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Dynamic Annotations using Text Substitution

Last week some buzz in the Mac user community was around the discovered function of Text Substitution included in Mountain Lion.  With Text Substitution turned on you type something like (c) and it converts automatically to the copyright symbol ©.   I found that intriguing because I sometimes need those odd characters and sometimes I’m typing the same thing over and over again.  So I tried it out, and ….. well I was disappointed.  It worked for me in Textedit,  but not in Mail.app, and I pretty much live in Mail answering emails from you guys,  from partners, etc.  Text substitution is not new, it was only new and bundled in Mountain Lion.

A colleague here at CEI told me about Textexpander and told me that is what he uses.  Well for me that’s a big trump card because I can ask him questions and get help with it.  So I’m trying the trial version right now.

So far so good.  It works in email,  I can type “;cei”  and it give me “darin@ceisoftware.com”.   Savings like that could add up.  But I can also type “ddate” and get the current date, August 16, 2012.  That is dynamically it replaces the string “ddate” with the correct current date,  or time, or whatever.  Things I types lots of times a day, like the text “EnSight”, I can put in a snippet and get more done.

Now I was curious.  Would this work in EnSight?  I didn’t think it would.  Because the Apple Mountain Lion text substitution function doesn’t, I tried it.  Well if it works in Mountain Lion it doesn’t work for me,  same as Mail.app doesn’t work.   But Textexpander does work with EnSight.  If I type a string in the annotation field and it is a valid snippet I get my dynamic text, “ddate” will substitute to the dynamic date for today, August 16, 2012.  Nice,  EnSight and the rest of my computer work the same way with Textexpander.

Notice that what I type that gets converted is completely transient, it gets immediately converted to the snippet output by Textexpander, EnSight is unaware of anything going on.  In contrast EnSight has some dynamic annotation text, like the value of the isosurface which updates when you change the isosurface or the timestep which changes when the time solution is changed.  EnSight dynamic annotations work inside the dataset, Textexpander works more superficially.

So, what I’d like to know from our readers is, what ideas you have for good “snippets”  to use.  And what text expansion tools do you use?   Finally, tell me about other utilities you use to save time and effort in general?   I’ve found 1Password, Launchbar, and now Texpander to all be quite indispensable to my daily work.  What do you find useful?

To the Windows audience I’ve read that Texter is worth looking at, according to this Lifehacker article.  For Mac users this article focuses on Mac options.  And for Linux users Lifehacker has this article.  I don’t know which tools do or don’t work with EnSight, but Textexpander does and that makes me optimistic others can.

A prize for the best ideas for snippets, best recommended applications that save you time (EnSight of course, but no pandering to the judges please), and what is your experience using these text expansion/substitution tools and EnSight?

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