Scratchpad is a spatial text editor for the GNOME desktop.
It is based on gtksourceview, which provides most essential features for
source code editing. On top of this Scratchpad offers a lightweight, intuitive
and forward-thinking user interface as well as additional editing features to
make your life easier.


ScratchpadTag-based Replacing Screencast


Scratchpad strongly follows the “just works” philosophy and tries to
smoothly integerate into the desktop environment. It has been created
mainly out of dissatisfaction with existing GUI text editors and their
inability to scale. Some text editors are simple to use, but lack the
required features to work efficiently on larger projects. Other editors
are incredibly bloated and a pain to use if all you want is to make a quick
change to a README file. But the majority of the editors simply offers a bad
compromise between both worlds, being limited in their capabilities while still
sporting a rather clumsy interface.

Scratchpad intends to avoid any compromise and prove that a capable text editor
does not require a bloated user interface. To reach this goal, Scratchpad breaks
with many traditions, including file chooser dialogs and explicit saving.
Whenever possible, it tries to find solutions that do the right thing in
every situation by requiring the least amount of user intervention.

Scratchpad is not particularly customisable, which means that it won’t ever
offer a plethora of options which serve no purpose but to satisfy individual
taste or habits. Hopefully you will find that getting used to the way Scratchpad
works is well worth the effort. If you are not willing to do so, then
Scratchpad is just not for you.

Documents vs. Projects

To achieve the goal of scalability, Scratchpad separates between documents
and projects. Every document and every project is treated as a unique spatial

The document interface is used whenever you open a document from your
file manager (or by passing it as a command line argument) and is ideal to
make quick changes, read text documents or work on smaller projects. All
document state is persistent, so you can close and re-open a document at any
time without losing state. The document interface offers all of Scratchpad’s
text editing capabilities from an interface that is not any more complex than

The project interface (not yet completed) differs from the document interface
mainly by focusing on quick access to documents related to a project. New
sources can easily be added to the file tree on the left of the window.
Because all document state is persistent and there can be no “unsaved” changes,
there is no need to keep a separate list of “open” documents (popularly
implemented as notebook tabs). Scratchpad still uses MDI internally to
provide instant access to the last recently accessed documents. These documents
are also exposed on the interface and can be quickly selected with shortcuts,
thus combining the ease of use of an SDI interface with all the advantages
of an MDI interface.


I am not going to give you a comprehensive list of Scratchpad’s features, since
they are likely to change and Scratchpad is really more focused on the whole
user experience than individual technical details. Instead, I will use this
place to list all the little things that may not be completely obvious.

* If you activate the Cut or Copy command without a selection, it will act on
the entire line (same as the Block Cut/Copy commands). This makes it quick
and easy to delete or re-locate lines.

* The type-ahead search becomes case-sensitive as soon as you type a non
lower-case letter.

* In Go-to-line mode, you can use the up and down arrow keys to move up or
down in steps of ten. Hold shift to move in steps of 100.

* Word-wrap defaults to on for plain text files and off for everything else.
Once you change the wrap mode, it will be permantly stored for the document.

* To replace text, first add some tags (for example by pressing <shift><ctrl>F
to tag all matches of the last search) and then press <ctrl>R to enter the
text you want to replace with. You can add and remove as many tags as you want
before you replace and you can replace them as often as you want.
Use <shift><ctrl>T without a selection to clear all tags in a document.
Read all blog postings about Scratchpad


Scratchpad 0.3.0 (Source)
Changes since last version


New Features:
– Complete port/rewrite to Vala, Scratchpad now runs (flys) natively!
– Tag-based replace mechanism.
– Use GUniqueApp for single instance behaviour, so startup notification
and focus stealing should work better now.

Removed Features:
– No more GnomeVFS, waiting for GVFS!
– Revisions. Wasn’t happy with them, to be reconsidered.
– Autosave and save options. Now defaults to save on focus out (saving
your laptop batteries).
– Tools menu.

– It’s practically a rewrite, so all bugs should be brand new!
– Icon sucks less.

Known Problems:
– Font changes won’t take effect immediately.


There is a mailing list.

The SVN repository and issue tracker can be found on the Google project page.