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, July 17, 2007
I was working with the documentation team on the new "soft character" feature going into the latest beta of Komodo 4.2. This is the feature where you type an opening character like an open-parenthesis or double-quote, and Komodo puts the...
I was working with the documentation team on the new "soft character" feature going into the latest beta of Komodo 4.2. This is the feature where you type an opening character like an open-parenthesis or double-quote, and Komodo puts the closing character immediately to the right of the cursor, and draws a box around it to indicate that it's "soft". Which means if you type that character, the cursor simply hops over it.
No blinking needed so far, but while we were trying out the feature we found, particularly for PHP and Perl, that as long as you have all those soft characters to the right of the cursor, it would be nice to type the semi-colon and have it dropped at the end of the line as well. It was easy to implement but it doesn't happen all the time. In PHP it only happens when there are soft close-brackets and close-parens to the right of the cursor. With Perl it's a little more complex: we hop semi-colons over close-braces when they're used for hash indexing, but not when they're used for block structure.
We call these "fast characters", and while documenting them we were using a simple "pipe character" (|) to indicate the cursor position before and after you type the fast character. Even with styling, it didn't look like a cursor. Then we thought of the blink tag, and its 21st-century equivalent <span style="text-decoration: blink">.
For various reasons, the idea didn't hold up through final approval. It's not portable, we like our on-line docs to reflect screenshots and PDFs, and no one really wants to be associated with the blink tag, even when it's all dressed up in fancy CSS duds.