Notepad++ vs. Framemaker

David Coverston

By David Coverston
Director-At-Large
Membership Chair
Orlando Central Florida Chapter STC

Use Notepad++ to do what FrameMaker can’t

One common use of the Windows Notepad application is to remove formatting when copying and pasting text from one document to another.  I think a better alternative is Notepad++. This free, open source program has all sorts of features, even some that FrameMaker doesn’t.  In this article, I will explain how I use Notepad++ to quickly perform three functions that I can’t do in FrameMaker.

The latest is Notepad++ version is 6.6.9 as of this writing, and is available from http://notepad-plus-plus.org/.  I recommend downloading the Notepad++ Installer version, which is a .msi file. Double-click it to run the installation. After you have installed Notepad++, you will also want to install the TextFX plugin. This plugin adds several nifty tools that technical writers can use. To add in the plugin, click Plugins > Plugin Manager > Show Plugin Manager. Notepad++ displays a host of plugins, but scroll down until you locate TextFX Characters, select it, then click Install.

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Restart Notepad++ and the TextFX plugin now displays in the menu bar. Like many other tools, there are a number of commands and functions that you will not use, at least not in the beginning.

 

Let’s start with a list of names I got from a random name generator on the Internet. You can substitute file names or any other paragraph of text you have to edit. Here is our material:

Angie Mccuin

Raymon Archambeault

Maryann Franko

Blanca Novak

Manie Molyneux

Jason Carpentier

Violeta Denzer

Candace Kowalski

Noe Rocha

Rocio Burnham

Select columns

The first thing I want to do is to eliminate the spaces in front of the list. To do this, hold the Alt key down, and click and drag from one corner of the area to the other. The column, represented by the gray area to the left of the list is selected. Press Delete to remove the spaces. Hint: You can also paste text like  a hyphen or asterisk,  and it will be pasted in front of all 10 items at once. Hint 2: You can also select and delete text like this in Word, but you can’t paste text in front of all the items at once. (The squiggly lines are words not in the dictionary).

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Delete trailing spaces

When you select the list, you notice gray areas to the right of the items in the list.

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These are extra space characters that I want to delete.  Forget the click and backspace or other method you might use. Press Control+A  to select all, then choose TextFX  > TextFX Edit > Trim Trailing Spaces. All spaces at the end are gone.

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Sort  paragraphs

Now that you have you have your list cleaned up a bit, you want to alphabetize the list. Select all your list, then choose TextFX > TextFX Tools > Sort lines case sensitive at columns, or one of the other sort options.

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And you have your list cleaned and sorted. Now you can drag and drop your text into a FrameMaker document. Hold the Control key if you want to copy your text.

Angie Mccuin

Blanca Novak

Candace Kowalski

Jason Carpentier

Manie Molyneux

Maryann Franko

Noe Rocha

Raymon Archambeault

Rocio Burnham

Violeta Denzer

 

Hint: You can choose View > Always on Top to make it easier to copy text out.

 

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