Notepad has been a core app in Windows since the operating system’s first version. However, unlike other features in the OS, the text editor wasn’t the recipient of improvements.
This changed recently, when the Redmond company gave the text editor a much-needed overhaul. If you are out of the loop, the latest version of Notepad brought several new features such as Multilevel Undo and Redo, Emoji support, Drag and Drop text, Unicode characters, etc. The interface of the program received a makeover that has a fluent design with rounded corners, new menu styles, a settings page, and even a Dark Theme.
A dev blog article at Microsoft’s website highlights the technical details behind the improvements made to Notepad. The classic version of the text editor had a couple of features like Line-ending Detection (CR, LF, CRLF), and Show Unicode control characters. These hurdles made it difficult for Microsoft to make the transition to the new version.
The latest build of Notepad uses the RichEdit engine that is implemented in Microsoft Office applications like Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote. This allowed the developers to modernize the program to add features like auto URL detection, color emojis, etc. Notepad has been made available at the Microsoft Store, and this has allowed the company an easy way to update and improve the app.
The Future of Notepad
The blog post by a Microsoft Engineer, Microsoft’s Murray Sargent, outlines the plans in store for Notepad. Since RichEdit has been properly implemented in Notepad, the tool could gain additional formatting options including text coloring, spell check and other Rich Text Format (RTF) features. It is possible that Notepad could assist programmers to write code faster with features such as syntax highlighting, indentation for XML files, toggling between start and end tags for HTML/XML, JSON.
It is certainly interesting to see the direction in which the basic-yet-essential text editor is heading toward. I’ll admit that I was worried whether the new Notepad would be bogged down by the new features. But it has been quite similar in terms of performance, when compared to how the old version used to run. Of course, my use case might not be the same as yours. I primarily use the program for viewing/editing small documents, or to jot down notes, simply because it is the fastest program in Windows.
Microsoft’s article does mention that the program struggles to handle large files. It turns out auto URL detection is one of the culprits that impacts the experience. But it also goes on to say that the text editor’s performance needs to be improved for such tasks, so that is something we can look forward to. The post also states that some of the features that were added to the text editor were inspired by options that are available in Visual Studio Code. These include the new Find and Replace drop-down menu, character selection, and plain-text controls.
I wish Notepad had an auto-save option, supported tabs and sessions like in Notepad++ and CudaText.
What features do you want to see in Notepad?
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