Charles Engelke's Blog

June 29, 2008

SlickEdit Selection Fix – and Book Recommendation

Filed under: How To,Notes — Charles Engelke @ 2:31 pm

I’m trying out SlickEdit to see if I’ll be happy with it.  I really, really want an editor with good Brief emulation.  I used CodeWright at work; it’s good, but expensive and effectively orphaned, so I didn’t want to buy a copy for my personal machine.  Jed says it emulates Brief and it’s free; I tried it, couldn’t get it to behave like Brief, and found its documentation unhelpful.  I found Zeus: it’s inexpensive and mostly does a good job, so I bought it and use it, but it has some annoying minor glitches.  (Really minor; I’ve been using it for a year as my main editor.)

SlickEdit gets great press and has extensive documentation, so I’m giving it a try.  (For the third free trial; I never got deep enough into it to work on configuring it just right in the first two.)  One of the best things about SlickEdit is that it is nearly infinitely configurable.  One of the worst things about SlickEdit is that it is nearly infinitely configurable.  I don’t like investing all that startup time tweaking it to get it right.

But I’m still looking for an editor, so this time I’m really making the effort.  Just selecting Brief emulation made it work pretty well, but I read through the User Guide and changed a few settings.  And I got quite happy with it, except for one infuriating behavior: if I typed over selected text, what I typed was appended to the text instead of replacing it.

I figured that there had to be a way to change this, but I couldn’t find it in the User Guide.  Google didn’t turn anything up, either.  There’s a book just about SlickEdit, though; maybe it would help?  I don’t want to have to buy it to find out, though; I haven’t yet committed to this editor.  I checked for it on Safari, but it’s not there.

It is on Amazon, though.  And “Search Inside this Book” is available for it.  I searched for “typing replaces selection” and immediately found what I needed!  Right there on page 382, I saw some SlickEdit macro code commented with:

// CUA Style: typing replaces basic (not locked) selection

The code changed the value of a variable named def_persistent_select to a D.  I wasn’t about to learn how to write code to do this, but the SlickEdit User Guide did show how to change these variables through the menus.  I changed it (it was set to N in my installation), and now the editor works the way I want!

Needless to say I’m not going to remember how I did this, nor how I found this information, hence this post to remind me.  Here’s how to do it:

  1. Select the Macro menu, then Set Macro Variable…
  2. There’s a drop-down list named Variable.  Scroll through it to select def_persistent_select.
  3. Enter a D in the Value text box, and click OK.

I’m pretty sure this change is persistent.  If not, I’ll figure out how to save it later.

This greatly increases the chance that I’ll decide to buy a $300 copy of SlickEdit.  If I do I’ll also buy the $50 book (only $36.49 on Amazon).  Both in gratitude and because it’s likely to have a lot of other useful stuff.  My main qualm right now is that SlickEdit is much more complex than I want or need.  Doesn’t anybody just make a plain editor any more?

So why don’t I use Brief itself?  Because I didn’t know it existed!  I Googled it to see if there would be a good link about Brief I could put in this post, and found this.  It’s not the same Brief of old, but it’s trying to be just like it.  I’ll try it out, but it may emulate a console-mode editor too well for me today.


June 2, 2008

Conference Materials are now available

Filed under: Google IO 2008,RailsConf 2008 — Charles Engelke @ 1:57 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

RailsConf 2008 has made most of its presentation materials available for free download.

Google IO is beginning to make videos of its sessions available.

A lot of this stuff is really great, well worth your time.

Last Day at RailsConf

Filed under: RailsConf 2008,Uncategorized — Charles Engelke @ 1:46 am
Tags: ,

RailsConf is over now.  It ended on a strong, though short, day.  For me, it began with Obie Fernandez of HashRocket (and author of The Rails Way) showing us all the “worst rails code you’ve ever seen.”  I was worried that I wouldn’t follow the talk because I’m not yet as far along on some planned Rails projects as I had expected, but the examples were clear, he explained the issues simply, and showed the proper approaches.

Rick Bradley of OG Consulting talked about “waxing ballroom floors on the Titanic,” stories about the challenges of doing Rails work “in the enterprise.”  The best part for me?  The “Can’t Chart” that shows all the organizational impediments to actually achieving your goals.

Adam Keys of Five Runs gave a very personal talk about failures, and how he’s learned from them and changed as a result.  An interesting talk about the examples and maturation in general.

And my final session at the conference was Chris Selmer of Intridea, and Josh Owens of the Web 2.0 Show, telling us about Rails Rumble, a contest where teams of up to four people had 48 hours to build and deploy an application.  It sounded like a lot of fun, if you don’t need sleep.

The official conference closing was a keynote panel of the core Rails developers.  It was low key, but interesting to hear them all together.

June 1, 2008

Closing Out Day 2 at RailsConf

Filed under: RailsConf 2008,Uncategorized — Charles Engelke @ 1:50 pm
Tags: ,

After lunch, I attended a Lightning Talks session.  These are always interesting, and show the momentum Rails has.  Then I went to another vendor presentation, this time on CodeGear‘s 3rd Rail IDE.  And it was again a very worthwhile session.  RailsConf or O’Reilly (or both) has really figured out to give vendors a platform that adds values for the attendees, and I really appreciate that.

I am not a fan of IDEs, but the talk succeeded in selling me on 3rd Rail, at least to the point of giving it a serious try.  They gave away fully licensed copies to all attendees, so I won’t even have a time limit on my use.  3rd Rail is built on top of Eclipse, like so many IDEs today.  The last time I tried Eclipse it was just too slow for me to stand, but like any successful open source application, it just keeps getting better with time, so I’m hopeful.

My last session of the day was Metaprogramming and Ruby Internals for Rails Developers, given by Patrick Farley of Thoughtworks.  Unfortunately, the talk was a total train wreck, probably the worst I’ve ever seen.  Not because of the content or presentation of it, but because of technical problems.  A particular slide apparently crashed his PC—twice!—and he took at least 15 minutes getting going again on a colleague’s PC.  The subject was too complex to just talk about, so he didn’t really have any other option.  But from now on, I’m going to make sure that any presentation I give is on my PC, a USB key, and at least one colleague’s PC before I start.

The day closed with a keynote from Kent Beck of Three Rivers Institute.  He told stories about the major things he was a big part of (like Extreme Programming) and how each one took twenty years to really set in.  It was dry at first, but when he settled in he loosened up and was very entertaining as well as interesting.

Our group ended the day with a big mistake on our parts: we went to dinner downtown.  Oh, the dinner at Huber’s Restaurant was very nice, but what we didn’t know was that last night was the annual Starlight Parade, about two blocks from the restaurant.  The Max rail was completely packed, so we took a cab.  And when we got near the restaurant, took ten minutes to go a block.  We had a reservation for dinner, so we got out and walked on.  Good dinner and an interesting historic restaurant:

But then had a big problem getting back.  The trains were running very slow, and when they finally did arrive, they were too packed to get on.  (Actually, they had room in the middle of each car, but people standing near the doors blocked the way there, so no one could get on.)  There were special shuttle buses about a block from the Max stop, which went right to our hotel, and once we found that we were fine.

Blog at