The Actipro Blog

All the latest UI control development news from Actipro

Code Writer v3 Released

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We'd like to announce that the Windows 10 rewrite of Code Writer, our free text and code editor app for the Windows platform, is now available on the Windows Store for all Windows 10 users running Fall Creators Update or later.

Code Writer makes a perfect replacement for Notepad and other quick edit apps.

Reimagined Windows 10 Design

For the 3.0 version, we rebuilt the entire user interface of the app from scratch for Windows 10.  While our older v2.6 UI was great as a full screen Windows 8 app, v3.0 was made with windowed usage in mind, and delivers a much more modern interface that is a pleasure to work in.  It also makes heavy use of advanced UI features like acrylic and animations.

ExplorerSideBar

The new design still maintains a color bond with file types (as above where the C# file shows green in the status bar).

NewDocumentPopup

The list of currently-open documents is displayed in the Explorer side bar.  New documents can quickly be created there, and other existing documents can be opened.

CommandPalette

Another new concept in v3.0 is a command palette.  This popup allows you to quickly type a portion of a command you're looking for, and the list narrows as you type.  Press Enter to execute the selected command.

SideBarCollapsed

The app is minimalist in nature, and while it does feature a side bar, the side bar can be collapsed by pressing the unpin button.  This affords a distraction-free environment while you edit text/code.

Code Writer has find/replace functionality, print/share support, advanced editing commands, and a wide array of settings. 

Summary

If you have the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update or later, download Code Writer for free from the Windows Store today to check out v3.0 and all it has to offer.  The new redesign has been a labor of love that has been in development for many months.  We're very pleased to get it out into your hands as a showcase of what you can do with Actipro's Universal Windows Controls.  Enjoy!

Want to get the latest news about Code Writer?  Follow our @CodeWriterApp Twitter account.

Want to chat with us about Code Writer?  Please register to join our Slack workspace and join the #codewriter channel once added.

If you are a Universal Windows app developer, you can download a free evaluation of our Universal Windows Controls to use in your own apps.  Code Writer makes use of our SyntaxEditor, Docking/MDI, PropertyGrid, and Editors controls.  SyntaxEditor is of particular interest because it lets you add advanced code and text editing to your own apps.

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Filed under: Actipro, Apps, New features

Code Writer App Gets Its Own Twitter Feed

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Many of you are aware that we created a free text and code app named Code Writer that is found in the Windows Store.  It is an excellent tech demo of our commercial SyntaxEditor code editor control (available for all Microsoft UI platforms) and makes a great replacement for Notepad.

We're pleased to announce that we've just created a dedicated @CodeWriterApp Twitter account for the Code Writer app, making it easier to stay on top of the latest app news.

CodeWriterTwitter

Click the View button above to access the app's Twitter feed and be sure to Follow it!

About Code Writer

A bit of history about the app... Code Writer was one of the first high-quality Windows 8 apps in the Windows Store.  Its user interface was originally optimized and designed for full screen usage, making use of app bars, etc.  While the user interface is still clean and minimalistic, its current UI design needs rethinking for windowed usage in Windows 10. Even with a somewhat dated UI paradigm, the app is consistently rated well over 4 stars, which is a testament to the quality of the app.

We have started working on a revamped UI design for a future Windows 10 version and would love to discuss it with you, our users. Please register to join our Slack team and join the #codewriter channel once added so we can throw around ideas for Code Writer v3.0.

Filed under: Actipro, Apps

Code Writer v2.5 Released

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Code Writer v2.5, our free text/code editor app, is now published to the Windows Store.  Please note that the new version may take several hours to show up in the Store.

Are you interested in adding code or text editing abilities to your own Windows Store apps?  SyntaxEditor for Universal Windows allows you to build apps just like Code Writer.  Download a free evaluation to try it out.

Check out all the new features added to Code Writer…

Accessing App Settings

See the Summary section for info on our future plans to give the app a UI refresh designed for Windows 10.  In the meantime, we've made the app's Settings easier to access in Windows 10.  It can be done in two places:

Settings1

The first is from the hamburger menu on the upper left of the app window.

