TKE has support for Vim’s macro recording feature when Vim mode is enabled. Vim macros are basically just a recording of some number of keystrokes that the user used while recording is enabled. These recorded macros can then be “played” at any time which will essentially replay the keystrokes within Vim, allowing you to do a lot of repetitive tasks quite quickly within the editor.
There is support for automatic recording (that is, you can repeat the last Vim command at any time just by pressing the ‘.’ key). You can also repeat the last Vim command-line (started by entering ‘:’ when in COMMAND mode), by entering the ‘@’ key followed by the ‘:’ key.
There is also support for recording to multiple macro “registers”. Each register is named by a single letter of the alphabet (i.e., a-z, A-Z as well as the doublequote (“) character). To begin recording keystrokes to a named register, simply enter ‘q’ (when in COMMAND mode) followed by the name of the register to use and then begin entering the keystrokes that you would like to store in the macro register. When you are done entering keystrokes, enter ‘q’ when in COMMAND mode. While you are recording, the information bar at the bottom of the main window will display the recording status and the name of the macro register being recorded into.
To playback the recorded keystrokes of a register, enter ‘@’ when in COMMAND mode, followed by the name of the register to playback. The keystrokes will be played back immediately.
So if you are Vim user, you probably already know this, but here is the TKE tip for this week….
Vim macros are recordable and usable in any editing buffer within TKE. That means that you could record a macro in one editing buffer and replay that macro in another editing buffer. So if you find yourself performing the same types of tasks in multiple files, do the task once in one buffer and replay the macro in all of the other files. (Insert mind blowing explosion sounds here).
The Vim editor is exceptional in many, many ways, and it has been a staple of many programmers and writers primarily due to its keyboard focused approach to editing and its extensibility and flexibility. Vim is a fantastic editor to use within a terminal because it does not necessitate a graphical user interface and works fairly well when you are spending most of your time within that terminal.
Vim was designed and written at a time when graphical user interfaces were not as mainstream as they are today. I’ll never forget the first few times I attempted to use Vi to edit a file in college. A blank screen with just a cursor staring at me with no instructions for use and, try as I may, typing on the keyboard did practically nothing. I needed to track down someone with knowledge of the editor just to do basic things, and then I needed to commit those first few keystrokes to memory. It’s no wonder that I initially sought out the few graphical editors that were available to me at the time instead of sticking with it. Though Vim’s keyboard-centric editing features, once committed to memory, are incredibly efficient, there are elements of having a graphical user interface that improves on Vim. Ease of learning, discoverability of features, better view modes, and interactions with those features are just some of those improvements.
The marriage of the Vim editing experience and a graphical user interface has been attempted by many editors in the past but many of those editors fall short, relegating Vim mode to a second-class citizen — a plugin of sorts — instead of integrating it into the core experience. There was also many things about gvim (a graphical implementation of a Vim editor) that didn’t seem to work quite right to me.
This is one of the primary reasons TKE was created, to attempt to create a modern editor which integrates deeply with Vim editing functionality. Most editing features added to TKE are implemented for Vim mode first or designed with Vim editing in mind, making sure that Vim editing remains frictionless and central to the TKE editing experience.
If you consider yourself in the Vim camp and are looking for a great graphical Vim editor, give the TKE editor a try. It is hoped that you will find a terrific editing experience with additional superpowers.
To line wrap or to not line wrap, that is the question! For a long time, TKE did not provide the ability to wrap lines. Why? Well, first of all, line wrapped programming code can be a bit hard to read. Second, it is creating an editing view that may be inconsistent with other users of the file, leading to potential formatting issues (this is the same argument as to why TKE generally replaces TAB characters with spaces when editing). Third, adding a feature like line wrapping can lead to some tricky corner cases in code. Finally, and probably not least, there were other features that TKE’s developers wanted to get into the tool before it 🙂 However, the latest version of TKE (3.2 as of this writing) fully supports line wrapping, so let’s briefly go over how you can put it to work.
Line wrapping support is a feature which is enabled/disabled by each programming language syntax file. So a programming language like C++ will have line wrapping disabled by default while a writing language like Markdown will enable line wrapping by default. You can, at any time and with any language, temporarily override the default line wrapping behavior by toggling the state of the View / Line Wrapping menu option. When line wrapping is enabled, lines will wrap at the editing buffer ruler location (which is controllable in the Preferences window in the Editor panel).
If you want the line wrapping behavior to be remembered between invocations of TKE, you can do so in the Preferences window within the View panel. Here you can set how TKE should determine the line wrapping state using the Line Wrapping Default option menu at the bottom of the panel. The three option values are as follows:
syntax: Use the syntax-specified line wrapping indication to dictate if line wrapping should be enabled or disabled.
enable: Always enable line wrapping mode.
disable: Always disable line wrapping mode.
For Vim users, wrapped lines offer a few additional cursor motion commands which are as follows (note that logical lines share the same line number within the file but displayed lines are created due to wrapping):
g0: Moves the cursor to the first character of the currently displayed line.
g^: Moves the cursor to the first non-whitespace character of the currently displayed line.
g$: Moves the cursor to the last character of the currently displayed line.
gm: Moves the cursor to the middle-most character of the currently displayed line.
