Monday, October 14, 2013

Chromebook Addendum (JEdit)

Just a little bit ago I finally posted an article on my buying and setting up a Chromebook.  There are two addenda.  One thing I forgot to add, and one thing that's just changed.

First, I forgot to mention how much easier it was wiping the thing clean with a recovery USB stick.  It allowed me to play around with the OS and configuration quite a bit, and all I had to do in order to go back to stock was plug in the USB stick and hit the right keys while I was booting the thing up.  Also, you have to have the device in developer mode in order to boot another OS.  Using the recovery USB doesn't take you out of developer mode, so don't waste the time accidentally turning off developer mode and then turning it back on again like I did a few times (it can take a while).

Now, I mentioned that I'd landed on Bluefish as my text editor of choice in Ubuntu because Notepad++, my usual editor, is Windows only.  Here are my requirements for a text editor:

-Code folding (ideally user customizable)
-Inline spell checker (not a deal breaker, but it's nice)
-Word count
-Time and Date stamp
-Tabbed documents
-File browser in side pane (takes me back to when I used two-pane outliners exclusively)
-Split view (with the ability to view a different file in each view, Bluefish can't do this but it can run two instances at once, which works)
-Not a deal-breaker, but I also like a backup system that automatically saves a copy of my current document in another directory.  This saved my ass once when my cloud sync utility hiccuped and overwrote all my files with older versions from a recently re-commissioned laptop.

(Ideally, whenever I save a document, my text editor saves a copy to a local folder that's not in my cloud synced folder.  That backup folder does get automatically copied into a new date-stamped zip file that is synced to cloud storage.  My backup system is complicated, but unfortunately every step was made necessary by losing work or very nearly losing work in the past.)

Bluefish meets all of the necessary requirements.  However, it doesn't have any shortcut keys to fold or unfold a block of text, and I couldn't see any way to set one up.  It constantly asks me if I want to split lines that are "too long" (though I've never had any performance issues) when opening certain files, and I can't figure out how to disable that prompt.  It also keeps a hold on the ALT key, so the ALT+arrow combinations I set up won't work, nor will ALT+Backspace emulate the delete key.  It doesn't let you customize it's time stamp (although it does give you many options).  Finally, when you do a word count, it displays the total in the status bar.

Having the word count in the status bar is actually cool because it doesn't create up a pop-up window you have to close.  Unfortunately I do a lot of work with two windows open side-by-side, and I can't actually see the word count in the status bar if Bluefish is tiled to one side of the screen.  I have to maximize the window, do a word count, then re-tile it.

Oh, and Bluefish also gets finicky if you try to have text in the same line as a folding symbol.  Sometimes it seems like you can make it work, but once you close and re-open the file, the folding symbols are ignored if there's any other text on the same line, even just behind the symbols.

None of these things are in and of themselves deal breakers, in fact I've been happily and productively using Bluefish for months.  But, just this week I was looking up something, probably trying once again to assign shortcuts to folding and unfolding lines (I'm a proper folding nut) and I started looking at JEdit.  I've tried JEdit a handful of times before and dismissed it, though I couldn't tell you why.  Maybe it was a little over-complicated for me at the time and I had to build up to it.  I've been playing with JEdit for a little bit now, and it actually fulfills all of my requirements just a little better than Bluefish does.

Also, as I was looking through the plugins and searching for "Outline' just to see what came up, I found a plugin called...wait for it..."Outline"!  Outline is a plugin that works with another plugin, Sidekick.  Outline can dock to the side of your text window.  It's a tree view (outline style, of course) that shows all your fold marks, and you can easily navigate between your folds by clicking on them.  This is a feature I'm familiar with.  Scrivener does something similar, and it's something I've wanted in a text editor for a while (Scrivener is of course not a text editor but a word processor, it's awesome, and no offense is intended).

So, even though Bluefish is really cool and I've gotten a lot of work done with it, JEdit seems to fit my purposes a bit better.  I might even start using it instead of Notepad++ on my Windows PC.  Maybe.

Til then,


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