atto: Pushing the limits of practicality

For a second title today, here’s atto.

2015-04-07-6m47421-atto-01 2015-04-07-6m47421-atto-02

atto is a line editor of extremely minuscule dimensions. The source code takes up only 16K, and the executable is a mere 18K. My ancient ps_mem.py script tells me that, without a loaded file, atto is running on 40K, which makes it technically smaller than e3 — and that is saying something.

Problem is, as a line editor, it can be quite a tangle to work with. I supposed if you’ve handled ex, which is vi’s line editor counterpart, atto might be easier to learn.

But for me, line editors are mostly inscrutable. atto has a help screen that shows all the available keystrokes and their corresponding actions, but I find I’m a bit lost on how to even navigate with atto. I see that pressing SPACE steps through the file line by line for me, and if I press “e” I get an editing prompt, but beyond that, I’m mostly lost.

I suppose I should be disappointed or try harder, but to be honest, atto (and line editors on the whole) are mostly curiosities to me. I have tried a few, and even some that are one step up from your normal line editor, but the entire style just doesn’t appeal to me. I cut my teeth on WordStar and the like, and line-by-line editing is just not my style.

In any case, I can see the usefulness of extremely small editors such as this, and given its gossamer profile, it has applications in wicked tight situations. But I would probably have to work my way back to the Pentium era to put myself into one of those spots.

Not in AUR. Not in Debian. The command to compile atto is on the home page. Enjoy!