The Text Editing Kata - VS Code Edition

Posted on Tue 01 May 2018 in Posts

I recently stumbled across this article which had a challenge/kata to do some funky text editing to convert a list of strings into some specially formatted HTML. The idea is take input like:

Basic Price
Sub total
... etc ...

And produce:

<dt runat="server" id="dtBasicPrice">Basic Price</dt>
<dd runat="server" id="ddBasicPrice"></dd>

<dt runat="server" id="dtDiscount">Discount</dt>
<dd runat="server" id="ddDiscount"></dd>

<dt runat="server" id="dtSubTotal">Sub total</dt>
<dd runat="server" id="ddSubTotal"></dd>

.... etc ....

That is, for each line produce a <dt> and <dd> tag, with the id of those tags being the text, but with the text coverted to title case (first character following a space capitalized) and spaces removed.

My first attempt was literally just typing each line manually using no shortcuts other than copy & paste. It took me just over 10 minutes to do the entire list of 24 lines.

There has to be a better way. I saw some discussion using Sublime, Vi, Emacs, and other editors, but all seemed a bit beyond me.

I then thought and thought, and Googled & Googled, and tried various tricks and ideas.

Eventually I came up with a technique with which I did the entire exercise in just over a minute. Here's a recording of it, note that this does require the change-case extension:

Ok, that's hard to follow, but this is the gist of what I did. Note that some shortcut keys may be different for you, because I've remapped a bunch of keys, and installed the Sublime Text Keymap extension

  • Command palette (⌘+p), pick "Trim Trailing Whitespace"
  • Select all lines (⌘+a), and copy (⌘+c)
  • Open new buffer (⌘+n) and paste (⌘+v)
  • Spit view (⌘+v), and close the left hand version of the 2nd buffer
  • Go to 2nd buffer, select all lines, command palette, then pick "Change Case title"
    • this requires the change-case extension
  • Find & replace (⌘+shift+f), search for single blank space & replace with nothing
    • make sure "Use Regular Expression" is turned on
  • Go back to 1st buffer
  • select all, multiline edit (⌘+shift+l), copy
  • paste, then enter to put newline between each & have alternating line cursors
  • go to end of line, and enter to add the extra blank line
  • without deselecting go to 2nd buffer, select all & copy
  • go back to 1st buffer, go to start of line, paste
  • manually type "> to close the opening tag
  • go to end of line, and add the closing </dt> tag
  • go to start of line, and manually type <dt runat="server" id="dt
    • this finishes the <dt> tag lines
  • without deselecting go down one line, and go to start of line
  • highlight to end of line & paste
  • manually type "></dd>
  • go to start of line & manually add <dd runat="server" id="dd
  • profit!

Or, you could just write a little Python script to do it:

import fileinput

def process_line(line):
    line = line.strip()
    idline = line.title().replace(" ", "")
    return f"""<dt runat="server" id="dt{idline}">{line}</dt>
<dd runat="server" id="dd{idline}"></dd>

for line in fileinput.input():

This was a fun, albeit contrived editor example that really stretched my knowledge of how to wrangle text with VS Code.

Edit: re-recorded again this time doing the steps a bit more concisely.