Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ctrl+F is changing the way we read

I don’t know about you but I love [ctrl+f] a.k.a the Find command.  Just as copy/paste changed the way that we write and edit text, [ctrl+f] is changing the way that we read.

When I’m browsing a web site in search of some data, I find [ctrl+f] to be the easiest way of scanning the page to see if it might contain the nugget of knowledge I’m looking for.  Especially today when most pages are full of images, ads, and other noise, [ctrl+k] will take you right to the text your looking for.  And you instantly know, regardless of what the Google search brought up, if the page actually contains what you’re looking for.

Visual Studio also has [ctrl+shift+k] which is the short-cut for “Find in Files”.  This allows me to search the entire codebase for any string (or regex) that I’m looking for.  This is great when I need to maintain (read fix a bug) in a part of a system that I’m unfamiliar with.

For example, let’s say that some value isn’t displaying properly on a web page.  Using Firebug I can usually find the control’s ClientID.  This value usually contains part of the control’s ID.  [Ctrl+shift+k] and I can find all the files (pages and user controls) that use this ID.  Then you can find the type, class declaration… and finally fix the bug.

Imagine having this kind tool when reading a reference book.  Sure the table of contents and index are useful.  But just think of how quickly you could find information if you could quickly search the whole book for a word like ListView.

As more and more text based content is available online and we do more and more of our reading online, it will become imperative for any good UI to allow for instant text searching.  That this isn’t already a standard feature in Windows causes a lot of grief.  Just as all text boxes allow cut/copy/paste, they should also allow “find”.  

1 comment:

  1. You should get an Amazon Kindle... best of both worlds! ( get 2 -> give me one )