I’ve been taking all my research notes in TextMate for a while now, which, as text editors go, is really way more powerful than what I need. What I like about it, though, is the notion of the “project” — a cluster of text docs that you designate as being somehow related. I have this project called, brilliantly, “notes,” through which I’ve related most of my work-based notes, whether notes on projects, notes from conferences or conference calls, or notes on reading. In the project drawer there are several little folders that group those notes in meaningful ways, and using that drawer, I can open and close whichever of them I need at any given moment. In tabs. That’s the key point: TextMate has tabbed editing windows.

But it’s also got this groovy feature that I’ve been using like crazy in the last few days: completion. Say there’s a word you’ve typed earlier in your document, as you’ve been taking your research notes, and say it’s a word that comes up a lot, and is really annoying to type. Like “antidescriptivism.” Once you’ve typed it once, you can type the first few letters, like “ant,” and then hit the escape key, and TextMate will automatically complete the word with the last word you typed that began with “ant.” But say that the second time I need the word, I actually need “antidescriptivist”? So I complete, I hit backspace and change the “m” to a “t,” and I’m done. Now, the next time I type “ant” and hit escape, TextMate will finish the word with “antidescriptivist,” but if I really wanted “antidescriptivism,” all I have to do is hit escape a second time, to get the second-to-last word I typed that began with “ant.”

This is saving me enormous amounts of time. How much? Enough, I hope, to write this post about it.

4 thoughts on “Completion

  1. Most medievalists I know use the AutoCorrect feature of Word (yeah, I know) as a sort of completion feature. It’s pretty handy to type “xlatn” and get “translation,” “CdT” and get “Cr?™trien de Troyes,” etc.

    Back in OS 9, I had a freeware program called Text-something that did this is all applications, but I’m not aware of an OSX equivalent.

  2. My husband is an English professor, writer of academic papers and books, and a detester of technology. Seems like TextMate would be just the thing for him. Is TextMate friendly enough for a person who uses nothing more elaborate than Word?


  3. Perhaps. It’s just a text editor, though, which I use for note-taking — I had been using Word (with the kinds of fancy auto-correct features that Meg mention), but I frankly got tired of my notes files becoming so weighty because Word was freighting them with a lot of unnecessary data, when all I wanted was the content. (Which is to say, I didn’t need formatting, page layout, etc; all I needed was the text.) My text-only notes files are much, much lighter weight, much more easily transportable, etc. But they’re just text — there’s little to no formatting involved in them. If your husband is looking for a program to take notes in, something like TextMate might be good, but it can’t, unfortunately, replace a full-fledged wordprocessor…

  4. Of course, coupled with a free LaTeX installation, and a little time to figure things out, it is an UNBEATABLE word processing combination. Power, quality, aesthetics, efficiency, lightness …

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