Settings2

The second is from the bottom app bar that shows when you press Windows+Z or click the status bar ellipses ("…") to show the app bars in the Editor screen.

Browse Picker

The Browse picker's 'All Files' file type filter can now open unregistered file types.  It comes up by default allowing *.* files to be opened.

BrowseDialog

If you drop down the file type filter, all file extensions are now sorted alphabetically.

Move Selected Lines Up/Down

MoveLinesUpDown

Alt+Up and Alt+Down can now be used to move the selected lines up and down.

New Font Options for Eastern Character Display

EasternFonts

New options for Eastern fonts are now available in the Editor settings flyout.

HTML Improvements

A HTML5 doctype is now added by default to the HTML, PHP, and ASP new document templates.

HTML auto-completion for void elements will no longer self-close certain tags like <br>.

Miscellaneous

Several other updates are included:

  • codewriter://close-all URL closes all open documents, losing any unsaved changes.  If you have a troublesome document that might be preventing the app from loading, try this command.
  • Print settings for syntax highlighting, line number margin, and whitespace are now saved.
  • Indentation guide contrast has been increased.
  • Fixed a bug where the Save As dialog didn't select the document's current file type by default.
  • Fixed a bug where the CSS file type wasn't syntax highlighting media queries correctly.

Summary and Future Windows 10 Plans

This update adds several features that have been requested by our users.  It will likely be the last version released for Windows 8.1.  Now that our Universal Windows Controls are released, our goal is to get Code Writer upgraded to the Universal platform and give it a UI refresh that is better designed for windowed usage.

Have any suggestions for a refreshed Windows 10 UI?  Now is the time to post them in the app's discussion forum.

You can also download a free evaluation of our SyntaxEditor control for Universal Windows, which lets you add advanced code and text editing to your own Windows Store apps.

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Filed under: Actipro, Apps, New features

Code Writer v2.4 Released

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Code Writer v2.4, our free text/code editor app, is now live in the Windows Store.

Are you interested in adding code or text editing abilities to your own Windows Store apps?  SyntaxEditor for WinRT/XAML allows you to build apps just like Code Writer.  Download a free evaluation to try it out.

Check out all the new features added to Code Writer…

Quote Delimiter Auto-Completion

Quote delimiter auto-completion has been added for most file types.

QuoteAutoCompletion

In the screenshot above where a JSON file is being edited, I've typed a quote character to start a string and its end quote was auto-completed.

Text Share Target

Code Writer is now a text share target, meaning that any other Windows Store app can share text to it.  For instance, if I open up the "My first note" note in OneNote and use the Share Charm, I see Code Writer listed:

ShareText

By tapping the Code Writer item in that list, it opens another flyout where the text that will be sent to Code Writer can be previewed.  Simply tap the "Create a Document" button and a new document will be opened in Code Writer that contains the sent text.

File Share Target

Code Writer is also a share target for all of the default file type extensions. For instance, if you have OneDrive open and select a file, you can open the Sharm charm and Code Writer will be listed as a share target.

Tap on Code Writer and a flyout will open that displays the files being shared.  Press the Open File button and the file will be opened in Code Writer.

Multiple files can be opened at a time too!

Improved Character Encoding and International Support

We've added a special new character encoding option that can be found in the Editor Settings flyout for using UTF-8 without a signature.

Utf8NoSignature

When opening non-Unicode files, the default character encoding specified in Editor Settings is now used as appropriate.

We've also improved international support with better caret/selection movement and delete and backspace functionality around multi-byte Unicode characters.

Summary

This update adds several features that have been highly requested by our users, and we're excited to get it into your hands.

You can also download a free evaluation of our SyntaxEditor control for WinRT/XAML, which lets you add advanced code and text editing to your own Windows Store apps.

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Filed under: Actipro, Apps, New features

Code Writer v2.3 Released

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Code Writer v2.3, our free text/code editor app, is now live in the Windows Store.

