Many users think that gedit – the default text editor for the GNOME desktop environment – is a simple editor that can only do some basic editing. In reality, there is more to gedit than meets the eye. It has many features that makes it a good choice for programmers: syntax highlighting, auto indentation, bracket matching, etc. But perhaps the most important feature of gedit is its powerful plugin system. There are many useful plugins out there for regular users and programmers alike, but in this post I’ll concentrate on 5 gedit plugins that are essential for programmers. I consider them essential because they can greatly increase your programming productivity and make your life easier (well, your programming life at least!).
Gedit comes with several plugins enabled by default (the list of enabled plugins varies from one Linux distribution to another). Additional plugins are available in the gedit-plugins package. In Ubuntu, this package can be easily installed by running the following command:
sudo apt-get install gedit-plugins
To access the list of plugins, select Edit -> Preferences, and then select the Plugins tab. Here, you can enable, disable, configure, and get more info about the available plugins.
Reduce the amount of typing you have to do by using Snippets, the auto-text insertion tool for gedit. It enables you to store “snippets” (frequently-used pieces of text), and insert them quickly into your file. Insertions can be done using a keyboard shortcut or a “tab trigger“. A tab trigger enables you to type a few characters and then hit the Tab key to insert the entire snippet (e.g. a switch statement or a for loop). The plugin comes with a number of built-in snippets for many programming languages. You can edit them and add your own by selecting Tools -> Manage Snippets.
Regarded by many as the most useful one, External Tools enables you to run any external command or shell script, specifying the keyboard shortcut, the input (if any), and where to display the output. It comes with a couple of useful programs pre-installed: Build, Open terminal here, Remove trailing spaces, and Run command. You can add your own by selecting Tools -> External Tools. For example, I’ve added a tool that invokes the Ruby interpreter on the current file and displays the output in the bottom pane.
3. Embedded Terminal
If you are not comfortable with the command line, then you are NOT a real programmer! This plugin adds a full instance of the Bash terminal in the bottom pane of gedit, complete with your modifications.
4. Session Saver
A very useful plugin, especially if you are working on a project requiring multiple files to be open at once. Sessions can be saved and loaded from File -> Saved sessions.
5. Code Comment
Can you remember the last time you edited a source file without commenting at least one line of code? Code Comment enables you to comment/uncomment blocks of code quickly: Ctrl+M to comment and Ctrl+Shift+M to uncomment.
Remember that there are many more gedit plugins, some of which are targeted to a specific language (like Python Console, which adds an interactive Python console to the bottom pane). Feel free to try different plugins and transform gedit into an even more powerful IDE that suites your needs.
What are your favorite gedit plugins that you can’t live without?
If you like this post and want to get more useful content, then please subscribe to my full text RSS feed.
[Update: Added 2 more resources]
Whether you are an RSS beginner, user, addict, or developer, you will find below a list of the best RSS tools and resources available on the Web for you. I’ll update it whenever I discover a new resource, so keep your eye on it! This post is part of my participation in the RSS Awareness Day – an initiative by Daily Blog Tips to raise awareness about RSS. (Yes, I was supposed to publish this yesterday, but it wasn’t ready yet. My bad)
Don’t know what RSS is? Really Simple Syndication is a way to publish and subscribe to frequently updated content such as blog entries, news headlines, and podcasts. If you follow a lot of frequently updated sites and you are not using RSS, then you are probably wasting a lot of time.
The following excellent video – from the CommonCraft Show – explains what RSS is, why it is important, and how to start using it:
- RSS – news you choose: CNET Reviews explains why RSS is important and how to read it.
- RSS – Wikipedia: if you want to know even more about RSS.
- What Is RSS? RSS Explained: provides a “one page quick introduction to RSS“.
- Why aren’t you using RSS?: a nice introduction to RSS. This post was featured in Lifehacker and Blogcritics.
Web-Based vs. Desktop-Based
Can’t decide whether to go for a Web-based or desktop-based RSS reader? The following blog posts might be helpful:
- The Web-Based vs. Desktop-Based Newsreader Showdown: Lifehacker compares Google Reader (arguably the most popular web-based newsreader) with the freeware, desktop-based readers from Newsgator.
- Why FeedDemon is Better Than Google Reader and Bloglines: Digital Inspiration discusses 10 features in FeedDemon (my favorite RSS reader) that makes it better than online news readers.
- Why Use a Desktop RSS Reader?: Nick Bradbury (the creator of FeedDemon) makes the case for desktop-based readers.
For People with RSS Addiction/Overload
Can’t stop subscribing to those feeds? Too much of anything can be bad, and this include RSS! If you are an RSS addict (like me), you are probably trying to accomplish an impossible mission. I tried that too, but I finally decided to hit the “Mark all as read” button. The following resources might help us in our struggle:
- AideRSS: an RSS-feed filtering service that uses a proprietary system called PostRank to determine the best posts on each blog.
