Why Do We Always Change Notepad?

Notepad is a given. Its on every Windows machine, going back to Win16. When you need to edit something in a hurry, on any machine, then it is the obvious tool of choice. And yet with every Windows release, someone decides to change it. Not in a big way, but for changes sake. To keep them in a job or something.

Some time between Win 3.1 and XP the Find key changed. I cannot remember the details, but it took years to adjust especially when I was still using both the old and the new versions. AARG.

When XP came out, the Goto Line feature became disabled seemingly randomly. AAARG. Turns out someone decided to disable it when in word-wrap mode, to make it different from Windows 2000.

And now we have Vista Beta 2. Although the Find key hasn't changed and Goto Line is still broken in the same way, the Save Changes dialog is different. Load a file, make changes, Alt-F4, it asks you if you want to save the changes and you hit Alt-Y or Alt-N for Yes or No. Not any more. AAAARG. The dialog buttons now says Save/Don't Save with the keyboard shortcuts of S and D. Alt Y/N do nothing except Beep. Why on earth did someone do this? The text changes alone require re-localization for the zillions of languages that Windows supports, never mind the pure annoyance of the change. At least Esc is still Cancel.

Maybe it is crazy stuff like this, multiplied by 1000, that can cause an entire operating system to slip?

Comments (12)
  1. Tommy says:

    You are bitching

  2. LuftWaffle says:

    <Does nose-pointy thing>

  3. Joku says:

    alt-f4 alt-y?

    I find alt-f4 hard hit with one hand.

    Used to alt+f,x,enter to save. Press right arrow there to change the save to Don’t save.

  4. Dave says:

    I completely agree with you… some standards should always be the same… like CTRL-F for find.

    Works everywhere except in MS applications where it is random.

    Whenever I press that when viewing an Outlook email message, Bill gets some very directed profanity about lack of standards.

    Likewise, when things change for no apparent reason, the same happens.

    ALT-F, X (or ATL-F4) then Y or N is the norm.

    Now you’re telling me it’s ALT-Y or ALT-N?

    Late and unusable….

  5. Phaeron says:

    Find didn’t have a keyboard shortcut in Windows 3.1, only Find Next did (F3). I don’t think it got one until it was moved from the Search menu to Edit (Windows 2000?).

    I didn’t know that Go To worked on word wrapped files in Windows 2000. Sure would be nice if it did. Perhaps there was a bug where it didn’t work properly?

    Here’s what really drives me crazy, though. Windows XP shipped with three text editors, and only one of them still didn’t support LF-only. Hint: It wasn’t MS-DOS Edit. They did the work to update the dialog in Vista Notepad, but still didn’t add LF support? Gee, thanks.

    Whenever I complain about Notepad to others, I’m always told to get one of the many Notepad replacements. Problem is, when you’re on someone else’s machine, it’s never the same one.

  6. Andy-Pennell says:

    I was wrong about Alt-Y and Alt-N – plain old Y and N work on XP. And don’t work on Vista.

    XP Notepad even supports big-endian UTF16 files, which is VERY useful for us HD DVD folks. I wish findstr did…

    I am going to open a Vista bug on this, we’ll see where that gets us.

  7. Andy-Pennell says:

    Well I opened a bug about this in the Vista bug db, and it was resolved Wont Fix. The change was to make Notepad conform to "Vista UI Guidelines" so is not going to change back. [You can probably guess what I think of those guideline]s. Ironically WordPad and Paint, which I use almost never, still have the Yes/No as they use MFC and can’t be changed to conform to this great guideline.

  8. KG says:

    I’m the ex-MS employee who Raid’d this issue in the NT 5.0 bug DB back in 1998.  Basically goto-line never worked in word-wrap mode, it just went to the wrong line, so you had to remember if word-wrap was on or not before using it.  Instead of fixing the problem, the ruling program manager decided to punt for Win2k, and simply disable goto-line in word-wrap mode for XP.  It was a pain-in-the-butt back then and it still is and outta be fixed, but nobody wants to bother to schedule it.  Kinda niggling problem that the open-source development model is much better at solving; someone just goes and fixes it without all the stupid mgmt getting in the way.

  9. notepadbl says:

    I am a blind from birth programmer who does not use an IDE because quite frankly there interface is so visually oriented from a display point of view that it provides very little benefit.  I write my programs in "wordpad".  I inspect program errors output  by the compiler/interpreter in "notepad" because "wordpad" does not have a goto line feature.  Of course, I turn word wrap on in wordpad/notepad and I thought goto worked with wrap on.  It seems like it did but it could just be my imagination.  Well! Now, it is disabled in notepad and I was delighted that the remedy was on this blog.  I will make sure word wrap is toggled off before going anywhere in "notepad".  Thanks for the help and clearing up my lack of understanding and possibly my crazy idea that this ever worked in notepad with wrap turned on.  Maybe I need a head checkup!

  10. Andy-Pennell says:

    I am running Vista every day at work now and I just noticed THEY FIXED IT! Despite originally resolving my bug as Wont Fix, someone must have had a change of heart and it works as it always did. Yeah!

  11. gavin says:

    I completely agree, and I found when wondering out of frustration whether anyone else had this problem.  My XP laptop is on the skids, so I just moved to a more (physically) stable Vista machine; hence the annoyance.

    For what it’s worth, they *also* changed the default behavior of the Save confirmation box, so that the default is to save, rather (I think) than to cancel exit.  So, instead of habitually hitting Alt+F4,Y, and wondering why the thing is still there, I’m going to try what should be an easier transition, Alt+(F4,F4), which will close and save using fewer keys than before.  So, it’s an improvement after all!  😉

  12. Nanos says:

    I wonder if they used any of the code in the Nokia 9500 Communicator as I notice the text editor there has the exact same annoying scroll bugs I've seen in the XP version of notepad I use here!

    I keep dreaming of the day someone will make a phone without serious bugs so I can actually use it to do some work on!

    Such as the ability to leave a file open for 3 weeks without the machine crashing, or the memory card file system being 100% compatible with my PC card reader and not just 99.9%.

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