Are you interested in adding code or text editing abilities to your own Windows Store apps?  SyntaxEditor for WinRT/XAML was recently released, allowing you to build apps just like Code Writer.  Download a free evaluation to try it out.

Check out all the new features added to Code Writer…

Mouse Context Menus

Mouse users have been asking for context menus to be added to the editor so that they can quickly access clipboard and undo functionality without having to use keyboard shortcuts.  This version delivers that functionality.  Now when you right-click over the editor surface, a context menu will be displayed:

ContextMenu

This begs the question, how do you access the app bars that used to display on right-click?  There are several ways to show them:

  • Mouse right-click at top/bottom of the screen.
  • Left-click the status bar on the lower left, where the ellipses show (see screenshot below).
  • Press the Windows+Z keyboard shortcut.

StatusBar

And if you'd like to restore the old functionality where mouse right-click always showed the app bars?  We've got you covered there too!

ContextMenuSetting

A new option on the Editor page in Settings lets you determine whether context menus are enabled for right-click or not.

JSON File Type Added

JSON is a very popular data serialization format that is widely used in web technologies these days.  We just finished work on a new JSON syntax language for our SyntaxEditor control, and have added a new JSON file type option to Code Writer as well.

JSON

The new file type has everything from syntax highlighting to code outlining and even syntax error squiggles.  This makes Code Writer an ideal app to view/edit JSON files.

JavaScript Completion Lists

Completion lists have been added to the JavaScript file type.  The completion lists work similarly to other popular editors where all the identifier symbols that are located in the current document are presented in a list in response to Ctrl+Space being pressed.

JavaScriptCompletion

As you type, the list filters down to only show matching items.  This makes entering identifiers much faster since you can easily auto-complete instances of already-inserted identifier names.

Keywords are also included in the completion lists.

Per-Document Character Encoding Option

In past versions, you could set an option in Settings that would affect the character encoding used for all documents.  In this update, we have changed that setting so that it only affects new and opened documents.  From that point on, each document tracks its own character encoding setting, which can be altered from the Document Properties pane:

DocumentProperties

This allows for different documents to be saved in different character encodings.

Miscellaneous

Numerous miscellaneous improvements have also been made:

  • Improved delimiter auto-completion logic.
  • Block indent mode retains whitespace after the caret when Enter is pressed.
  • General settings option for analytics (error/anonymous usage stats) reporting.
  • .log and .srt files open with text file type.
  • .ass and .ssa files open with INI file type.
  • Fixed bug where documents saved with char encodings may not completely clear old file contents.

Summary

This update adds several features that have been highly requested by our users, and we're excited to get it into your hands.

You can also download a free evaluation of our SyntaxEditor control for WinRT/XAML, which lets you add advanced code and text editing to your own Windows Store apps.

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Filed under: Actipro, Apps, New features

Code Writer v2.2 Released

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Code Writer v2.2, our free text/code editor app, is now live in the Windows Store.  This version focuses on adding major new find/replace-related features. 

Are you interested in adding code or text editing abilities to your own Windows Store apps?  SyntaxEditor for WinRT/XAML was recently released, allowing you to build apps just like Code Writer.  Download a free evaluation to try it out.

Check out all the new features added to Code Writer…

New Find/Replace Pane Search Options

The Find/Replace Pane now includes search options for match case, whole word, and use regular expressions.

FindReplace1

The buttons to toggle them only appear when the pane is fully-expanded.  When collapsed, it will look like this:

FindReplace2

The selected options appear in subtle small text below the Find What field.  If no options are selected, that entire text row disappears so no screen space is wasted.

Regular Expression Insertion Options

Drop-downs with insertion options for find/replace fields appear when in regular expression mode.

FindReplace3
In the screenshot above, the Find What field's drop-down button is clicked, displaying a popup menu of available regex syntax options.

Incremental Search

Incremental search is a way for the end user to quickly search for text in a document without needing to interact with search dialogs or panes.  With a couple keyboard strokes, the end user can instantly start searching for text.

Ctrl+I enters the new incremental search mode, which is a feature that allows for fast text searching via the keyboard. Ctrl+Shift+I searches backward.  See this previous blog post on how incremental search works.

