Monday, October 11, 2010

TextPad. How I Love Thee. Let Me Count Thy Ways…

Since the 1980’s I’ve used a variety of code editors to do my programming horrors.  But the only one I’ve managed to stick with has been TextPad.  There are other nice editors out there, but for me, for the price, the features just stomp ass like a 5 year old on Red Bull wearing ice climbing boots left alone in a glass shop.  Ok, maybe that’s a little extreme.  Nah.  It’s actually pretty correct.

But I have found that each time I “slick-n-reload” my home computer, I go through a standard ritual of setting it up to handle the work I do.  The work I do involves editing ASP, PHP, CSS, XML/XSLT, JavaScript, BAT/CMD script, KiXtart script, T-SQL and PowerShell.  For years I worked with LISP and C++ as well, which is what drove me to TextPad in the first place: It was the only editor that handles all of these languages equally well and let’s me bend the rules to suit my needs (or overcome shortsighted vendor limitations).  Other editors are superior for specific features like auto-completion, syntax post-checking, pretty formatting, or pre-run validation.  But TextPad covers all bases pretty damn good.  It’s an example of “Jack of all trades” in some respects.

So, I thought I’d share my “ritual” and preferences settings with the world (or the half-dozen that are interested) in case it helps.  A “wishlist” item has been submitted for exporting and importing TextPad settings from one computer to another, which would really make it easier, but for now (as of version 5.3.1) the manual option is all there is.

As soon as I install TextPad, the first things I do are the following (and I do them in this order):

  1. Enter my license key
  2. Download my custom syntax defs and clip libraries (into %ProgramFiles%\TextPad5\Samples)
  3. Configure Preferences (see below)
  4. Create my Document Classes (see below)
  5. Set File Associations (see below)


  • General: Check “Replace Notepad” (why not?)
  • File: clear Default file extension
  • File: Change file-modify from Prompt to “Ignore”
  • File: Un-check “Check for file size changes”
  • View: Check “Line Numbers”
  • View: Un-check “Popup names on the document selector”
  • Document Classes / Default / Colors: 1=Blue, 2=Red, 3=Pink, 4=Orange, 5=Dark Purple, 6=Maroon ***
  • Document Classes / Default / Tabulation: tab-space=4, indent=4
  • File Name Filters: move “All Files (*.*)” to the top of the list
  • Keyboard: assign FileRevert to key [F5]
  • Tools: Add “cscript.exe” as Tool 1 (leave defaults for this tool)

Note: If you configure the “Default” document class before adding more classes, they will inherit the Default class properties, which saves a lot of time.

Custom Document Classes (just for me obviously):

  • ASP (*.asp / remove *.asp from the HTML class)
  • PHP (*.php / remove *.php from the HTML class)
  • BAT (*.bat, *.cmd)
  • KiXtart (*.kix, *.udf)
  • VBScript (*.vbs)
  • JavaScript (*.js)
  • PowerShell (*.msh, *.ps1)

Associated Files:

  • *.asp
  • *.php
  • *.bat
  • *.cmd
  • *.vbs
  • *.ps1
  • *.msh
  • *.txt
  • *.ini
  • *.js
  • *.kix
  • *.udf
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