Yes, Notepad is great: it is fast, simple and does what it proposes.
But a time comes when we begin to miss ‘something else’ when it comes to handling text files.
Then we meet a very efficient program, to be used in cases where we need to work with Text files, and certain additional skills are required.
Why should I use a program other than Notepad?
As already mentioned, we consider the Notepad program very good taking into account the tasks for which it proposes.
Helps us in many situations, for example when we need to ‘remove’ the formatting or special characters - just paste on the ‘problematic’ text in it, and then copied the same text back: and done - we have only the values - a ‘clean’ text, without formatting.
But situations arise where we need help the most. For example, if we need to compare two simple text files. Or especially, if we work with whatever it is programming such as HTML, VBA, XML, etc…
At this moment, we search for an alternative. And then we have a plethora of suggestions. Paid programs, beta programs, free programs, etc… Some programs are even good, but slow to load - and that’s not good when we need agility.
So here we are again, to suggest you a good alternative - the program that we currently use - as complementary to the Notepad: Notepad++: a free program with effective and interesting features that are worth being explored. And it is fast.
So let’s go?
Installation and License
We started the program site, downloading the latest version (current) in the Downloads section.
As we are currently in version 5.9, click the link to download this version, and proceed with the installation. Do not worry, the installation is as simple as any standard installation.
Program website: http://notepad-plus-plus.org/
Right, once installed the program, we can use it.
There is no much to be spoken here. The interface is similar to any other existing text editor.
In the first area (1) we have the menus for the many possible actions (let’s say today about only a few major, you can explore all according to your needs). The main menus are shown as well as through buttons on the Toolbar (2). The main area (3) is the most intuitive of all - where the text is worked, and we also have a Status Bar (4) where some quick information are shown.
But enough of presentation: let’s see it in action so we can make conclusion if it is worth using it in our day-to-day.
For this, we use some examples, with small files.
Shortcut to open
Then, using small text files to demonstrate we have the first ‘sample_text_01.txt’, whose content is simply the text of the main page of telecomhall: http://www.telecomhall.com/.
To begin, let’s open this file. And now here is a quick shortcut for several types of extensions, not just those of “.txt” type. We use the quick shortcut in Windows Explorer: after finding the file (1), simply right click and choose ‘Edit with Notepad++’ (2).
Row and Column Numbering
Note a few things already - that Notepad could have. The line where the cursor is on (1) is in light blue (highlighted). The file name can be seen in its corresponding guide (2) - this is useful when we have more than one file open, and switch between them. On the left we see the line numbering (3), and at Status Bar we can see for example in which column the cursor is (4). Among other information.
Now suppose you have to give a zoom, because the letter is very small and you want to read a certain passage better. Simply hold down the Control key and roll the mouse wheel. Notice that the zoom is applied or removed as desired - without having to change the font size (1)! (Then when you print will not have a giant text by mistake).
Note: Use the Menu: View -> Zoom back to the original visualization.
Drag and Drop
Now imagine you have a few snippets of text that need to be moved (cut into one place, and pasted into another). To do this, you can simply select the section and drag it to wherever you want (1) - including another file!
Well, up until now it was interesting, but nothing extraordinary. Okay, let’s stop talking about the most trivial functions - has many programs, and talk some more practice.
Suppose you have a text file, and it has sent a colleague to make some corrections issues. Upon receiving this file (let’s call here sample_text_02.txt), how do you see what has changed by your colleague?
To do this some with Notepad++, open the first file, then open the second file, and access the Menu: Plugins (1) -> Compare (2) -> Compare (3) and see what happens.
Well, so now you can see the differences, but before we talk about three buttons with options (actions) are important in this case: Synchronize Vertical Scrolling (1), Synchronize Horizontal Scrolling (2) and Word Wrap (3).
With these three buttons pressed, the scroll bars are vertical and horizontal sync, and enjoy a line break that allows us to see the entire line. Note however that the Word Wrap affects only the display - the numbering of the lines remains the same (for example, the title ‘Tips’ is always in line 10). (Note also that when you make a comparison, the synch buttons of scroll bars are enabled already).
Well, let’s examine the comparison. See that your colleague made a change in line 8: change the text ‘start’ to ‘BEGIN’. The paragraph is green, indicating that there is in both files, but shows what has changed. And the change is more prominent in dark green (1).
And when you move the scroll bars, the contents of two files simultaneously moves.
Began to improve ? Or rather, he began to see benefits?
So let’s continue a little more …
Find and Replace
Back to our original file, and let’s see some other facilities. Double-click - or choose - any word, eg ‘Information’. See what happens: the word is highlighted throughout the file.
Now we will use the facility to find and replace. That the interface is very friendly: when you put the focus on the text, the interface becomes almost transparent, without locking your editing options.
You can also use Regular Expression in the polls for those who are already familiar with this powerful syntax.
Okay, now let’s turn to an example a little more advanced.
As we speak, the editor is also great for advanced users such as programmers. Although its range of supported languages can be quite large (C, C + +, Java, PHP, XML and many other even), we have listed here with HTML programming, which is one of the simplest, and everyone can understand.
So, suppose you have to create a simple HTML file with a table composed of two cells.
Note: All programs usually have their associate Editors. However, for the most part, you can create programs using only Notepad or any other text editor.
Then, the HTML code to create our page can be viewed using Notepad.
But now see the same file, open with Notepad++.
The features are numerous, as if you were using the editor of your specific language. For example, in the case of HTML, it colors automatically and properly texts.
Also, it does indenting, and allows you to group parts of the text, hiding in due course. See the same example above, where you simply hide the entire area of the table simply by clicking the ‘-’. That in turn, when we click the sign of ‘+’, it displays the text back.
Well, here we could go over a series of demonstrations, but as always, two considerations apply :
You should have already got our goal, which was to present the Notepad++;
The full exploitation of a program takes place even in practice, ie using it in the daily tasks.
So, to conclude, let’s talk about a few more features, quite rapidly. A deeper, exploring all possibilities, would be appreciated.
Some other interesting features
- Open Source :the program is open sourced. That means you can, if desired, make changes to it. Of course, this is the case of a few people, but if you want, you can;
- Detection of Changes : ie, Notepad++ verifies that the file was opened previously changed, and for convenience, ask if you want to load this new version. This is useful for example when you have a macro that generates a certain output file. If you run the macro again - after the file has been opened by Notepad++, it allows you to simply reload - no need to locate and open the file again ;
- Multi :features like multiple languages, multiple documents can be opened and alternate with each other, multi vision that allows for different view ;
- You can create Favorites for files ;
- Among others.
And as our tutorial is already quite extensive, we can stop here.
This was a brief summary of the software Notepad++, an excellent program that every professional IT and Telecom should at least know.
Notepad++ is beneficial, as some have seen in this tutorial, and certainly help to increase productivity, which is what we always look here. In addition, the program is free.
One of the possible ‘disadvantages’ with Notepad++ is common to all new software: a novelty. With a new interface, and full of features, some users tend to get confused. But with the use, surely you’ll realize that it was worth it!
We hope you enjoyed. We look forward to questions and comments. And until our next meeting!