Why is Find & Replace so hard?

The Visual Studio 2005 Find/Replace dialog boxWhat is it about Find & Replace?

Noone seems to get it right.

Visual Studio 2005 is one of the worst culprits.

I guess the main problem is that as with so much Microsoft stuff, they seem caught between catering for beginner and expert – and wind up getting it wrong for both.

1. The box pops up the ‘9 occurrence(s) replaced.’ message in an oversized, separate window – but if you uncheck ‘Always show this message’, the confirmation message is displayed (miles away) on the window frame.

2. Those rather puzzling right-pointing buttons next to the text entry fields are disabled unless you use regular expressions or wildcards – but there’s no way to know that unless you’ve ticked the relevant box, which is hidden.

3. What the hell is ‘Quick Replace’ as opposed to ‘Replace’? Who cares?

4. There are effectively four dialog boxes in total: Quick Find, Quick Replace, Find in Files, Replace in Files. There could easily be just two, or even one.

5. Find & Replace in the HomeSite editor has a wonderful, simple feature: multi-line text fields. You can put line breaks in the find or replace text without scary stuff like regular expressions.

6. Anyway – pop-up boxes are annoying and slow – why not have a simple Find area in the window frame, as in Firefox?

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About Sam Dutton

I am a Developer Advocate for Google Chrome. I grew up in rural South Australia, went to university in Sydney, and have lived since 1986 in London, England. Twitter: @SW12
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