In recent years it has become possible to purchase a tape measure which, by default, stays out when you pull it out (unwind it against the little coil spring), and only goes back in again when you press the button. This is a vast improvement. For as many years as I can remember tape measures had to be pulled out and could then be locked out with a little button. This was very fiddly and the locking button would stop working after repeated use. Probably a little brake shoe wore out or something. So the modern tape measures are better in this regard.
Another improvement is that you can buy big tape measures. Why it took so long for someone to make the realisation that they were not restricted to the “standard size” tape measure I have no idea. The advantage of this is of course that you can use the tape measure for longer distances and there is another advantage and that is that because the tape is bigger and stronger then you can measure distances further into a gap, where you can’t easily reach in order to hold onto or place the free end of the tape.
My little bug-bear here is that tape measures could be larger still and a little more rigid so that you can more easily reach into less accesible areas such as when you are measuring up for floorboards in the eaves of an attic. So yes, what you want really is a big stiff one.
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