Software things that irritate me

  1. Text editors without built-in auto spell checkers.  This feature might have been derided by editors and others as superfluous; but it is an essential component for quick and professional communications.  That is, I want to know when I’ve misspelled a word right after I type it.  Catching small typos in a quick, second pass read, especially for certain classes of errors.
  2. Software that doesn’t know about it’s content.  It astounds me that Latex editors often refuse to understand a Latex document.  When I type \begin{tabular} \end{tabular}, how about giving me a small editable region where I can enter and design a table?  No, this isn’t necessary for simple tables for latex gurus, but for a complicated table, it would sure be handy.  This operation just eliminates certain hassles.  Note that the software SHOULD ALWAYS interpret a pure textural entry and map it to the graphical assist.  Also, I don’t want some silly GUI like Lyx.  Software should UNDERSTAND a standard way of doing things instead of trying to force you to understand its way of doing things.  HTML editors are slightly better in this regard as they let you quickly switch between source and live previews — or sometimes even keep both live!
  3. Software that things LONG text lines are a good idea.  Seriously folks, there is a reason that typographers state a line ought to be 65-72 characters.  It’s because it’s easy to follow while reading.  How many times do I have to get lost reading a document and highlight a portion of a line I’m on just to be able to follow the text?  Wouldn’t making good paragraph breaking software for text editors be a good idea?  In fact, some software development guidelines strongly suggest a 79 character line.  How about good auto-breaking algorithms?

I suspect the reason that we don’t see these features is that they are HARD!  It isn’t something that’s easy to bang out.  But they are features that elevate software from good to great.  And that difference is a gulf few software programs surpass.

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2 Responses to Software things that irritate me

  1. I mostly concur, but never actually gave it a second thought since I started using Vim. I would not want to start an editor war here all over again, but with Vim and Emacs becoming available for all platforms, I thought the search for editors was more or less over?

    Which editor do you use?


    • dgleich says:

      I use a variety of editors. Mainly determined by the task I’m doing. Kile for latex, various editors for C or C++, the Matlab editor for M-code, dreamweaver for HTML code, etc.

      vim and emacs are too locked into the terminal history of the past. (And yes, I know about the superficial GUIs wrapped around them.)

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