Interest in SyntaxEditor Multiple Caret/Selection Features?

by Avatar Bill Henning (Actipro) - 9 comments
Tuesday, February 20, 2018 at 4:02pm

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As mentioned in a previous post, we have been working on refactoring the core internal implementation of our SyntaxEditor code editor control on the WPF, UWP, and WinForms platforms.  This effort is being made to bring all three platforms onto the same codebase for easier updating moving forward, and to enhance features wherever possible.

As we continue development of SyntaxEditor vNext, we are getting into porting in the caret/selection feature area.  We've seen a couple newer editors support the concept of multiple carets/selections and would like to get some feedback on if this is a desired feature by our customers.  This is different than the rectangular box selection feature we currently already support.

Rectangular Box Selection

Rectangular box selection is already supported in SyntaxEditor and looks like this:

SyntaxEditorBoxSelection

When this selection is active, you can type and it will enter text at the same column on each line.  You can also copy box-selected text and when it's pasted, it will retain the box layout.  This is a very handy and powerful feature.

Multiple Carets/Selections

Now what happens if you want to make multiple updates but not necessarily in the same column.  Let's take a look at a scenario:

SyntaxEditorMultiScenario

In the screenshot above, the caret is next to a Write method call.  Let's say we want to update all the Write method calls to be WriteLine instead.  We could change it once and copy/paste it to the other locations.  But if we had multiple caret support, you could throw a caret at the end of each of the four Write method calls (in various columns) and simply type Line to update all of them.

One implementation of this I saw used Alt+Click to add carets.  I don't personally like this because Alt is used as a system menu accelerator and causes issues like underlines to appear in menus if you Alt+Click

Another implementation of this used Ctrl+Click to add carets.  That seems better since it won't run into the system menu accelerator issue.  The downside is that Ctrl+Click is currently used in SyntaxEditor (and Visual Studio's code editor) to do quick word selection.  Thus we'd need to rework some of our existing keyboard shortcuts to accommodate new features.

Both these implementations also use Ctrl+U as a way to undo the last selection change, whereas SyntaxEditor and VS currently tie that keyboard shortcut to making selected text lowercase.

Summary

Let's hear from you… is the multiple caret/selection feature something you'd like to see?  How would you prefer to see the keyboard shortcuts adjusted to accommodate new features?

SyntaxEditor vNext - Customizing Line Numbers

by Avatar Bill Henning (Actipro)
Tuesday, December 5, 2017 at 5:08pm

BlogPostBanner-SyntaxEditor-DevNotes

As mentioned in a previous post, we have been working on refactoring the core internal implementation of our SyntaxEditor code editor control on the WPF, UWP, and WinForms platforms.  This effort is being made to bring all three platforms onto the same codebase for easier updating moving forward, and to enhance features wherever possible.

In the previous SyntaxEditor vNext post, we showed some massive improvements in SyntaxEditor touch interaction, including inertia-based touch scrolling and pinch-to-zoom features.  In today's post, we'll examine a new feature area that allows you to customize the line numbers displayed in each view's line number margin.

Default Behavior

By default, a view's line number margin displays the line number (document line index plus one) for each view line.  If a view line is a wrapped line, nothing appears for that view line in the margin.

SyntaxEditorLineNumbersDefault

In vNext, several new features are being added to support customization of the line number display.

Document Fragment Scenario

One scenario where line number customization is appropriate is when you have an enormous file and only want SyntaxEditor to show a fragment of it, such as several thousand lines.  In this scenario, you might make a document with lines 10,000-20,000 in it.  The first line in SyntaxEditor is really line 10,000 in the file, but it normally shows as line #1 in the line number margin.  This can be confusing to the end user.

SyntaxEditorLineNumbersOrigin

A new property on the document class allows you to change the line number origin, which defaults to 1.  For the scenario described above, you'd set it to 10,000 instead.  All line numbers after that origin number will continue to be relative to it.

Advanced Scenarios

What about cases where a language might have specific line numbers or labels that should show for certain view lines?  This is possible too via a new language service that allows for completely customizing the text to display for each view line in the line number margin.

SyntaxEditorLineNumbersCustom

In the screenshot above, we've set the line number margin to show the zero-based offset of each line.  For a couple lines, we've also indicated labels for the namespace and class lines.

Summary

The new custom line numbering features are very easy to use for changing default line number margin content.

SyntaxEditor vNext - Touch Panning and Zooming

by Avatar Bill Henning (Actipro)
Monday, November 20, 2017 at 9:41pm

BlogPostBanner-SyntaxEditor-DevNotes

As mentioned in a previous post, we have been working on refactoring the core internal implementation of our SyntaxEditor code editor control on the WPF, UWP, and WinForms platforms.  This effort is being made to bring all three platforms onto the same codebase for easier updating moving forward, and to enhance features wherever possible.

In the previous post, we discussed how a new text rendering engine was being built that improved rendering speed, and how numerous scrolling improvements have been made.  In today's post, we'll take a look at how some new touch-input features are being added to vNext that take advantage of the rendering engine and scrolling enhancements.

Touch Interaction

In the current version, the UWP SyntaxEditor is the only one that supports touch-based scrolling, and its implementation scrolls in a line-based fashion, making the scroll experience choppy.

