Steve Frécinaux

A closer look to gedit 2.14

The upcoming gedit 2.14 is some kind of a major release. It has passed through a huge rewriting (the so-called new_mdi branch) and so there is a whole collection of new features, be it hidden or not.

The new version gives an answer to lots of the daily frustrations you encounter in text editing and addresses a long list of issues that affected previous versions of gedit. Following the example of Davyd’s gnome 2.14 preview, let’s see what are the most visible changes.

Tired of that slow, heavy and featureless editor? Well, carry on dreaming with gedit 2.14!

First of all, the new gedit is faster than the old one. Way faster. Not only it starts up in less time, but loading of local files is almost instantaneous, even for bigger files, thanks to the use of mmap. Search and Replace has also been optimized a great deal.

If at a first glance the main interface doesn’t seem to have changed much, you will soon find out that there are some nice improvements. For instance, tabs can now be reordered, and menu accelerators can now be changed as in other gnome apps (provided you enable the corresponding option in gnome-control- center).

Screencast: tab reordering Now with tab reordering.

gedit 2.14 features a brand new interactive search, like Vim’s or the file chooser’s. “Interactive” in this case means the search begins as soon as you enter the first letter, and continues for each character you type in. More, it highlights the terms you are looking for. It’s very comfortable and quickly becomes essential once you get used to it. There is no menu for it but you can access it by hitting Ctrl+K on your keyboard. See it in action!

Screenshot: Interactive search Hit Ctrl+K and start searching!

The print preview is now embedded in the page instead of using a separate window. The controls have been streamlined and the preview layout is nearly as nice as if it was Evince.

Screenshot: print preview Print preview now stands on the same window.

Network transparency

Gedit can now open remote files, edit them and save them back through network, as if it were located on your own hard disk. Don’t bother anymore to copy those files from your server, or, worse, to use Vim on SSH: just open, edit, and save!

Screenshot: Saving a file over SSH Open remote files, edit them, save them.

Nifty notification boxes

Tired of popups of all sorts? Forget them! gedit now uses Firefox-like notification areas which don’t pop up anymore but wait concienciously for you to come back on their tab and to read them. You can carry on working when your file is loading or saving, whithout being interrupted if there is an error or something like that.

Screenshot: Notification The new notification boxes

Brand new plug-in system

As some other GNOME applications (like Epiphany) do, the new gedit focuses on simplicity, and extensibility. This way, users with simple needs can use a simple editor, when advanced users can use and advanced editor, by plugging in the functionnality they needs. You need a feature? Load it!

The new plugin system allows anybody to write quickly new plugins using Python. These plugins usually add features in the form of panels (there are now a bottom pane and a side pane) or menus. The few old plugins (indentation, tag list, etc.) are still there, and some new ones has appeared like the ability to recognize and parse Emacs or Vim modelines, to use code snippets or to define custom command line tools.

Screenshot: Side Pane The side pane showing the document list.

As a side effect, there is now a side pane containing the list of all the documents that are opened currently. That’s way more handy than the tab bar if you have lots of them, and if you don’t, well… you still can hide that side pane!

Snippets!

Probably the most awesome new gedit plug-in over there, the code snippets are… hard to explain. The concept is that you write some keyword, hit tab, and the related code magically appears, you just have to complete it hitting the Tab key several times. Well, a picture is worth a thousand words, so, just watch the screencast!. (More…)

Screenshot: snippets manager The snippets manager

External Tools

When you are writing code, you often want to run some command related to the code you’re hacking on. Just think of running pdflatex… That’s what the external tools plugin is for! You just have to add your favourite commands or Bash scripts, and they’ll show up in the tool menu. You can even get the output as a new document, or ask for parameters through Zenity. (More…)

Screenshot: Tool menu Add your own external tools