There’s something about typing in a trigger word into your code editor, hitting the Tab key, and seeing it suddenly transformed into a custom function, class, object, or whatever which you’ve created– it feels magical.
I know it’s not truly magical, obviously. But it feels like it.
For context, I’m mentioning this because I’m in the middle of migrating from the 32-bit version of my coding editor to the 64-bit version. The plugin I currently use to manage my reusable code snippets is only available in a 32-bit DLL, it hasn’t been updated in nearly 6 years, etc. There is a different code snippet plugin available for the 64-bit version, it’s actively developed and maintained, has great documentation, arguably better UX/UI, and does everything the previous plugin does . . . except for the trigger word/Tab key transformation.
The analytical part of my brain says this is a no-brainer: “Migrate your code snippets to the new plugin.”
The creative side of me, however, is like: “But it’s missing THE coolest feature! Can’t we download the plugin source from GitHub and re-compile it in Visual Studio as a 64-bit DLL, or make a wrapper or something?”
The silly part is, no one actually watches me write code. There’s no “wow factor” or whatever you want to call it. If you stop and think about it, the whole trigger word/Tab transformation scheme doesn’t even scale well– because every snippet you add requires you to remember a new trigger word. And if you try to export and share your snippets with someone else, they won’t have memorized your trigger words. It’s impractical.
But typing in “errorhandler”, hitting the Tab key, and suddenly seeing your text replaced with the method to invoke your organization’s error catching and logging object– that’s some Doctor Strange meets Jeffrey Zeldman in Area 51 kinda mojo right there. Using a category scheme with a dropdown UI to ultimately pick the “errorhandler” function from a displayed list of matching functions, just isn’t as satisfying.
I think the secret behind this feature’s irrational appeal is “It makes one feel like a wizard.” You type in the secret word, press the magic button, and (voila!) something cool happens. It creates an empowering feeling, and that’s a big piece of “locking people in” to your product. (Seriously, the fact that I’m even considering trying to recompile a plugin which hasn’t been updated in 6 years as a 64-bit DLL shows you how ridiculous this is.)
Your turn now. Tell me about your favorite “Makes me feel like a wizard” feature.