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Kate: Cool Tips and Tricks I

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Scott M. Morris

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Posted: 8 Sep 2005

Applies to:

  • Platforms using KDE

As a newer Linux user, it's a good idea to learn the basics of some specific concepts and applications. For example, you will want to pick up on a text editor. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with ssh, the secure shell. You'll want to learn the basics of the commandline. I also recommend selecting a desktop, such as KDE or Gnome. There are several other things that you'll want to jump right into. Here, I'm going to outline the first thing I listed, a text editor.

It's a simple thing, but many Linux users I know are fiercely loyal to their text editor of choice. It's almost religious for some of them. I like Kate (which comes with KDE), so that's what we'll look at here.

Let's start up Kate. Though it might be slightly different on your machine, I go to the K Menu, then UTILITIES, then EDITOR, and finally KATE:

By no means do I know everything about Kate. However, as time has gone by, I've picked up a couple of nice tips and tricks here and there that have helped me use it better. I'd like to share some of these things just in case it may benefit anyone.

Kate has quite a few nice features. For example, down the left side, you should see three tabs, FILESYSTEM BROWSER, PROJECTS, and DOCUMENTS:

For the most part, I use the features associated with the DOCUMENTS tab. To keep it open, click on the little square OVERLAP icon at the top of the pane:

So if I have a file open already, I can drag another one into this DOCUMENTS pane. Kate opens it, and its entry appears in this pane. Then, I can switch between files that I have open very easily. Once in a while, I have as many as 15 files open if I'm doing some hardcore PHP work or something. You'll notice that the entries in the DOCUMENTS pane will change colors. The darker blue the color, the more recently the file was selected from that list. Also, the darker pink the file entry is, the more it has changed since the file was first opened.

The PROJECTS tab allows you to open, define, and manage projects within Kate. I do not use this feature much, so check it out and see if you find it useful.

The FILESYSTEM BROWSER tab is basically a Konqueror filesystem browser window from which you can open additional text files to edit in Kate.

These tabs are quite a nice featureset provided by the folks that maintain Kate.

Another very nice thing about Kate is that it has the ability to split the editor pane various ways. Go up to the WINDOW menu. You will see that you can either split the window vertically or horizontally. It is also possible to do this multiple ways. Here's a humorously impractical illustration of what I mean:

What's really cool is that you can split the window horizontally, open one document in the upper half of the pane, and then open a different document in the lower pane. You could theoretically have as many documents in their own panes as you have open, depending on your needs.

Kate is quite a useful tool. We've looked at a small handful of the many great features that Kate gives us. Look for another article on more of these rich features in the future. There are still quite a bunch more to cover.

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