Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Change my clipboard?

Despite the fact that Jeff Atwood has some cool stuff on his keychain (and therefore obvious geek credibility), I am not entirely certain that I agree with his recent clipboard post.

His thesis is basically that it is about time to add some more functionality to the clipboard because, well, it is about time.

I am not so sure though. I would definitely want any new clipboard functionality to be very well thought out. Sometimes the power of an idea (clipboard, unix pipes) comes from its simplicity.

More often than not I find myself desperately wishing that I could remove functionality from my Windows clipboard. It used to be that every application supported a "paste special" function that was always available and worked smoothly, but that is no longer the case. I guess people found it confusing or something. Even applications that support "paste special" often have it greyed out at times when it would make sense for it to be available, or it has no good keyboard shortcut (in MS Word to paste plain text it is "alt-e, s, up-arrow, enter" - not exactly convenient. There are options if you want to go to some effort).

More than 99% of my copy/paste operations between applications are either pure unformatted text or image. To get the text functionality that I need I have to run PureText or keep a notepad window open, so that I can paste text there and re-copy it sans formatting. I would be very happy if only unformatted text and images worked between applications.

I don't want it to be more complex. I want it to be simpler.

On the other hand I can't find anything wrong with the idea of adding ClipX functionality. But I can already do that by installing ClipX (and I probably will if it doesn't conflict with anything else I run). Why change the operating system?


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