Search Match Highlights

An editor settings option has been added for the new search match highlights feature.

FindReplace4

Search matches are highlighted in the editor, even as you change search options in the Find/Replace Pane.  In the screenshot above, we have searched for the text "using", and all instances of it are automatically highlighted.

Find Next Instance of Selected Text

Ctrl+F3 will find the next instance of the currently-selected text.

Improved Delimiter Auto-Completion

Delimiter auto-completion logic is now a lot smarter as detailed in this blog post.

Miscellaneous

Numerous miscellaneous improvements have also been made:

  • Improved logic to prevent opening multiple instances of the same document.
  • Improved PHP syntax highlighting.
  • Documentation on touch interaction in the Editor screen.
  • Fixed issue with touch-based scrolling working in certain scenarios.
  • Fixed where Ctrl+Tab was cycling two documents forward instead of one.
  • Fixed unsaved documents showing empty tab tooltips.

Summary

This update significantly improves the searching features of Code Writer and we highly recommend that you upgrade to it.

You can also download a free evaluation of our SyntaxEditor control for WinRT/XAML, which lets you add advanced code and text editing to your own Windows Store apps.

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Filed under: Actipro, Apps, New features

Code Writer v2.1 Released

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Code Writer v2.1, our free text/code editor app, is now live in the Windows Store.  This version focuses on adding full support for new features in Windows 8.1, along with adding some other great updates as well. 

Are you interested in adding code or text editing abilities to your own Windows Store apps?  SyntaxEditor for WinRT/XAML was just released, allowing you to build apps just like Code Writer.  Download a free evaluation to try it out.

Check out all the new features added to Code Writer…

Editing Multiple Lines of Text

We just posted an in-depth blog entry on updates coming to SyntaxEditor that allow for multi-line editing via block selections.  These features just launched in the WinRT/XAML version of SyntaxEditor and are part of today's Code Writer release as well.

MultiLineEditing

In this screenshot, you can see how a block selection spans multiple lines (it's a selection line after the s in lines on each line) and as I type, the characters appear on each line.  Tab (indent), Shift+Tab (outdent), Del (delete next character), Backspace (delete previous character), Shift+Del (delete to next word start), and Shift+Backspace (delete to previous word start) also work.

Windows 8.1 App Resizing Support

Windows 8.1 allows apps to resize to various small widths, not just the former "snapped" mode width from Windows 8.0.  In previous Code Writer versions, the app bars and Advanced Editing gallery were disabled in snapped mode.

CodeWriterSnapped

In the new Code Writer version, the app properly resizes itself and still allows full access to app bars and the gallery.  See the screenshot above for an example showing how the app bar buttons collapsed down to a compact size, which still providing app functionality.

Tappable App Bar Hints

To help aid in making app bars on various app screens more discoverable, we have added app bar hints to all screens that contain app bars.  We've used the standard ellipses indicators and have made them as unobtrusive as possible.

AppBarHint1

Here we see the main Editor screen.  Tapping the statusbar area will show the app bar.

AppBarHint2

Here we see the bottom right of the Add Document screen.  Tapping the app bar hint will show the app bar.

Large Live Tile Support

Our live tile implementation tells you all the open documents and whether they have been saved or not.  We have added support for the new large live tile size in Windows 8.1.

LargeLiveTile

Take a look at this previous blog post that provides more detail on how the live tile works.  The new large live tile is capable of displaying up to 18 open document names.

Miscellaneous

Numerous miscellaneous improvements have also been made:

  • Improved image for Windows 8.1 small tile size.
  • codewriter://reset-settings URL restores app settings defaults.
  • Improved the syntax highlighting of PHP code in HTML attributes.
  • Improved all icons to render crisper.
  • Improved the editor's touch-based selection gripper hit testing.
  • Improved the validation of custom file extensions in Settings.

Summary

Be sure to grab this latest update if you have Windows 8.1.  Or if you haven't tried Code Writer yet, go to the Windows Store to download it, and help us by tweeting about the app!

