Thursday, June 19, 2008

Extending cut-and-paste: understanding split copies

A multi-item clipboard is a list of items.

On the one hand, items can be individually added to that list


where those items might be taken from different places within the present document, or from within a number of documents.

On the other, multiple items can be added to the list in a single go using a split copy. The items come from a single range of text, which the split copy divides up into individual items, each of which becomes its own item on the clipboard.

It's copying from a list of items in the document to another list of items in the clipboard. These are different types of lists.

The list in the document is an implicit list - the text editor doesn't really know that it exists (it does in some limited ways, like being able to press CTRL+RIGHT_ARROW_KEY to jump to the start of the next word).

The list in the clipboard is an explicit list. Each item is separate, and the operations understand that it's a list of items. The advantage of this is that you can then tell it to paste just the third item, and then later when you need the fourth item, just that.

Both implicit and explicit lists have their own advantages (and disadvantages). Implicit structure allows you to deal with the information in a more fluid way, and explicit structure imposes more rigidity.

Cut-and-paste is for repurposing information, whether for editing what you've got, or for making a new copy of the information in another context. In either case, you're making a copy of the information from a source, and then putting that information back into a destination (which may even be the same place).

It can be useful to take an implicit list and copy it into an explicit list, so then you can repurpose that information as a list of items -- pasting individual items at different times in different contexts, for example.

Split copies allow you to translate between the implicit and explicit.

No comments:

Post a Comment