Tech Blog

Saving time with Text Replacement utilities

by Retired Blogger on ‎10-28-2010 09:21 PM - last edited on ‎05-01-2012 06:41 AM by Retired Moderator

lorem.jpg

 

I write a lot. Blog posts, proposals, reports, reviews, email...you get the picture. Often times I end up creating new documents that share similar format or content, and I cut-and-paste from older docs into newer ones. But I’m lazy, and always looking for easier ways to get the job done...
 
I’m Lazy
Over the past year I’ve been slowly learning how to save time and keystrokes by using text expansion software. In the old days we called them Macro keys.
 
Basically, what you do is create a database of commonly typed words, phrases or layouts and assign unique key triggers to each snippet of text. For example, I usually sign my email thusly:
 

--

Brad Grier

----------

Brad Grier Consulting

Lifestyle Technology & Community Media


     
Lots of characters and formatting, no?  Here’s the cool thing, all I typed to get that email signature was ‘.mysig’ (minus the single quotes). The software did the rest.
 
Another example? Sure!
Ok, the bright ones amongst you will be emailing me to say that most common email programs have a place for a signature, and it’s automated whenever you compose a new email. True. Save you’re email. But this was just one example. Here’s another.
 
Let’s say you’re a web designer, and you use common CSS or HTML snippets. It’s a simple matter to add this code to the database, and call it with a few keystrokes. This Lorem Ipsum layout text block, for example:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nunc mattis arcu sed quam tincidunt et lobortis nunc volutpat. Phasellus lacinia nulla quis lectus molestie in commodo mauris blandit. Nullam in vestibulum velit. Donec libero est, volutpat non accumsan ac, rutrum vitae odio. Curabitur pretium mauris non nisi vestibulum tincidunt. Aenean tristique quam sapien, vel dapibus ligula. Maecenas commodo faucibus pulvinar. Donec eleifend ante eget purus luctus ultrices. Nulla quis sem magna, eget feugiat dui. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Etiam sodales enim in dui ultrices in dapibus ligula porta. Aenean adipiscing ipsum id massa luctus vel suscipit metus elementum. Morbi venenatis mauris eget metus tincidunt luctus eget quis elit. Cras eget ligula quis diam pharetra luctus vel ut tortor.

 
That was generated by me typing ‘.lorem’ and hitting the Tab key. Much easier than pasting it in from the .txt doc I keep in my design snippets directory.
 
As well, text replacement software can easily automagically enter other dynamic data such as the current date (.d) [ Thursday, October 28, 2010  ] or time (.t) [ 10:09 PM ] in a bunch of formats. You get the idea.
 
The Software 
On windows, I’d recommend the free Texter program, created by LifeHacker editor Adam Pash. And lookie here, there’s a video:

 
For iPhone and iPad, I use TextExpander Touch. Same features, with a few extra bells and whistles such as application integration.
 
For OSX, I don’t have one. I don’t do any writing on our Mac, it’s my wife’s computer :smileyhappy: But TextExpander Touch has a counterpart (called TextExpander, of course) that runs on OSX and others consider it the ‘benchmark’ for Mac text expansion and scripting tools.
 
texter.jpgSaving time? 
One other thing, Texter actually tracks the keystrokes you’ve saved, and provides this fun little report showing how much time you’ve saved using it, and provides a handy printable chart of all your replacement macros.

Hello coders and writers, do you use a text replacement application? If so, weigh in on your app-of-choice, or perhaps a favourite replacement macro you use often.

© 2011 Future Shop. All rights reserved. For personal, noncommercial use.