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Friday, March 8, 2013

Fixing Doogie's user interface issue

I had a friend who used to watch Doogie Howser, M.D. back when it was still on the air. He seemed to like the show just fine, but he would always get bent out of shape by the "diary" sessions. Apparently, they'd show him entering something with letters appearing on the screen, but there would be no cursor. The usual solid or flashing block or underline was nowhere to be seen. This must have really bothered him, since he mentioned it on multiple occasions.

I figured it was just a TV show and didn't think much of it. However, a comment regarding my in-browser terminal session stuff got me thinking about it again. It had no cursor, and watching it, you can definitely sense something is missing. So, in order to set things straight, I dug into the term.js code and figured out how to get it working.

There is now a nice little underline cursor which scoots around the virtual terminal, following my every move. You can see where I decided to cursor up to a line and then backed out of it and went back to another location. All of it is faithfully reproduced right in your browser.

I also fulfilled some other feature requests from this same anonymous individual. In addition to the existing "back up" and "forward" buttons which moved you 10 positions in the playback stream, there are now single step buttons for both directions. If you really, really want to see every little keystroke and nuance, now you can.

Finally, I added some more feedback on how far you are in a session. The counter now appears next to a total so you can tell where you are out of the entire stream. Right below it, there's now a time counter showing how much real time had elapsed from the beginning of the session where you are now, and next to it, the total time for the entire session.

I hope this makes for a nicer experience for everyone.