Friday, January 21, 2011

"Return"? To what?

It's funny how old terminology lives on. For example I enter some text in a Search field on my iPad, and then I can click the Return button to activate it. And somebody born after 1980 might well be excused for thinking "return?... return to what? The previous page? The previous app?" They may never have seen a typewriter, with a lever which Returned the paper carriage to the start of a new line.

For that matter, on bigger computers there is often a Return and an Enter key, and they often do the same thing. But then: sometimes not. Huh.

(I'm sure I'll be enlightened and corrected with technical details about this, thanks beforehand guys.      :-)

11 comments:

revilit said...

"...sometimes not."

Glad to see you are covering your arse these days. Research is the death of certainty.

http://goo.gl/XQCSa

Different codes are returned by the different keys, although as you suggest they are frequently used for the same purpose. However, here is a familiar everyday example that will be familiar to you as a Photoshop power user:

"....while using the text tool in Adobe Photoshop, the return key produces a new line while the enter key ends editing mode."

eolake said...

Actually in this case I was not just waffling, I was illustrating that computers are confusing because a user can have reason to believe that the two keys are interchangeable, but then suddenly they aren't.

Kentg said...

I all goes back at least to the old ASR teletype and the typewriter.
LF, line feed (octal code 012) now Return (not on my keyboard).
CR, carriage return (octal code 015) now Enter.
Many conventions hark back to the beginning of computing. As an old time programmer I see it all the time. Actually in programming text if you don't want to overwrite a line, you have to add a CR and LF at the end of each line of text. History unlocks many mysteries.

Kentg said...

Forgot to add:
Keyboard (ASCII) codes: http://www.asciitable.com/
Many of the codes only apply to the time when teletypes were connected together before computers.
Aside, look at the table and try to imagine alphabetizing or sorting a list using the codes!
Somebody will probably remark that the ASR teletype only used caps. Using one was fun at only 10 characters per second and my only printer. No wonder we used so many acronyms.

eolake said...

Thanks, Kent.

It's clear there's confusion on the point, just because there are various ways of removing "hard returns" when I get text received on my Mac, and sometimes they work, but sometimes they remove all the paragraphs also. (I use an text app called TexEdit Plus, which I've used since the nineties!)

eolake said...

http://www.tex-edit.com/

It got confusing when Apple renamed Simple Text to TextEdit a decade ago.

Kentg said...

Yea, Different operating systems handle the end of a text line differently. Unix/Linux, Apple, and MS all do it differently. I think Apple and Unix/Linux do it in a similar way. MS always had to go their own way. I've forgotten the exact differences and and would have to look them up.

ttl said...

Return to reality, sonny.

[ The above line is from Moses Pendelton. I've been waiting for 30 years for an opportunity use it. ]

Alex said...

In the early 90's I was programming for Mac, PC, and Acorn. I was also Unix aware.

I remember one used , another used and the third used or . All very confusing. I'm also a hex guy, so 0x0a and 0x0d mean more to me than the octal.

To sort by alpha, the trick is just to run a to upper or lo lower on everything you want to sort.

Most type writers I encountered the bar would advance the lines before returning the carrier, and you could do mulitple line feeds before, or after the carriage return.

Hard returns are evil, they really mess up any editing you want to do. Doesn't word have an end para token/concept rather than a carriage return or line feed.

And a further note, I see some or the low end no bank ATMs still seem to be using a VT100/TTY style interface, so many of the ASCII codes may not be as dead as you think. Surely I'm not the only one who still implements peer to peer comms freaming things with an SOT and EOT and STX ETX.

eolake said...

Cool.
Returning to reality is my ultimate goal.

eolake said...

Yes, you still see web sites with hard returns in the text, so they only work with certain text sizes.