Elastic tabstops - a better way to indent and align code
Support for more editors in the works
Sunday 2009-06-07 19:31 UTCVisual Studio 2010
Following my last post last year (I really should try and post more frequently), someone from the Visual Studio development team at Microsoft got in contact with me (thanks Noah!). It looks like I will be able to implement elastic tabstops in Visual Studio after all, since VS 2010 should allow me to set non-uniform tabstops on different lines. I think I'll wait until the final version's released before I do anything else.
I had a look into what it would take to get elastic tabstops working on Eclipse. Unfortunately it looks like SWT (the toolkit Eclipse uses) will not let one set non-uniform tabstops on different lines, which is a pre-requisite for the implementation of elastic tabstops. If you're an Eclipse developer (or feel like creating an account) you can vote this bug up here.
In contrast with Eclipse, NetBeans uses Swing, which is a toolkit that already supports the implementation of elastic tabstops (as can be seen in my demo applet here). When I get time I'll try and look into writing a plugin for this IDE.
Another editor supports elastic tabstops - Code Browser
Marc Kerbiquet emailed me last month to tell me that he'd added elastic tabstops to his editor: Code Browser. He's also written a rather nice advocacy page. Since it's cross platform this is probably the first editor to support elastic tabstops that runs on Windows. (There's also Gedit on Windows, which I'd like to see get more attention.)
Plans for an editor of my own
I'm planning to start work on a new cross-platform editor which will of course support elastic tabstops. I have a few innovations I'd like to try, but I also intend to borrow ideas from the best, and I'll also make it scriptable so people can extend it as they see fit. The reason for this is that changing every single editor that exists is impossible, but by making an easily scriptable cross-platform editor which supports elastic tabstops from the start it should be possible for people to script it to feel like their favourite editor. Watch this space...
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