In vNext, we wanted to improve this.  As seen in the animation below, we've added touch scrolling support to the WPF, UWP, and WinForms SyntaxEditors, and the scrolling is pixel-smooth.  The scrolling even uses inertia, allowing for flick scrolling!

SyntaxEditorTouch

The WPF and UWP platforms support touch zooming as well, which can also be seen in the animation above.  Simply take two fingers and pinch to zoom.  It all uses smooth animated transitions too.

Summary

Adding improved touch input support is something we've wanted to do for a long time.  We're very pleased with how these features have turned out so far.

SyntaxEditor vNext Is Progressing

by Avatar Bill Henning (Actipro) - 4 comments
Monday, November 13, 2017 at 8:37pm

BlogPostBanner-SyntaxEditor-DevNotes

We've spent the past three months mostly working on redesigning some of the core implementation of our SyntaxEditor control and wanted to give an update today on where things stand.  From this point forward, we'll call this development effort "SyntaxEditor vNext".

Unified Text Rendering Engine

The first phase of this was described in our previous Building a Better SyntaxEditor Text Rendering Engine post.  What we've done is come up with a common API that can be used for text rendering and is the same across WPF, UWP, and WinForms.  It allows consumers of this text rendering API (namely SyntaxEditor) to have a single way to perform all its core text formatting/rendering, etc. 

This is important because when we have a common API wrapper for performing those difficult and very platform-specific tasks, we are able to consolidate all the code that calls into that API to be more or less platform agnostic.  And that means the WinForms SyntaxEditor will see some huge benefits.  More on that below.

Universal Windows

The new UWP text rendering engine implementation is much, much faster than the current way we render text in the UWP SyntaxEditor.  In fact it might even be rendering faster than the WPF version now!  The new UWP text rendering engine also allows for more culture-sensitive logic involving caret movement, right-to-left text, etc.

Windows Forms

The new WinForms text rendering engine implementation is also faster than before and now supports culture-sensitive logic involving caret movement, right-to-left text, etc. 

WPF

The WPF text rendering engine implementation has always been the most advanced one, and it's getting even better.  It features improved efficiency and handles extremely long lines better.

Getting the WinForms SyntaxEditor on the Common Codebase

Per above, a key benefit of having a common API for text formatting/rendering is to finally make progress on migrating the WinForms SyntaxEditor to share code with the other newer platforms that already share a majority of code.  This would mean that the WinForms version would get all the benefits of the more advanced add-ons found in the WPF version, etc. 

This is huge for WinForms SyntaxEditor customers, and parity with the WPF version is something many customers have asked for.

Refactoring the SyntaxEditor Internals

In more recent weeks, we've been refactoring a lot of SyntaxEditor's internals that are related to views, including view management, splitting, scrolling, etc.  We're building a new internal codebase for those features that works the same across WPF, UWP, and WinForms.  And best of all, we're doing our best to keep the same public API as the current WPF version so that there will be minimal breaking changes.

The refactoring is going well thus far, but it is a long process since we're adding feature areas back in one by one with more efficient code and in numerous cases, with additional features.  Here's some examples of improvements in the scrolling area…

Scrolling Improvements

Scrolling has been improved so that you can easily scroll an editor view to any line and even designate if that line should appear near the top/center/bottom of the view, and how far to pixel offset from that location.  This will be wonderful for features like go to line.

When resizing an editor view that is scrolled to the right, if you now resize it even wider, the view lines will anchor to the right when appropriate to make sure not too much whitespace appears at the right side of the view.  In the current SyntaxEditor implementations, the horizontal scrollbar wouldn't scroll at all in that scenario, leading to a lot of extra blank space on the right side of the view.

When vertically scrolling through documents with various view line widths, the current SyntaxEditor implementations will adjust the horizontal scrollbar maximum mostly based on the visible view lines' maximum width.  The newer implementation tries to remember longer line max widths it's seen in the past and prevents a lot of the horizontal scrollbar maximum jumpiness that can happen when scrolling vertically.

Summary

We're really excited about where things are heading.  Not only are we getting a better internal codebase for managing a lot of view-related features, we're adding features as we go, and are consolidating the WPF, UWP, and WinForms codebases such that they will share 95%+ of the code.  This will allow for language add-on codebases to be shared across all platforms.  And the public SyntaxEditor API changes for the WPF/UWP platforms will be kept to a minimum.

If you have any specific view-oriented features that you'd like to see in SyntaxEditor, now is the time to get your suggestions in. 

We're chatting daily about progress in our Slack workspace and would love for you to discuss SyntaxEditor with us there.

WinForms Controls 2016.1 Released

by Avatar Bill Henning (Actipro)
Wednesday, June 1, 2016 at 8:00pm

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A new version of our Windows Forms controls has been released.  This version includes several large new features along with numerous minor bug fixes and updates.  First, these are some of the major new features…

Floating Documents

WinFormsFloatingDocument

When a new DockManager property is set to true, documents can be floated to their own window.  This allows them to be moved to and maximized on a second monitor.

Document Layout Serialization

We've always had layout serialization for tool windows but now tabbed document windows can have their layouts serialized as well.

C# Parser Updated to Support C# 5.0 Syntax

The C# parser in the WinForms .NET Languages Add-on has been updated to support the parsing of C# 5.0 syntax.

See the announcement post for the detailed list of other enhancements and updates.

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