You can also download a free evaluation of our SyntaxEditor control for WinRT/XAML, which lets you add advanced code and text editing to your own Windows Store apps.

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Filed under: Actipro, New features, Apps

Code Writer App Transitioning to Windows 8.1

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We've been anxious to get our hands on Windows 8.1 and were finally able to after Microsoft released the RTM to developers earlier this week!

We've been working on updating our Windows 8 controls and apps to target Windows 8.1.  These updates will be part of the 2013.2 version of our WinRT XAML UI controls.  That version will also be the first to include our syntax highlighting code editor control named SyntaxEditor, which is designed for use in Windows Store apps!

Our SyntaxEditor control is the same core editor used in our free text/code editing app named "Code Writer".

Improving Code Writer App Size Support

One feature we completed today for Code Writer is to have full support of Windows 8.1's new window sizes.  The current Code Writer version on the Store does support "snapped" mode, but while in that mode, app bars and the Advanced Editing gallery are disabled.

CodeWriterSnapped

In the new code updates we made for Windows 8.1, the app properly resizes itself and still allows full access to app bars and the gallery.  See the screenshot above for an example showing how the app bar buttons collapsed down to a compact size, which still providing app functionality.

Summary

The updates above will be published to the Windows Store once Windows 8.1 is publicly released next month.

Go to the Windows Store to download Code Writer, and help us by tweeting about the app!

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Filed under: Actipro, In development, Apps

Code Writer v2.0 Released

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Code Writer v2.0 is now live in the Windows Store.  This version has some very massive improvements.  Check out all the new features added to our free text/code editor app…

Informative Live Tile

In the past, Code Writer had a plain tile, which is still the case when no documents are open.

LiveTile1

For version 2.0 we wanted to make the live tile really useful.  Now the live tile will list the documents you have open:

LiveTile2

In this screenshot, there are five documents open, sorted by the order in which they were last accessed.  A checked box means that the document is unmodified.  An unchecked box means that the document has pending changes that need to be saved.  Also, as in previous versions, the number at the bottom right corner indicates the total number of unsaved documents that are open.

The tile is also very intelligent and updates its display based on how big it is and how many documents are open.  If in the above screenshot only four documents were open, it would switch back to a single column display mode so that longer filenames could be visible.

LiveTile3

In this screenshot, we've switched to a smaller tile.  Since there are five documents open, not all of them can be listed on the four available lines.  Thus we show the last three that were accessed, along with a "+ 2 more" to let you know that you have five total documents open.

With all this information, you have a heads-up display right on your Windows start screen about what you're working on in the app.  We love this new feature!

Document Print Support

End users have asked for printing support and we've delivered it in v2.0.  You can print a document by opening the Windows 8 Devices charm or simply by pressing Ctrl+P.

Printing

Once a printer is selected, a flyout will display that shows a preview of what will be printed.  Numerous options are also available, such as the ability to turn off syntax highlighting, show/hide line numbers, or show/hide whitespace markers.

Since Windows 8 allows you to print to an XPS Document Writer, you can print right to an .OXPS file (similar to a PDF) and send it to other colleagues or review it later on other machines.

Block Auto-Indent

Block auto-indent has been added, which kicks in when Enter is pressed within a curly brace pair for the C, C++, C#, CSS, Java, JavaScript, Lua, Perl, PHP, PowerShell, Python, and Ruby file types.

image(40)

With the caret in between the curly braces in this JavaScript code, Enter is pressed.

image(41)

The result is that the text after the caret moves two lines down and the caret indents on the middle line.  This really helps typing efficiency.  For some more detail, see the related SyntaxEditor post.

Nested CSS and JavaScript Editing Improvements

Block auto-indent, delimiter highlighting, and delimiter auto-complete have been added to CSS and JavaScript sections that are nested in HTML, ASP, ASP.NET, and PHP file types.