- Feed Rinse: an advanced web-based tool that lets you filter out syndicated content that you aren’t interested in.
- How to Reduce RSS Stress In Your Online Life: Digital Inspiration offers some tips to beat the RSS stress and manage your RSS subscriptions more effectively.
- Seven Tips for Making the Most of Your RSS Reader: ReadWriteWeb offers seven methods for making the most of RSS.
For Sites with no RSS Feeds
Arrived at a website that has no feeds? There are several ways to deal with this situation:
- Dapper: a free web application that helps users in creating a feed for websites that lack one. Dapper is quite advanced and offers many customization options.
- Feed43: a free online service to convert any webpage to an RSS feed on the fly.
- Feedity: an RSS generator for web pages without syndication.
- FeedYes: a service to create an RSS feed from webpage even if they don’t offer them.
- How to Monitor Websites that don’t have RSS Feeds: Make Use Of mentions some ways to get notified about site updates when the site doesn’t offer RSS feeds.
- Page2RSS: a service that helps you monitor web sites that do not publish feeds.
Want to develop an RSS-related application? Check the list below for some useful resources:
- Build a customizable RSS feed aggregator in PHP: another article from developerWorks that shows how to use PHP-based server-side functions to develop a customizable RSS feed aggregator.
- RSS DevCenter: O’Reilly Network’s source for RSS developer news and information.
- SimplePie: an RSS parser written in PHP.
- Web Developer Resource Index – RSS: a very comprehensive list of RSS development resources.
Want to use RSS in a new way? There are many innovative tools and services out there:
- FeedBlitz: a popular RSS to e-mail converters that enables publishers to offer RSS by email to their subscribers.
- Feed Informer: a professional service that blends and converts RSS feeds to other formats for publishing.
- FeedJournal: a Web application to generate personalized newspaper-formatted PDFs from RSS feeds.
- FreeMyFeed: a service that allows you to bypass password-protected feeds.
- ReadBurner: a website that aggregates popular Google Reader Shared Items.
- RSS 2 PDF: An online utility that can convert RSS feeds into PDF files.
- RSS2Image: a service that takes an RSS feed and converts it to an image that can be displayed anywhere on the Web.
- RSSFWD: a service to deliver updates from RSS feeds straight to your email.
- RSS Mix: a web service that mixes multiple RSS feeds together into one new feed.
- SendMeRSS: a free service that lets you read your RSS feeds in your inbox. [Update: NBC has shut down SendMeRSS]
Can’t write a list about RSS resources without mentioning these:
- 14 “OTHER” Ways to Use RSS Feeds: Make Use Of discusses several other ways you can make use of RSS feeds.
- 30 RSS Resources For the Feed-Addicted Blogger: Webmaster-Source lists links for bloggers who are addicted to RSS and want their readers to be as well.
- The Ultimate RSS Toolbox – 120+ RSS Resources: Mashable made a comprehensive list of all the RSS readers, tools, browser plugins, tips, hacks and directories available on the web.
If you got any other useful RSS tools and resources, please mention them in the comments.
If you like this post and want to get more useful content, then please subscribe to my full text RSS feed.
a.k.a hit the “Mark all as read” button.
Yes, you will feel bad about it. Yes, you will miss things that are great, helpful, amazing, interesting, and cool. Still, you will survive (at least I did).
Why should you do it? Think about it: How can you find peace of mind when you are being constantly reminded that you have 1000+ items to read? Maybe you are an information junkie, but information overload can have drastic effects. For many of us, life’s just too short.
I used to keep good, long articles that needed concentration unmarked to read them on a later time, but the number of unread items kept increasing. Google Reader automatically marks an item as read after 30 days. So eventually, those articles were marked as read and I never got the chance to read them.
Engadget is a great blog, but I only manged to keep their RSS feed in my subscription list for less than a week. It was just overwhelming to receive around 40 posts/day from a single site. Armed with that little button, I will subscribe to it again.
What if you are not comfortable at all with hitting the “Mark all as read” button? You can subscribe to category feed(s) instead of the main one. This will reduce the number of posts you have to read and will help you avoid the ones that you are not interest in.
If you have 300+ subscriptions and you are able to manage them with ease, or if you don’t mind having 1000+ unread items all the time, then you don’t have to do it. But remember: When things get overwhelming, the “Mark all as read” button will always be there for you (hopefully!).
30: the number of days I set to accomplish the mission.
158: the number of subscriptions in my Google Reader account.
0: the number of unread items I was hoping to reach at the end of the 30-day period.
3780: the number of items I read.
126: average number of items read per day.
