Editor [was: Re: DR-DOS]

Liam Proven lproven at gmail.com
Thu Nov 23 17:53:42 CST 2017

On 23 November 2017 at 21:01, Tomasz Rola <rtomek at ceti.pl> wrote:
> On Thu, Nov 23, 2017 at 06:53:18PM +0100, Liam Proven via cctalk wrote:
> [...]
>> But only someone who thinks that Emacs or Vi are usable editors could
>> think this was an appealing virtualisation solution.
> Oh my, I know you are not offensive and I think flame over editors is
> really stupid thing to do, but whenever I read I could do something
> better, yet without hint how to change for the better, it is an itch
> to scratch for me. So, with half of my tongue in a cheek, which
> editors should I choose from - sed, ed, cat, joe, dd?

I am wondering if I can cut-n-paste my response from somewhere but the
last time I had this argument, it was at work, on work systems, and I
shouldn't do that.

Some of it is here:


And a sequel here which answers your direct question:


Currently, I use Tilde.


Basically, when I started out, I learned the Sinclair ZX series ROM
editor, then the improved one in Beta BASIC, then the full-screen one
on the Spectrum 128. I even bought the numeric keypad, which is
super-rare. I did a lot of word-processing of essays on it, in The
Last Word, an obscure word processor app.

Then I went to university and learned some VMS and Fortran. I probably
used VMS EDT.

Then I got an Amstrad PCW and learned CP/M and some of the horrible
old CP/M editors, the passable RPED and LocoScript.

Then I started working, and learned Edlin, then the DR-DOS 5 editor,
then the slightly better MS-DOS 5 EDIT.

I also learned the Novell Netware editor, and Xenix vi.

I worked with and supported WordStar, NewWord, WordStar Express
(totally different!), WordStar 2000 (different again), WordPerfect,
MultiMate, DisplayWrite, MS Word 3 and 4 for DOS, Samna Executive and

All had totally different UIs. All were to some degree horrid. My
least-disliked was MS Word for DOS.

MS Word 5 switched the weird old MS UI for a CUA one of text-based
menus. I learned that and liked it.

I also worked on Macs and knew WriteNow, MacWrite, MS Word for Mac,
TeachText, SimpleText, and others. Some a bit weird but all much
better than on DOS!

Then came Windows and NOTEPAD.EXE.

Basically, after Windows, all editors were CUA. Menu bar at the top,
Ctrl-O to open, Ctrl-P to print, Ctrl-S to save. Original weird CUA
cut/copy/paste was replaced with Mac-style Ctrl-X/C/V.

That's how _all_ editors work now -- including Kate, GEdit, Leafpad,
Geany, basically every Linux desktop's editor.

Except at the shell prompt, where horrid arcane old stuff from the
1970s lives on like a pack of zombies. All are totally weird and
nonstandard except for a third-rate knock-off of WordStar, which
itself was weird and nonstandard, because there were no standards back

I refuse to even try to use any of them.

I want a CUA editor. Standard menu bar, all the standard keystrokes.
Standard terminology -- files/windows/panes/cut/copy/paste/clipboard
etc. I will not use anything that involves "yanking" or "buffers" or
command modes or any of that '70s garbage.

Get modern or get out.

The point here being that I learned *dozens* of editor UIs in my teens
and early 20s. They were all horrid to some degree. The Mac banished
them all, Windows nailed the coffin shut.

MS-DOS conformed. It's _long_ past time Unix did too.

> Requirement: __has_to__ work on a terminal without loss of
> functionality (even though 99% of my editing happens in X, and I can
> live with "some" loss), no Javascript inside (mostly, because I am not
> willing to learn this anytime soon).


> Right now, the best choice for me is emacs - lots of configurability,
> I can take Elisp to another emacs and hopefully it will work there,
> too.

I have tried. Repeatedly. The crazy horrid old UI and crazy horrid
terminology in the manual and tutorial put me off. I can't get past

I don't write code. I want no syntax highlighting, no code-completion,
none of that, because it gets in my way.

I write English and I want a tool for that, with the standard UI and
keystrokes. Any additional wonderful editing power is nice but
entirely secondary. I don't need it. I don't really want it.

But with the big 2 -- vi and emacs -- I have to get past foul fetid
stinking rotten '70s UIs -- and the only enticement, the only reason,
is vast editing power I don't actually need.

> Of course I will gladly learn about other choices. Seriously. What
> others are using?

I think my choices will offer nothing to you! :-(

>> Did I mention my more or less complete and utter loathing for C21 computing?
> I guess a lot of people do, too.

Yes. But not enough. :-)

>> Why do you think I'm playing with MS-DOS again after 20y?
> I can see your loathing is bigger than mine... ("Spaceballs")


Liam Proven • Profile: https://about.me/liamproven
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