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You are here: MacNN Forums > Software - Troubleshooting and Discussion > macOS > Rant: Why does OS X not consider minus part of number?

Rant: Why does OS X not consider minus part of number?
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Simon
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Jun 2, 2009, 07:38 AM
 
Something that's been bugging the hell out of me lately is when I double-click on any number in OS X the number gets selected but not the sign. So even if there is no space between the minus and the number, only the number gets selected. What's the logic behind that?
     
richwig83
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Jun 2, 2009, 08:10 AM
 
Not sure what the logic is but you're not alone!
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turtle777
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Jun 2, 2009, 09:23 AM
 
Sounds like a stupid bug.

Did you report it to Apple ?

-t
     
Simon  (op)
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Jun 2, 2009, 10:27 AM
 
Unless somebody comes up with some very good reasoning, I will.

But it's definitely not a new bug. It's in both Leopard and Tiger. It's as if Apple actually had a reason for this behavior...
     
P
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Jun 2, 2009, 11:50 AM
 
Windows does the same thing. Most likely it's reading the - as a hyphen. If it is a hyphen, it's doing the right thing. Of course one might argue that Apple could put in some more complicated logic there - including the minus/hyphen as part of the word if the word is only numbers - but OTOH it's a fairly minor thing to break symmetry over.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
Simon  (op)
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Jun 2, 2009, 03:24 PM
 
I try to stay away from Windows as good as I can. But the one editor I do actually use in Windows selects the sign with the number. Of course it also selects any proceeding comma as well so it's not perfect either.

RH and Scientific Linux OTOH have always done this properly. I don't see why OS X shouldn't be able to do it right.
     
Chuckit
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Jun 2, 2009, 04:09 PM
 
1-2=-1

How many words was that?
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richwig83
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Jun 2, 2009, 07:47 PM
 
Originally Posted by chuckit View Post
1-2=-1

how many words was that?
6
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Simon  (op)
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Jun 3, 2009, 03:31 AM
 
Originally Posted by littlejj22 View Post
I have no idea of it.
So why post?
     
CharlesS
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Jun 3, 2009, 11:54 AM
 
^ My guess is that it was to distract from his being a spammer, judging by the fact that all posts by that user seem to have been deleted.

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Simon  (op)
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Jun 3, 2009, 04:35 PM
 
Yep. Another one gone.
     
HazardousPaste
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Jun 4, 2009, 02:25 AM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
Windows does the same thing. Most likely it's reading the - as a hyphen. If it is a hyphen, it's doing the right thing. Of course one might argue that Apple could put in some more complicated logic there - including the minus/hyphen as part of the word if the word is only numbers - but OTOH it's a fairly minor thing to break symmetry over.
Even that wouldn't work. What if you format the date as
2009-6-4 ?
No reason that should get read as "1999."
     
besson3c
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Jun 4, 2009, 03:49 AM
 
I have no idea of it either.
     
dimmer
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Jun 7, 2009, 11:50 PM
 
Because it's not part of the number. Solution? Add one more click and the negative sign is included.
     
Simon  (op)
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Jun 8, 2009, 05:21 AM
 
As somebody who majored in mathematics I can assure you that the sign belongs to the number.

The solution is Apple changes the selection behavior for numbers to the way it's done in Linux or Solaris. Or at the very least, offer an option for this kind of behavior. Anybody in science or engineering will appreciate it.
     
turtle777
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Jun 8, 2009, 09:10 AM
 
Originally Posted by HazardousPaste View Post
Even that wouldn't work. What if you format the date as
2009-6-4 ?
No reason that should get read as "1999."
Why would the OS not recognize this as a date, given you set up this date format in the system preferences ?

Obviously, if your system is set up to display dates like 06/04/2009, then 2009-6-4 wouldn't get recognized as a date.

That would be expecting too much from the OS, since dates formats can be quite different from each other. Also, 6/4 could refer to a date, or a fraction. You can't expect the system to know.

-t
     
patrix
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Jun 8, 2009, 10:30 AM
 
Has nothing to do with minus, and everything to do with symbols.

#324235
+345345
-23545

Those will all select the number and not the symbol. Personnally I find it very convenient, as I often have to copy/paste numbers that have a # in front of them, and it's that much faster if I can just doubleclick without worrying about the # to be included as well.

I guess it's the opposite of everyone who's answered so far lol.
     