255: the number of unread items at the end of the 30-day period.
Conclusion: Keeping up with the Web is impossible!
At first, it was quite easy, but things got complicated as I entered my final exams period. The whole thing fall apart after I spent an entire day without an Internet connection. I tried to make up in the last day, but after reading 316 items, I raised the white flag!
What should I do now? Maybe I should organize the subscriptions according to their priority.
How about you? How many items do you read per day?
Every morning, Wasi Ahmed Yousaf, 37, of Manhattan Beach, Calif., puts on his sneakers and helmet and commutes to work on his bicycle. Yousaf ditched his car two months ago in favor of a more eco-friendly mode of transportation.
“I realized that global warming, pollution and other environmental issues are something that everyone has to pitch in [and do something about], and it’s a serious issue, but we can still resolve it” Yousaf said.
Yousaf has also made many other changes in his life. This includes no longer using those little, white, seemingly harmless Styrofoam cups to drink coffee or water at work. “Styrofoam is one of those materials that doesn’t get decomposed even if you leave it in the ground for 50 years” Yousaf said. “It is a non-biodegradable product. So, why are we simply wasting it? I stopped wasting it and took a ceramic cup from home.“
He’s also stopped drinking bottled water. Bottled water wastes fossil fuels and water in production and transport, and when bottled water is used, its disposal becomes a major source of waste, according to Food and Water Watch. The group said it requires more than 47 million gallons of oil to produce plastic water bottles for Americans each year.
Instead, Yousaf has switched to Nalgene bottles, and even his kids are using them. Nalgene bottles are inexpensive and can be used over and over, and are recyclable. Yousaf has also switched to energy-efficient light bulbs and is more energy conscious in general. For example, he won’t do half loads of laundry or run a half-filled dishwasher. And standing by the faucet as the water runs in the sink or taking long showers is a no-no in the Yousaf household.
“I’m trying to teach my kids. I am trying to influence them to take responsibility. The big question is what type of a world are we going to leave for our kids? I want to teach them so they can have an example.“
Going Green = Islam
Caring about the environment is a large part of the Islamic faith. Sadullah Khan, director of the Islamic Center of Irvine, said there are more than 500 verses in the Qur’an dealing directly with nature, the environment and natural phenomena. Many “surahs” or Qur’anic chapters are titled after animals or natural phenomena. “These references to the natural world around us aim at making us conscious of the Creator of creations, making us cognizant of our inextricable relationship with, and instilling in us a sense of respect for, Allah’s creation, nature” Khan said.
“Do you not observe that God sends down rain from the sky, so that in the morning the earth becomes green?” [Surah 22:63].
The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, is reported to have said, “Whoever plants trees, God will give him reward to the extent of their fruit.” (Musnad)
“The Prophet is quoted as saying, ‘When doomsday comes, if someone has a plant seed in his hand, he should plant it’ suggesting that even when all hope is lost for mankind, one should sustain nature’s growth” Khan said. “He believed nature remains a good in itself, even if man does not benefit from it.“
Muzammal Hussain, founder of the London Islamic Network for the Environment (LINE), described creation as existing as “one interlocking system, with human beings a part of it.” He said the concept of creation reflects the principle of oneness or tawhid, which is at the center of the Islamic faith.
“By ‘going green’ and living in harmony with the wider creation, we are honoring this principle, whereas if we live as though we are separate from the rest of creation, we would be going against what Islam teaches us” Hussain said. “Being ‘green’ is thus at the very heart of Islam. Effort is, however, needed for it to be in the heart of many more Muslims, as well as more Muslim organizations.“
It is easy being green
Yousaf believes every little step counts. He also recycles soda cans and tries to reduce waste in general.
Paper or plastic? Yousaf carries his own canvas bag for his grocery shopping. For produce, he steers clear of supermarkets. “I routinely go to the Farmer’s Market” Yousaf said. “I’m getting produce fresh from the field, and, somehow, I feel satisfied helping those smaller guys who are not chain stores.“
By choosing local and organic products, World Watch’s spokesperson Chafe said, fewer chemicals and pesticides will be consumed and kept from entering the ecosystems, local economies will be supported, and the carbon emissions associated with the transport of food minimized.
Chafe said “going green” can take many forms, and each person should consider what is appropriate for his or her life and interests. “The great news is that these decisions often have positive impacts that ripple far wider than our immediate communities and local environment” Chafe said.
For Yousaf, living green has not required making drastic changes to his lifestyle. He now feels healthier and has a more positive outlook because he knows that for every small change he has made, he is contributing to the greater good of saving the planet.
“I believe this is exactly what my religion wants me to do, to take care of everybody, myself, my surroundings. This world, that Allah created so beautiful, how can we mess it up?“