wpe and we: Someone’s been reading my mind

If you’ve ever wondered, the answer is yes, I do have a short checklist of things I like from a text-based program. And I don’t mind sharing it. A program should …

  • function, which is to say, does what it promises;
  • have color, which you knew was coming;
  • use a full-screen interface, as opposed to just single-shot commands;
  • accept flexible terminal dimensions, because tiling window managers are a reality; and
  • show on-screen (or at least on-board) help, as a courtesy to get people started.

I could mention a few more but they would be minor — like relying on $EDITOR and $PAGER, not doing too much at once, allowing (at least a little) customization, using conventional tools whenever possible, and so forth.

There are some shortcuts, like using an F1 key to display the man page for the program, and I appreciate that because it ties two points together. And sometimes I’ll forgive one point if a program touches another in an amusing way. But for the most part … that’ll do, pig.

So we come to wpe, a programming environment, which includes its sister editor tool, we:


And you can probably see that this is a slam-dunk. wpe not only tackles all of the major points, but manages to throw in a few I hadn’t really thought to mention.

wpe (and we, to a lesser degree) adds:

  • A built-in file manager.
  • A built-in windowing system, with tiling and cascading modes.
  • Built-in programming references.
  • Old-school Wordstar-ish block selection for copy-and-paste functions.
  • Window zooming, which is sort of like maximizing a document.
  • gpm-driven mouse support.
  • Syntax highlighting and compiler access (I think. Check that; it’s my weak point).
  • Drop-down menus and popup dialogues.
  • X-based versions for those who can’t let go. πŸ˜‰
  • Gobs upon gobs of other features.

It’s like someone’s been reading my mind. 😐

I know I talk big, but I still wander around the planet editing my config files with vim, just because it’s there and because I’m too much of a clod to actually make a switch.

But this is seriously pulling at my heart strings. we in particular is an easy replacement for anything I do editing-wise at the terminal, and as a bonus a lot of its features and configuration appear to mimic the almighty Midnight Commander, which I’ve mentioned here ad nauseum.

It’s a new year. It’s a good time to experiment. I think I’ll hot-wire vim to point to wpe for the day, and see if I notice a difference. If I’m not driven mad by 4 p.m., we’ll call it a success. πŸ˜‰

Regardless of my sanity at 4:01 p.m., let’s stamp this with the gold star of K.Mandla approval: ⭐ For what little that’s worth, of course. … πŸ™„

P.S.: In both Debian and AUR as xwpe, which is the name of the X-based version, but encompasses all four versions. Strange, Debian didn’t split this one out into -console versions. Hmm. … 😐


7 thoughts on “wpe and we: Someone’s been reading my mind

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  3. jmc

    I haven’t tested wpe yet, but from your long list of features, I get the impression that it violates β€œnot doing too much at once”. Shouldn’t things like mc (which you mentioned) do the file manager part (it’s good at it), and tmux the window managing part (it’s good at it); so that wpe can focus on what it really wants to be (a programming editor).
    Anyway, nice post! I like it that you spend a bit of time on your philosophy of what a good program should have. Thanks a lot (for all other posts as well, by the way).

    1. K.Mandla Post author

      You’re right, it would be a transgression, albeit minor. πŸ™‚

      Some of that might be my fault though; I might have misled by using the term “file manager.” That’s how it appears in the drop-down menus, but it’s more like a “file selector dialogue,” where you can navigate directory trees and select a file to edit.

      I don’t think it has many “file manager” functions now that I’ve looked at it again, and so maybe it’s not a huge transgression. πŸ˜‰

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