The universal editor
February 23, 2012
While watching Bret Victor presenting “Inventing on Principle”, I learnt about Larry Tesler and his strong preference for modeless software. Larry was one of the authors behind Gypsy, pioneering the maybe-not-so-sexy domain of text input. Instead of forcing users to switch between text insertion mode and command modes, Gypsy was always in insertion mode, relying on function keys to perform operations like searching for and replacing text.
While this indeed was a tremendous breakthrough, I’m not sure that it solves the generic problem of working with text insertion/editing on a computer - if you shuffle text all day long, you’ll want most, if not all, of your applications to obey the same function keys. This problem has been solved for the casual user - the operating system has assigned global function keys (and corresponding keyboard shortcuts) for operations that are likely to be invoked by most users. This only scales for so long - remember that most applications provide special functionality that doesn’t exist in other software. This has lead to a somewhat awkward workflow for some people, but what to do? Editing text in one application and then have another application pick up where the editor of choice doesn’t take you seems like a common enough workflow nowadays.
What’s the preferred solution at hand? Enter QuickCursor, a nifty little app that “brings your favorite text editor to any app with a global keyboard shortcut”. While this might sound cheesy, you should definitely spend a minute or two watching this simple video demo that shows its ingenious simplicity.