Find, replace, guess

This posting is dedicated to the intelligent (or not so intelligent things) we do around text.

“Find and Replace” is a very old dialog box in MS Office.

Predictive word completion is also old. Many readers may be surprised that even before SMS became popular, some kind of predictive word completion was existing in OpenOffice.

I am not lazy about typing it out. However, I am stickler for the quality, uniformity and conformance.

One of the (bore) tasks  I have to do is to edit similar looking documents and change at some place – say from “Test Engineer Grade I” to “Test Engineer Grade II”. “Find and Replace” works fine in this case – but let me tell you, it is woefully user unfriendly.

While working with such documents, we generally tend to have afterthoughts. “Omigosh! I could use a ‘find and replace’ instead!”

Why doesn’t “Find and Replace” become a bit more intelligent? Here are clues:

  • If I copy over a document from “Test Engineer I.doc” to “Test Engineer II.doc” and open “Test Engineer II.doc”, why can’t the environment be intelligent enough to ask me “Do you want to replace ‘Test Engineer I’ with ‘Test Engineer II’ across the document?”? This goes back to the meta-level awareness that we have discussed before regarding file browsing.
  • Even within the document, if I move my cursor and change (edit or replace) a string from ‘I’ to ‘II’, why doesn’t it ask ‘Replace everywhere?’?
  • And the above can be carried out with expandable scope of text

I know I am unclear about this idea. I need to rush a lot of such documents before the end of the day.

Please keep commenting on this so that we can expound the idea.

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