If you spend a lot of time in MindTouch like I do (I spend all day in it!), you already know that you click the “Edit” and “Save” buttons more than anything else. When you’re at the bottom of a 3,000-line page and come across something that needs editing, you wind up having to scroll all the way back to the top to click the “Edit” button. And then of course, you have to scroll all the way back down to what you wanted to edit in the first place. Click save, and voilá… you just wasted 10 seconds more of your day scrolling and clicking.
Now, 10 seconds ain’t a lot. I can’t even heat up my coffee in that amount of time. However, if I’m losing 10 seconds every time I make an edit, it adds up throughout the day. Frederick Winslow Taylor and his time-motion studies helped Henry Ford to devise production lines, which in turn made affordable the cars that you and I drive today.
So that’s my excuse for the following shortcuts and tactics I’ve started using to edit pages. It’s not because I’m lazy. Really. Honestly. Seriously! Ok fine I’m lazy. But tying Fordism into my blog post sounds better than “moving my fingers is too much effort”. Bear in mind that I use Firefox extensively, almost to the exclusion of other editors, so if you’re using IE, Chrome, or Safari, some of these shortcuts may not be available to you.
Shortcut #1: The Universal Edit Button
Get it. Use it. Love it.
Shortcut #2: AutoHotKey
I just recently discovered AutoHotKey. I’ve been looking for something like this for a while. Lifehacker and PC Magazine both have written positive reviews on it, so I felt ok giving it a whirl. Plus, it’s open source, so that gives it a few bonus points in my book. It can do a whole heck of a lot more than just getting you into edit mode in MindTouch, so check it out when you’ve got the time. The only downside is that it’s Windows-only, although I’m sure something similar exists out there for Mac users.
After you’ve downloaded and installed AutoHotKey, run the AutoIt3 Window Spy program in the AutoHotKey application folder (it’ll sit on top of everything). Then head to a MindTouch page within a maximized Firefox browser. You’ll see the Mouse Position change; mouse over the Universal Edit Button and take note of the “In Active Window” mouse coordinates, and close the Window Spy.
Next, run AutoHotKey. The first time it runs, say “Yes” to viewing the sample script. Then, on a non-commented line (a line not preceeded by a ‘;’), enter:
where XXXX and YY are the coordinates you retrieved from the Window Spy. This particular command is simply saying “When I press ctrl-shift-e, move the mouse to these coordinates and click.” Feel free to change the key combination; it made the most sense to me (the list of keys is in the help file located in the AutoHotKey application folder). Next, save the file, and run AutoHotKey again to register your new shortcut.
Head back to your maximized Firefox browser, and give your shortcut a go! If the coordinates aren’t right, you can edit them by using the Window Spy again and re-entering them in the script file.
Note that these coordinates are for when the browser is maximized; if you try to use this shortcut with the browser in a state other than maximized the shortcut won’t work. Since I never work in a browser that isn’t maximized, this wasn’t an issue for me. Also, this is a global shortcut, so even if you don’t have Firefox open the same behavior will still be triggered.
Shortcut #3: Search Page
This one would seem to be the most obvious, but so many people just don’t use it. Once you’re in Edit mode, assuming you know what you’re looking to edit, ctrl-f is a good friend to have. If you’re lazy efficient like me and have Firefox set to search for text as I start typing, you’ll have to click somewhere outside the body of the editor and then start typing to find the text.
Shortcut #4: Use The Editor’s Shortcuts!
The MindTouch Editor Documentation Page does a fantastic job of detailing many of the shortcuts the editor has. Several, such as ctrl-b for bold or ctrl-i for italics, are well known since they’re incorporated into the Microsoft Office suite. There are a number of other keyboard shortcuts there as well, to me the most notable being ctrl-shift-s to save your edit. In addition, Guerric S. has a few more editor hints that are extremely useful for formatting.
I’m sure that others have come up with additional ways to make working within MindTouch faster and more efficient; these shortcuts are just a few that I’ve used. If you’ve come up with some and want to share, please post up in the MindTouch Forums or in the MindTouch Developer Community. These tips and tactics may not result in the next modern mode of transportation, but it’ll certainly help to save time throughout the day (as well as wear and tear on your hands)!