How we handle dates

Posted by Jon Knowles , 01/10/1999, 17:51:08 Reply   Forum

Our approach to developing the Abbreviation Master files is to use shortcut keys in an integrated way. This means taking advantage of the ergonomics of the QWERTY keyboard. For example, home keys are best to type on, the Qwerty and Zxcvbn rows less desirable, and the numbers row even less desirable. Also, you want to spread out your shortcuts as much as possible, not overload certain letters (more on this below).

It is useful, whether with Instant Text or other expanders, to assign an introductory letter to trigger a set of short forms. When I used PRD, for example, I used to type all meds in the form 8med, so 8asp was aspirin, 8pen was penicillin, etc. With Instant Text you cannot begin a short form with a number (IT will put in an "n" if you import a list which has entries beginning with numbers), so it is both natural and necessary to use an introductory letter for shortcut sets.

One of the files we put together is for typing dates. On some accounts, for example, I have a lot of hyphenated dates to type. That can slow me down quite a bit - the hyphen key is "far away" and the right fourth finger and small finger aren't the most nimble if you have to type the hyphen plus the zero a lot. So Mike and I decided to put together a file for hyphenated dates and the two other most common formats - written out dates (February 2, 1999) and dates with a slash (02/02/99). The idea is to minimize right hand use on the top row and to use as few keystrokes as possible to get the dates.

For this particular file we use an introductory letter ("k") for the hyphenated and slashed dates. We could have used "d" but we had already used "d" in our Dates glossary (a share glossary soon to be available on the IT site), and there are also dates for "December". This is in keeping with our plan to space out the introductory letters. So we used a home key which is also a rare letter - "k".

As examples:
k22 = 02-02-99 or
k22= 02/02/99

k827 = 08-27-99 or 08-27-98

It is unlikely that one needs both formats, so you can load either the Year1999 hyphenated file or the Year1999 slashed file and "k22" will get you the date needed in the format desired. If you do need both formats, you can load both glossaries and just hit Shift to move the cursor down to highlight the entry in the second format.

For the full form, "February 2, 1999" we use abbreviations for the month based on the first letter(s) of the month. So f2 (not the function key F2 but the letter "f" + number 2) gives "February 2, 1999". We used j,f,ma,a,m,ju,jy,au,s,o,n,d to begin each month when typing the full form. (If someone wants to use the file but change a month's abbreviation, they can edit the file in WP or Word or with WordPad, or we can do it for you.)

Perhaps you may want to add the Year1998 file as well, so when you hit "f2" you will get:

February 2, 1999
February 2, 1998

To get the 1998 date, you hit Shift to move the cursor down, and you still can access both dates pretty quickly. If you want other years - February 2, 1997, 1996, etc. - you have two choices. You can either add files for those years (we can customize them if you want), or you can just type "f2", then correct the last digit of the year. This is the method I am using now. One reason is that I don't want to clutter up my glossaries/hard disc with every possible year. The main dates I type are in 1998 and now 1999, so I'm sticking with those two files.


P.S. As Mike is very busy right now, I'll be doing most/all of the discussion about our "shop files" for a while.
Related link: Mike and Jon's File Shop

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