survey: Incremental search usefulness

  • Hello users,
    here is a survey about the “incremental search” usefulness.

    Do you use it ?
    Do you need regular expression support ?
    Do you need an incremental mode in the find panel ?
    Do you need an incremental mode in the replace panel ?
    Do you need an incremental mode in the mark panel ?

    thanks for the feedback.

  • AFAIK “incremental search” is already supported by the find and replace panels as “Find Next” and its shortcut F3 outside the panels.

    I’ve never used the Incremental Search (i.e. Ctrl+Alt+I) functionality in Notepad++.
    I always use Ctrl+F to start a search, Ctrl+H to start a replace and F3 (or the applicable button in the panel) to continue a search or skip a replace respectively.

    So… Yes, I do need “Incremental Search” which supports Regular Expressions but not as an additional/separate implementation as available with shortcut Ctrl+Alt+I.

  • Same here: I use incremental search as a replacement of normal search, rather than as an alternative method.

  • @hoppfrosch1

    Same here

    The way I read/understand your post/answer it’s not the same as mine. Could you elaborate?

  • @cmeriaux

    Do you use it ? Yes, I do. I even have it in my pythonscript file to turn it on so it is always sitting at the bottom of my window.

    Do you need regular expression support ? No, I would go to the Find panel for that when I need it

    Do you need an incremental mode in the find panel ?
    Do you need an incremental mode in the replace panel ?
    Do you need an incremental mode in the mark panel ?
    No, no and no: One of the plusses of the incremental search is that it isn’t in a separate window

    What’s the point of asking about this? Are you going to campaign for changes/removal to the Incremental Search feature?

  • @Scott-Sumner I asked because an incremental mode has been developed by MojaveWastelander ( but it was refused because an increment search already exist.
    I wanted to know if the incremental search is popular among users.

  • @cmeriaux

    I see. So while I do use the existing Incremental Search feature, I also think it could be made better. After observing Notepad++ development for a while (and definitely from a distance!), it seems like it is really hard to get feature improvements (meaning entire replacements of existing features) adopted. So there are a few alternatives to this: Plugins and, to a lesser degree, scripting.

    It seems like the only thing that MojaveWastelander’s Incremental Search implementation would lack as a plugin would be a direct tie-in to the Find panel. Considering making it a plug-in might be the difference between getting it out there and having it die. My 2c.

  • cmeriaux,

    Do you use it ?
    I rarely use the incremental (CTRL/ATL/I) search as the find (CTRL F) search is so powerful, either searching in a single or across many documents using the “Find All in”.

    Do you need regular expression support ?
    I do not at this time.

    Do you need an incremental mode in the find panel ?
    Not needed, but could be nice as an added option. As MAPJe71 stated, this “Find Next” does perform this incremental search, but a “Find Next in All Opened” could be useful.

    Do you need an incremental mode in the replace panel ?
    Yes, I would make good use of the functionality to find and incremental replace in Notepad++. I desperately need one that can work across multiple open files within Notepad++. I often open several hundred files that contain a unique string in each file that I’d like to be able to manipulate across all files at once.

    Do you need an incremental mode in the mark panel ?
    I don’t use this functionality.

  • Essential. I would switch to another text editor if NPP didn’t have it.

  • I don’t use it.
    I like the find window that pops in the middle of the screen over the modern approach that opens in corners.
    Whatever is done for incremental search please don’t break the traditional find.

  • i use the incremental search because is immediate, and i discover this “search mode” after trying to teach Notepad++ to my mum (for a blind user is the only fast way for do a text search having the results on focus rather than on a other window. there’s also a NVDA plugin that help this function to be more usefulness.)

    the normal search (ctrl+f and ctrl+h) don’t send to NVDA any output after “Find” or other button is pressed.

  • I like incremental search as well.

  • I would try to resurrect this topic and ask @Scott-Sumner & @cmeriaux if something akin of VIM search was considered as the valid milestone for the roadmap.

    Two key differences that come to mind:

    1. Regexp support in the search field using real-time highlighting.
    2. Ability to create marks for the lines matching the search results.

    Latter would probably translate into the optional propagation of the search results into the “search results window” in Notepad++.

  • @asvc “incremental search” and “classic search” shares the same code. So in theory, it could be easy to add a “reg exp” option in the incremental search.
    About mark creation, I don’t know.

    In an other hand, lot’s of feature are not accepted by the project owner. it would be better to have @Don-HO approval before dev otherwise it would be a waste of time.

  • @cmeriaux said in survey: Incremental search usefulness:

    it could be easy

    Very few things ever end up being “easy”, in software development.
    I’ve not attempted dev on Notepad++ itself, but I do other software dev.
    Anything that seems easy on the surface often has hard-to-overcome implications, and often in the end can’t be implemented at all (without huge risk).
    But, I wish people would stop using the “E” word, even prefaced with “In theory”

    Here’s the first “hard” thing about it, the entire idea:

    I don’t know that I like the idea of incremental search being regex-capable.
    Typing regexes isn’t like typing normal text.
    With normal text you pretty much know where you are going; part of the flow of typing.
    In typing regex it is more of an experimental process; try something, see what matches, back it out, add something new…
    If I’m using incremental search, my goal is to find something really fast, not mess around with a regex.

