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18 Visual Editors

This chapter is about maintaining Cheetah templates with visual editors, and the tradeoffs between making it friendly to both text editors and visual editors.

Cheetah's main developers do not use visual editors. Tavis uses emacs; Mike uses vim. So our first priority is to make templates easy to maintain in text editors. In particular, we don't want to add features like Zope Page Template's placeholder-value-with-mock-text-for-visual-editors-all-in-an-XML-tag. The syntax is so verbose it makes for a whole lotta typing just to insert a simple placeholder, for the benefit of editors we never use. However, as users identify features which would help their visual editing without making it harder to maintain templates in a text editor, we're all for it.

As it said in the introduction, Cheetah purposely does not use HTML/XML tags for $placeholders or #directives. That way, when you preview the template in an editor that interprets HTML tags, you'll still see the placeholder and directive source definitions, which provides some ``mock text'' even if it's not the size the final values will be, and allows you to use your imagination to translate how the directive output will look visually in the final.

If your editor has syntax highlighting, turn it on. That makes a big difference in terms of making the template easier to edit. Since no ``Cheetah mode'' has been invented yet, set your highlighting to Perl mode, and at least the directives/placeholders will show up in different colors, although the editor won't reliably guess where the directive/placeholder ends and normal text begins.

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