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Swizec Teller - a geek with a hatswizec.com

I wish this existed

This happens because not a single writing tool can tell me Hey you, yes you, you're using too many [filler words](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filler%28linguistics%29 "Filler (linguistics)"), yo!_

Ever since the 1990's programmers have been using a key piece of technology. An ubiquitous piece of tech that exists in even the most trivial of code editors, something that makes the life of a coder survivable.

Syntax highlighting!

This is what code looked like before syntax highlighting. Working with this wasn't impossible ... the longest piece of code I came up with was probably upwards of 4000 lines of very horrible code ... hey, I was 12, cut me some slack.

Turbo Pascal 6

I still remember the incredible joy that came with installing Turbo Pascal 7. Syntax Highlighting baby! No seriously, the code was suddenly better.

Life in general was better. I would compare quality of life before and after syntax highlighting to losing one's virginity. It is literally that awesome.

Turbo Pascal 7

I remember spending a lot of time just tweaking the highlighter settings, making sure everything looked just right. A well set up syntax highlighter makes you feel at home :)

These days I no longer pay much attention to syntax highlighting, I just take it for granted. If a file looks wrong in Emacs, you simply go on the internets, download the appropriate mode and voila, code looks good again.

Natural language syntax highlighting

Coding isn't all I do anymore, though A lot of my time is spent writing every day. My editors though ... are kind of lame.

When writing English my "code" still looks like it was 1994:

Distractionless writing

Writing without distractions is all fine and good, but syntax highlighting isn't a distraction! It's helpful!

What if instead of a cold hard piece of text staring back at me from the editor, there was something like this instead:

English syntax highlighting

This is just a simple mockup I put together in html in about 20 minutes. Syntax highlighting on the level of words

  • verbs are pink
  • pronouns are green
  • nouns are blue
  • errors have a red background

Not sure how visible it is, but when editing a sentence, it would be useful for the start and end of it to be highlighted with a light blue hue ... just like parenthesis matching when coding!

It would be really cool if syntax highlighting for natural languages went beyond words and onto concepts, where it isn't just the noun that turns blue, but all adjectives attached to it would get a blue-ish background.

That would help incredibly when it comes to overloading.

Who could use this?

If natural languages were a bit simpler, we'd already have syntax highlighters ... or maybe nobody's thought of this before?

I for one do enough writing that I would pay for something like this. Make it a wordpress plugin or something ... or an emacs mode. I don't care, I want it!

Hopefully I'm not the only person who needs this, there is a whole market of book and magazine editors, professional writers, journalists and so on who could benefit from something like this.

However, all of those people will never ask for syntax highlighting, I doubt many of them even realize such a concept exists.

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Published on March 23rd, 2012 in Code, editor, Highlighter, HTML, Programming, Syntax, Syntax highlighting, Turbo Pascal, Uncategorized

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