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. ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • Gobs upon gobs of other features.

It’s like someone’s been reading my mind. ๐Ÿ˜

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Regardless of my sanity at 4:01 p.m., let’s stamp this with the gold star of K.Mandla approval: โญ For what little that’s worth, of course. … ๐Ÿ™„

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. … ๐Ÿ˜

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 โ€œnot doing too much at onceโ€. 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

      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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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