Once you have “wrapped” your mind around this feature, you can take your editing to new levels of Zen.
I don’t know about you, but in the past, I’ve spent a lot of time editing files where I write a line of code which contains a number, duplicate that line a bunch of times, and then proceed to change the number in each line such that they increment by one. The following animated GIF illustrates the problem.
Wouldn’t it be nice if our editor helped us do this type of enumeration more quickly? With multicursor capability, TKE can make this editing task no longer a chore.
After creating the lines of code and duplicating them, hold the SHIFT and ALT/OPTION keys and click and drag a block selection on the numbers in each line. Once all numbers have been selected, select to the Edit / Insert / Enumeration menu option and enter the number “1” in the field at the bottom of the window followed by hitting the RETURN key. This will cause the first line to be numbered a decimal value of 1 and have each line be incremented by 1. Finally, hit the ESCAPE key to exit multicursor mode.
TKE also supports creating enumerated values for other bases besides decimal, including binary, octal and hexidecimal. Here’s a few other examples of how to specify the starting value (we’ll use our graphical example to show its effect).
“32’dd10” => “This is line 32’d10. This is line 32’d11. This is line 32’d12…”
“b0+2″ => “This is line 0. This is line 10. This is line 100…”
“0oo6” => “This is line 0o6. This is line 0o7. This is line 0o10…”
“0xxf-1″ => “This is line 0xf. This is line 0xe. This is line 0xd…”
“16’hhf” => “This is line 16’hf. This is line 16’h10. This is line 16’h11…” (i.e., ‘x’ and ‘h’ both indicate a hexidecimal number)
By default, if nothing is entered in the number entry field and the RETURN key is pressed, a decimal value of 0 will be used as the starting value.
Special note for Vim users: If you select the numbers using the “s” and “Shift-s” keys to cause multicursors to placed at the beginning of each number, you can use “dn” to delete the number and use “#” (pound key) to bring up the enumeration field. Super quick way to do this type of edit without touching the mouse.
So why risk repetitive strain injury? Use your time and keystrokes to get more complicated things done with TKE.
Whenever you need to open or save a file/directory, the open/save dialog window will display the contents of a directory. Sometimes that directory is the one that you want, but other times you may find yourself constantly using the file system browser features in the dialog window to change the directory. This can get tiresome if you are doing this often, but TKE can offer some help by making the default directory smarter and more customizable.
To change the way TKE chooses the default directory in the open/save dialog windows, head on over to Preferences (Edit / Preferences / Edit User – Global menu option) and go to the General tab within the General panel.
The last option in the tab specifies “Set default open/save browsing directory to:” with a dropdown list containing four options:
Last accessed: TKE will remember the last directory that was in use in an open/save dialog window and use that directory as the default directory the next time the open/save dialog window is used.
Current editing buffer directory: The directory containing the file which is the current editing buffer will be used as the default directory.
Current working directory: The current working directory will be used as the default directory. The current working directory is always displayed in the title bar of the main window and can be changed at any of the methods discussed in our Current Working Directory post.
Use directory: When this option is selected, a directory selection window will be displayed. Use it to navigate to the directory that you want to use as the default directory for subsequent open/save dialogs. The selected directory name will be displayed in the preferences window.
You can change this preference option at any time and, like most TKE preference changes, its selected value will be immediately applied within TKE.
If you using TKE in Vim mode, you can also change this option without needing to open Preferences. Just use the :browsedir value (or :bsdir value) command option and in place of value, use the values of:
last: Same as “Last accessed”.
buffer: Same as “Current editing buffer directory”.
current: Same as “Current working directory”.
Or specify the absolute or relative pathname of the directory to use.
Note that changing the default directory using the Vim command will not be remembered when you quit TKE (the preferences value will be the one used upon application startup), so using this method is a terrific way to temporary override the current behavior.
Everyone seems to have their own favorite editing preferences regarding things like:
Should tabs be converted to spaces?
How many spaces should be used if I hit the tab key?
How many spaces should be for an indentation?
And so on and so forth.
Most editors, including TKE, allow you to specify these various editing preferences to your individual liking, but how should these settings be handled if you are sharing a file with a wider audience? If everyone uses different values and makes edits to the file, the structure of the file is going to look really bad, making the code harder to read and understand.
In smaller circles, you could make a “rule” that everyone must never use tab characters, but this rule is hard to enforce, especially in a larger audience.
Fortunately, for most editors that support Vim, which includes TKE, there is the concept of the Vim modeline. This is a line towards the top or bottom of a file which tells the editor how to handle formatting for the given file. These formatting options are specific to the file and will not mess up your preference values.
To create a Vim modeline to your file, it is best to put it inside a comment block in either the first or second line of the file or at the very bottom of the file. TKE allows you to specify how many lines at the top or bottom of the file to look for a modeline.
The following graphic shows an example of what a modeline might look like:
This example modeline sets the file format (endline character) to use the unix format, sets the shiftwidth value to 4 spaces and forces the editing buffer to treat the file as Tcl syntax.