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Almost the clipboard

Works on highlighted text
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Step 1: Develop a set of tools that can operate on the text that is in a computer's clipboard. Things like 'change case', 'sort lines in to alphabetical order', 'swap windows/unix/mac line endings'. Little things that make life easier. Write them into the operating system so that they are available across all apps. Now I imagine this is fully baked as a third party add-on for major operating systems. That's OK... it's not the idea.

Step 2: In the API spec for the operating system, include a specification for any program that deals with text to expose the text that is currently highlighted in a standard way. This becomes the 'almost the clipboard' text and can have all the tools hinted at in step 1 applied to it. Now *that* is the idea.

All the text fields and edit boxes in the apps* on your operating system become capable of all kinds of text processing that they previously couldn't do and, if you implement this with a plug-in architechture, can also be expanded to do useful tasks that are specific to you.

*well, those written to take advantage of this, at least.

[update] Looking at the services menu, it seems like OSX is already capable of half of this -- it can take the text that is highlighted and pass it to another app without your copying it to the clipboard. As far as I am aware, there is no return path so although you could highlight a list and alphasort it in an external app, you'd still have to paste it back in manually.

st3f, Aug 05 2005

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       <irritating paper clip> I'm trying hard to imagine why I'd want to use, say, a disk defrag program as a word-processor (or vice-versa, for that matter). Have I misunderstood? </ipc>
coprocephalous, Aug 05 2005

       Possibly. Have amended the idea to make it a little clearer. This applies to any app that has a text field. So, the text boxes in your web browser and the edit fields of your email program and address book would gain functionality as would all your text editors and word processors. If you had any text input fields on your defrag program you might be able to use this functionality there. I, like you, can't see that as a place where these features would be useful, though.
st3f, Aug 05 2005

       I think it would be immensely useful to be able to spellcheck audio data that I happen to have selected, then sort it according to today's Frozen Orange Juice and Pork Bellies prices before emailing it to my hard drive's filesystem.
Ian Tindale, Aug 05 2005

       Mmm, pork bellies.   

       I had a program called View Clipboard on one computer, but I found it better to just open a Notepad window and muck with the text there. How is this idea better than cut-and-paste into a text processor? The only time that fails is in pasting passwords, I think.
baconbrain, Aug 05 2005

       I just like the idea of being able to alphabetically sort a list of names I'm entering in a text box in my web browser and do so with a few keystrokes rather than staring another app and pasting the text back and forth.   

       I did think of adding similar functionality to other data types that might get highlighted but figured I'd better take things one step at a time.
st3f, Aug 05 2005


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