text with ease and flexibility. Like the command line, it's all about the text, but unlike the command line, it should be easy and intuitive to use.

It may help to highlight some of the latest features of Text Trix, ones that have helped me recently in a quest to make another Text Flex program, tXtFL, easier and more flexible to use. These features are from the latest beta release, 0.7.0beta1.

Group tabs have made life definitely easier. I have enough tabs open as is in the tXtFL tab...imagine if I had all the tabs from Text Trix, CCF, Sonrise, etc. all together at once? I spent the last several years working with just that, which made the Forward and Back tab navigational shortcut feature imperative, but Tab Groups have made things simply simpler.

Line Dance is the latest addition to our collection of navigational tools. I almost forgot about this one during my initial tXtFL update. But during debugging, I realized why Line Dance came to be—it can be a pain finding and re-finding lines throughout files thousands of lines long. Some text editors have have syntax highlighting to make it easier to spot new functions, and I remember Eclipse having a forward and back line navigation system. The intention of Line Dance is simplicity: remember a line, migrate somewhere else, and then "dance" back to the remembered line. Naming the lines means you don't have to remember line numbers anymore.

Another reason it took me awhile to remember to use Line Dance was because of another recently added feature to address a different but related task—finding words and line numbers directly. Word Find is similar to Find As You Type in Mozilla Firefox, or a predecessor in Vim. What's got me hooked on Find As You Type in my browser is that anytime I'm looking for a word, I just type it, and—voila—I'm there. No opening a find box, no clicking on "Find Next," but just type.

In Text Trix there's one slight modification, simply because "just typing" would mean editing the text. Instead, I place my cursor in the little Word Find box and type away. It brings me to the first instance of the word, and typing F3 (a la Firefox) takes me to the next. Word Find becomes particularly important when looking for a function or instances of a variable. In Eclipse, I can look for the function in a list, but here is a multi-purpose mechanism that, while not as elegant, hopefully serves its purpose.

Line Find is similar, but more important during debugging. Believe it or not, earlier versions of Text Trix didn't even keep track of line numbers (now on the left hand side), which meant that if the compiler told me I had a bug on line 2548, I had to scroll in that general direction and look for the function. Later, I could click my cursor on various lines until I got close and recognized it myself, but now I just type in the line number, and I'm there. Such an easy feature, and I have yet to see another one-stop mechanism like this. (But I haven't used another text editor besides Text Trix in awhile, so correct me if I'm wrong!)

Text Trix aims to meet the needs of those who like to work with text in its barest simplicity, without its bitter complexity. It's meeting my current needs, and I hope that it will meet yours as well.


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