    Also, one presumes that dot matches newline would never be enabled for this?
    As an example of why this would be bad:
    Type .* into the incremental search box and you are instantly sitting with your caret at end of file, with no great way to get back to where you started so you can do a better incremental search.
    Maybe the answer is, don’t type .*, but…

    I suppose one could argue, if you don’t like the regex part of this feature, don’t enable it. Presumes that the feature would have an enable/disable.

    @asvc said:

    Ability to create marks for the lines matching the search results

    Surely there is already sufficient mechanism for this type of operation WITHOUT involving the incremental search feature.

  • @ Alan-Kilborn I’m sorry but I don’t like your tone. You can moderate your language and show a little more respect and diplomacy.
    When i say “incremental search” and “classic search” shares the same code. So in theory, it could be easy to add …” it’s because I know the code behind. I didn’t said that without knowing anything behind. I’m a contributor, ok it’s only 14 commits but it’s better than nothing.
    You may write less on the forum and contribute more on github

  • @cmeriaux

    I’m not sure what was objectionable about my language/tone/respectfulness/diplomacy in the posting above. Sure, sometimes my posts are a little “dicey” but I don’t see it this time around. :-)

    I stick by my “nothing is easy” stance. I fight that perception (and the fallout from it) on a daily basis at work. Code can be shared by functionalities, but that doesn’t necessarily make anything easier; sometimes it is a burden that makes things harder. “Bound by your history” and all that…

    I have built the Notepad++ source code myself, and have experimented with it a bit to see how certain things work, but I choose not to contribute any changes, because of one more thing that I’ve observed that is not “easy”: It is not easy (or even likely) to get your code changes accepted. I see you agree with that now that I reread your posting: “lot’s of feature are not accepted by the project owner”

    I have seen some of your contributions and I thank you for them as they have made Notepad++ better. You are lucky that your small amount of commits have been welcomed into the codebase.
    By the way, I don’t think 14 commits is “small”; more like “medium” amount. :-)


    In commenting on my “tone” you seem to have ignored the rest of the content of my earlier posting; where I raise some points about possible changes to incremental search. I’d certainly be interested in what you think, as would others I’m sure.

  • Hello @cmeriaux, @alan-kilborn, @asvc and All,

    Like Alan, I’m really dubious about the advantages of regular expressions in incremental search ! A simple example :

    Let’s suppose you would like to highlight all occurrences of ranges of characters between the uppercase letter I and the closest lowercase letter w, so the regex I.*?w :

    • First, we tick the two options Highlight all and Match case

    • Pressing the I letter, I get ### occurrences

    • Pressing the . char => Just 1 occurrence : this regex ;-))

    • As we could search for the literal string I. OR for the regex I., we need an option that would had been previously ticked. Let’s assume it’s the case. Then :

    - I       =>   Any uppercase letter I
    - I.      =>   Any uppercase letter I followed by ONE STANDARD character
    - I.*     =>   Any uppercase letter I followed by ALL STANDARD characters of CURRENT line
    - I.*?    =>   Any uppercase letter I followed by the SHORTEST range, possibly NULL of STANDARD chars => Letter I ONLY
    - I.*?w   =>   Any uppercase letter I followed by the SHORTEST range, possibly NULL of STANDARD chars till a lowercase letter w

    Seemingly, there’s no logic on such a progression ! I, personally, prefer to use the Mark dialog to get, at once, all occurrences of the regex I.*?w, with the possibility of bookmarking all the lines where the different occurrences occur ;-))

    Some thoughts :

    • It could be of some interest to add an option Match whole word to the traditional incremental search !

    • To easily switch between the incremental dialog, keeping it opened and the main text window, I, personally, use :

      • The Ctrl + Alt + I shortcut to focus on the Incremental dialog, again

      • A double hit on the Windows key to focus on the main text window, again ( A work-around ! )

    • To close the incremental dialog, when focused, I simply hit the ESC key

    => Surely, easier methods for such actions could be implemented ;-))

    As a conclusion, I believe that the Incremental search should remain rather basic, at it is in some browsers, while hitting the Ctrl + F shortcut !

    Best Regards,


  • @cmeriaux , @Alan-Kilborn , @guy038 .

    It sounds like “incremental” is a bit of a point of disagreement here.
    How about we replace it with the “regular search in the docked panel”?

    To elaborate on the usefulness of the real-time highlighting (massive time-saver!), here as a short example using the message above.

    Say I want to wrangle lines that begin with the - I.* pattern:

    VIM selection

    Instant visual feedback reaffirms correctness of the chosen regexp and allows user to adjust it on the fly.

  • @asvc

    The type of search demonstrated (effective screencast, BTW) does indeed seem useful as something different than the incremental search feature.

    I like that it doesn’t move the caret and thus the user’s view at his data doesn’t “jump” as I mentioned before. Even if the match extends below the user’s view I think the screen should not change (too much of a lost of context)?

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