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Kate searching: on to better usability

v1 / status quo


Hello! What's this? It's the current state and a new draft for a possibly next version of the power search and replace bar in KDE4's KatePart, and therefore Kate and KWrite and more. The current approach has several issues. To address some of them I have been doing two things recently:

  1. Starting a wiki page collecting issues , ideas , feedback. Your participation is very welcome. Tell us what we don't know.
  2. Creating a new mockup dialog (above) addressing some of the current issues

First: If you have comments to share please add them to the KatePart Search Bar wiki page or write a mail to kwrite-, thank you. Below I will try to explain some of the ideas behind the above screenshot. Not all are mine, especially similarity to Jens Bache-Wiig's earlier mockup is not by accident. To sum up the benefits I personally see in this new draft are:

  • Less width
  • Less height
  • Less complexity
  • More friendliness
Why this way?
The "Add..." buttons

.. are gone for space and relevance reasons. If they are missed by people we can still put this feature in the edit lines' context menu later. Also they are hard to integrate into a layout.

Search mode, Match case and Highlight all

.. are what I consider the minimum set of options that need to be visible and accessible as quick as possible. That's why they are represented by their own controls here.

Any other boolean options

.. go into the Options combo box, e.g. From Cursor and Selection only. The latter is a good example of a setting, that the bar guesses correctly in most cases, so people don't need to change it often. At the same time the Options combo box can be extended with as many checkboxes as users turn out to really need, whatever it may be.

The mode combo box

.. shows the text "Plain Text (Alt+1)" currently. The idea is to assign free default hotkeys to all four modes so switching using the keyboard is efficient. The shortcut itself is shown so the user starts remembering it and save reading manuals for easy things. Before that to switch from Plain Text to Regular Expression mode you would have hit Tab , R , Shift-Tab (or Ctrl+R again).

The Next button

.. is left of Previous to be closer to the search pattern line edit which aims at reducing the way you travel with your mouse, as Next is probably hit much more often than Previous. Nothing new but I still found it worth mentioning as it feels unintuitive to many at first.

Highlight all

.. is not a checkbox anymore because I felt that it's very different from stuf like Match case semantically. "Different things should look different" — I forgot who said that.

The "Find:" label

.. is aligned left now. Somehow right-aligned felt unnatural to several people, now me included. [EDIT] I changed my mind - I prefer right-aligned now.

The Use Placeholders option

.. will either go into the Options combo box or change with the search mode. I currently tend to the latter as it seems I never missed it in any other editor before though I regularly switch between Plain Text, Escape Sequences and Regular Expressions.

Last words

Again, please participate in improving the search bar: Extend the KatePart Search Bar wiki page or write a mail to Thank you!

PS: If all this doesn't make any sense - it's 4:41 on my clock... ;-)