Twilight Background Theme

The Add Document, Help, and Release History screens have always been rather spartan:

DocumentAddPlain

This look remains the default when you first start Code Writer.  While this is great and adheres to the Metro principles, we wanted to spruce things up by adding a new optional Twilight theme:

AddDocumentTwilight

The twilight theme still keeps focus on the content as every good Windows Store app should, however it renders a night sky with a star field at the top, and multiple cloud layers at the bottom.  Best of all, if you scroll the screen, you'll encounter parallax scrolling of the theme's elements.

The Twilight background theme option can be activated on the General flyout via the app's Settings charm.

Improved Copy and Share

Past versions of Code Writer supported clipboard copy and sharing via the Windows Share charm.  In v2.0, we improved these areas further.

Share

Here we see the Share charm flyout, where I've shared the document I'm editing.  Notice how now the text that is added to the message is fully syntax highlighted and line breaks are passed correctly, both of which are part of the v2.0 improvements.

Copying text to the clipboard and pasting in other apps such as OneNote will also retain syntax highlighting.

Code Writer is smart in that if you have a dark editor theme active, all the syntax highlighting used for sharing and copying will be done in the light background theme so that it shows up properly in other apps.

Protocol Activation

This version adds protocol activation support.  This means that you can enter codewriter:// in your browser to open Code Writer.

Commands can also be passed to Code Writer:

  • codewriter://add - Opens the Add Document screen.
  • codewriter://help - Opens the Help screen.
  • codewriter://open?path=c:\document.txt - Opens the document at local path "c:\document.txt".  Note that due to Window Store app security, the file will not be accessible unless you have previously opened the document in Code Writer using the Browse dialog.

All of the protocol-based commands listed above can be easily executed from PowerShell by using the Start-Process cmdlet. This example shows how to open a local file (be aware of security notes above):

  • Start-Process "codewriter://open?path=c:\document.txt"

Tutorial Overlays

In past versions, Code Writer would display a mostly textual introduction screen the first time you used it.  We never really liked that concept and wanted a more visual tutorial.  In v2.0, when you first visit the Add Document and Editor screens, you are now presented with a single page tutorial overlay that gives some quick tips on how to use the page.

Tutorial

The screenshot above shows the Add Document screen tutorial.

Miscellaneous

Numerous miscellaneous improvements have also been made:

  • The mouse back button now simulates clicks on page back buttons.
  • A Help button to access app documentation has been added to the Add Document screen's app bar.
  • Minor user interface improvements have been made such as subtle outlines to the Add Document screen's items.
  • Updated document save code to reduce memory usage for large documents.
  • Fixed a bug where JavaScript sections in HTML weren't being syntax highlighted.

Summary

As you can see, this release adds a ton of great new features.  Be sure to grab it.

Go to the Windows Store to download Code Writer, and help us by tweeting about the app!

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Filed under: Actipro, Apps, New features

Code Writer v1.9 Released

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We just published v1.9 of Code Writer, our free text/code editor app, to the Windows Store.  Here's what's new…

End Tag Auto-Complete

Users have been asking for HTML end tag auto-complete for a while now.  Previous versions of Code Writer already had it for XML and XAML.  In this version, we've also added the feature to the HTML, PHP, ASP.NET and ASP file types!  Let's see it in action…

EndTag1

In the screenshot above, I've started typing a div tag on line 42.  Next I'll type a > character:

EndTag2

The end tag is automatically inserted and the caret remains where it should be.

Indentation Guides

Indentation guides are subtle vertical lines that render at each tab stop on lines prior to the first non-whitespace character.  They help visually align the indentation of visible code blocks.  You can see the indentation guide lines in the screenshots above.

Whitespace-only lines are intelligent and render indentation guides based on the tab stop level of surrounding text.

Indentation guides are disabled by default but can be enabled in the Editor Settings.

Miscellaneous

We also fixed a couple bugs found in the new delimiter auto-complete and word wrap features.

Summary

This new version comes right on the heels of v1.8, which added advanced JavaScript editing, word wrap, and delimiter auto-completion.  We're happy to deliver more commonly-requested features.

Go to the Windows Store to download Code Writer, and help us by tweeting about the app!

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Filed under: Actipro, Apps, New features