New Plugin: CR_MultiSelect

We’re all familiar with how text selection works in windows.

You click and drag, from one end of some Text, to the other. Typically this text is highlighted by inverting the foreground and background colours to give you an easy way to see what is ‘selected’. Alternatively you may use the shift key in conjunction with one or more of several navigation keys (left, right, up, down etc)

Of course using CodeRush you have even more options for defining your selection.

Once text is selected, you choose what you’d like to do with that text:

  • You can click elsewhere to cancel the selection.
  • You can select some alternate text.
  • You can use the selection as a part of some operation.
  • Replace the selected text by simply typing over it.
  • Cut or Copy the selection to the clipboard

CodeRush Post-Selection Operations

CodeRush naturally gives you more options for using any text you may have on the clipboard.

And many others.

SideNote: A little known CodeRush clipboard feature, is the use of the \ character when a CodeRush template requires a type mnemonic. This will check the clipboard for a type and use that in lieu of a more explicitly specified type mnemonic. For example ps<space> yields a property of type string. However p\<space> yields a property who’s type is the same as that held on the clipboard.

So now let’s consider what life might be like if we could have “multiple” concurrent selections.

Let that sink in for a minute.

Multiple. Concurrent. Selections

So what would that be like? Well you could select some text, and then select some other text elsewhere without loosing the first selection. This process could continue indefinitely adding as many selections to the list as we like. If many selections are to be involved, it would probably be prudent to have a function to remove the most recent selection (an MultiSelectUndo of sorts). This would allow you to correct a poorly added selection in case a mistake was made, allowing you to add a different selection. A corresponding MultiSelectRedo would not seem unreasonable. Once a multiselection was established, the clipboard operations could be used to cut, copy and paste this text like any other text.

How might you use such a feature?

Imagine that you have a class (OldCalculator) that you’re not very happy with. You’re pretty sure you can do better. You think it’d be a good idea to start from scratch. Perhaps you’re going to channel Mark Miller and create UltraMegaAwesomeCalculator Winking smile

You create a new class (c<space> and type your new classname).

Your next thought might be, that while some of the old code was appalling, there were parts of it that weren’t so bad. Given a simple way to do so, you’d love to grab a copy of the right pieces and deposit them into UltraMegaAwesomeCalculator. However the good parts are spread about in different parts of OldCalculator.

If you’re going to go and get them and copy them into this class, it’s going to take a lot of context switching and a lot of keystrokes to get the job done.

With multiple selection, you could select a couple of private members, a method or 2 and a subclass which you found to be of good quality. You could then copy those with a single keystroke and paste them into your new class.

Well that’s exactly what CR_MultiSelect does.

…and that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

The basic version of CR_MultiSelect includes functions for MultiSelectAdd and MultiSelectClear as well as overridden versions of Cut, Copy and Paste and the suggested MultiSelectUndo and MultiSelectRedo

If you have a full keyboard I suggest using Ctrl+NumEnter and Ctrl+NumDel on your numeric keypad. Likewise if you’d like to use either MultiSelectUndo or MultiSelectRedo, I suggest assigning these to Ctrl+NumMinus and Ctrl+NumPlus

Details on assigning shortcuts may be found here

Scenario1

Imagine the simple scenario of copying 2 fields and a method from Class1 to Class2, let’s compare workflows:

Single Selection

Multi Selection

  • Move to Class1
  • Click start of Field1
  • Drag to end of Field1
  • Copy
  • Move to Class2
  • Paste
  • Move to Class1
  • Click start of Field2
  • Drag to end of Field2
  • Copy
  • Move To Class2
  • Paste
  • Move to Class1
  • Click start of Method1
  • Drag to end of Method1
  • Copy
  • Move to Class2
  • Paste

 

  • Move to Class1
  • Click start of Field1
  • Add Selection (Autoexpands selection to Field1)
  • Click start of Field2
  • Add Selection  (Autoexpands selection to Field2)
  • Click start of Method1
  • Add Selection (Autoexpands selection to Method1)
  • Move to Class2
  • Paste (All items pasted at once)

18 operations

9 operations

That’s 50% less operations and a whole lot less context switching and visual disorientation.

Scenario2

Here is a simpler and more visual version of the same:

Note: I recorded this demo on laptop without a Numeric keypad, so I bound MultiSelectAdd to Alt+A (I did not need the Data Keyboard) and MultiSelectClear to Alt+C

MultiSelect

Note: In the above demo, there wasn’t even a need for me to drag and select the fields. CodeRush automatically expanded the selection around the logical member (Using Selection Increase and Decrease in a similar way to SmartCut and SmartCopy) as a part of the MultiSelectAdd operation.

Integrated Paste

Just to ice the cake, and also give an idea of where we can take this sort of feature in the future, we decided to implement MultiSelectIntegratedPaste.

Since we are the ones placing information on the clipboard, we can also store some of the DXCore metadata with it, and then make use of that information later. So when you use MultiSelectIntegratedPaste instead of normal paste, and assuming that you’re pasting class members  into a class, we’ll sort those members by type and emit them in that order instead (Method, Property, Event, Variable, Other)

The Future…

We think that this functionality is so useful, that we’re going to push Multi Selection down into the DXCore. Once this is done, the MultiSelect service will be available to any plugin that sits on the DXCore, allowing anyone writing plugins to use this functionality. We can begin building on it in the main CodeRush feature set, and so can you.

In the mean time, feel free to download this plugin and have a play.

Note: The plugin mentioned in this post was created during a CodeRush Feature Workshop (Part1, Part2).

7 comment(s)
Mark Miller (DevExpress)
Mark Miller (DevExpress)

Rory, don't forget to mention the Integrated Paste feature we added, that allows the individual parts of the copy operation to be pasted in the corresponding locations in the target class. Also, you don't need to select if you're copying members. Just place the caret at the start of the member and press the key you bound to the MultiSelectAdd command.

20 September, 2011
Pietro Allegretti
Pietro Allegretti

It seems to not work in my VS2010, in the plugin manager I've the plugin "Not Loaded" ..and if could help.. the Assembly Type is "Unknown".

21 September, 2011
Rory Becker - DevExpress
Rory Becker - DevExpress

@Mark: Good Point. I'll integrate that information ASAP.

@Pietro. I've uploaded a newer version of the binary. Try build 1989

21 September, 2011
Martin Praxmarer - DevExpress MVP
Martin Praxmarer - DevExpress MVP

Cannot really get it working - have already tried multiple shortcurs, ALT A, CTRL + ALT + D - and so, but nothing happens... Any Info?

21 September, 2011
Rory Becker - DevExpress
Rory Becker - DevExpress

Have you bound your chosen key to the supplied actions?

Details on binding key may be found here -> community.devexpress.com/.../binding-keys-in-coderush.aspx

Looking back through the post, it appears I have not linked to these instructions. I will correct that.

21 September, 2011
Andrew Jones
Andrew Jones

Which sub-folder (on IDE\Shortcuts page) do I need to place the key bindings in so that this will work?

21 September, 2011
Rory Becker - DevExpress
Rory Becker - DevExpress

Shortcuts can be created in any sub folder you choose.

The folders are purely for organizational purposes.

However I always recommend that new Shortcuts (and Templates) are placed beneath a root folder called 'Custom'

22 September, 2011

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