TETENAL
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Jun 8, 2009, 11:03 AM
 
1½-click (ie. double-click and don't release the mouse-button), then drag a little bit to the left to include the minus.
     
turtle777
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Jun 8, 2009, 12:20 PM
 
Originally Posted by TETENAL View Post
1½-click (ie. double-click and don't release the mouse-button), then drag a little bit to the left to include the minus.
FTW.

-t
     
dimmer
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Jun 13, 2009, 01:37 AM
 
"offer an option"

You are kidding right? How many System Preferences icons would you like? A zillion? "Options" make for a bad UI, and should be limited as much as possible. And, no, the hyphen is not part of the number, from a text point of view. Click one more time, get over your bad self.
     
Simon  (op)
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Jun 13, 2009, 06:12 AM
 
I take it you missed the 2001 memo about defaults write.
     
dimmer
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Jun 13, 2009, 02:51 PM
 
The "No-one writes to the kernal" one?
     
Simon  (op)
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Jun 13, 2009, 02:54 PM
 
Kernal?
     
dimmer
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Jun 13, 2009, 03:06 PM
 
Kernel in Dutch I guess! But for the joke/reference to work, kernal is better.
     
Eug
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Jun 13, 2009, 03:08 PM
 
Actually, not selecting the "-" is the way I like it, but...

Originally Posted by dimmer View Post
Click one more time, get over your bad self.
That doesn't work. If you click again, you get the entire line. Try it and see:

Lorem greek +9870 chinese -23432 nitpicky thread.
     
dimmer
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Jun 13, 2009, 03:15 PM
 
From Wiki:

"The KERNAL was known as kernel[1] inside of Commodore since the PET days, but in 1980 Robert Russell misspelled the word in his notebooks forming the word kernal. When Commodore technical writers Neil Harris and Andy Finkel collected Russell's notes and used them as the basis for the VIC-20 programmer's manual, the misspelling followed them along and stuck.[2]"

Eug: I sit corrected. While the behavior is consistent with TextEdit guidelines (one click: insert insertion point, two clicks select "word", three clicks select "sentence") I can see that it may be annoying. For example, if I get a phone number (333)-555-1223, should the double click select the whole thing or just the "word"? Didn't Apple Data Detectors use to be able to figure this out?

I still think a preference for the operation would be highly bad though,
     
Eug
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Jun 13, 2009, 03:33 PM
 
Originally Posted by dimmer View Post
For example, if I get a phone number (333)-555-1223, should the double click select the whole thing or just the "word"? Didn't Apple Data Detectors use to be able to figure this out?
That's actually sort of how it works on the iPhone, and it's even smarter than that.



     
TETENAL
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Jun 13, 2009, 03:38 PM
 
Originally Posted by dimmer View Post
From Wiki:
For example, if I get a phone number (333)-555-1223, should the double click select the whole thing or just the "word"?
It's possible to select this phone number as well as numbers with signs with just two clicks.

Mail, by the way, already detects phone numbers automatically.
( Last edited by TETENAL; Jun 13, 2009 at 03:46 PM. )
     
chabig
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Jun 15, 2009, 10:05 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
As somebody who majored in mathematics I can assure you that the sign belongs to the number.
Sure, the sign belongs to a negative number. But what if it's a minus sign (the operator) and a positive number?
     
Simon  (op)
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Jun 16, 2009, 02:52 AM
 
I haven't even mentioned (complex) expressions yet, just numbers. Let's fix the simple stuff first.

I have a column of numbers. Some with a plus, some with a minus, some with no sign. Nothing else. The fact that OS X can't do this right (like Windows) is pathetic. Linux OTOH has absolutely no problems. I have trouble imagining the message Apple wants to put out to scientists is that they should use Linux to edit data files.
     
P
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Jun 16, 2009, 03:46 AM
 
Have you reported it in the feedback box? This is the type of thing they might actually fix - they did add sorting by numbers to OS X, after all.

Having thought about it a bit, I think that "-" should not be considered a separator at all and should always be included in the word when doubleclicking. If you have to select half of a hyphenated word you can do so by dragging - wanting to select the entire date or number has to be a much more common occurrence.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
Simon  (op)
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Jun 16, 2009, 03:48 AM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
Have you reported it in the feedback box? This is the type of thing they might actually fix - they did add sorting by numbers to OS X, after all.
Yep. I've reported it. But it hasn't been fixed in the 10.5.x updates since. Don't know about SL though.
     
   
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