Tag Archives: editor

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!

mined: Long overdue

I could swear that I had looked through mined a year or two ago, and found it worthy. But I got an email yesterday from martintxoz saying it wasn’t anywhere on this site, which would be a dire oversight. And now, looking through the Index I find nothing, and both DuckDuckGo and Google agree: I have been remiss.

2015-02-24-6m47421-mined-01 2015-02-24-6m47421-mined-02 2015-02-24-6m47421-mined-03

mined is a text editor that comes in a variety of flavors and versions, and one of the reasons I should have visited this long before now is that it goes to great lengths to satisfy weirdos like me.

Perhaps the most satisfying being, it has the option for commands and keystrokes that mimic WordStar, so I don’t have to suffer to learn unintuitive keystrokes. (It will also pretend to be pico, or even emacs, although I shudder at the thought.)

And it uses color, has pulldown and popup menus at every turn, syntax highlighting, on-screen cues, mouse support and a man page almost as long as mplayer‘s. 😯


If that isn’t enough for you, I can honestly claim that I’m amazed at the length and breadth of options available to you — all the way down to whether a paragraph end is coded with a non-blank line end, or an empty line. That is considerable detail.

Supposedly, mined’s real claim to fame is support for multicode characters or alphabets beyond the stale 26 letters that comprise Western language. If you need access to those glyphs, mined might be something to look into.

Of course, that lack of character support is what causes some of the goofy images you see in the screenshots. I could do everyone a favor and install something a little more visible than just the garble you see here and there, but I’m lazy today. πŸ˜‰

mined is good stuff. It has just about every feature you could imagine, makes no excuses for pulling in the keystrokes and styles of other popular editors, uses colors and a menu approach, and even has features that will appeal to specific groups of users. It’s well arranged, well thought-out and has a clean visual appearance.

With that much going for it, this shouldn’t be a surprise: ⭐ Enjoy! πŸ˜‰

note: A noteworthy application

Note-taking tools are in abundance at the console, and some of them are so simple as to be almost rudimentary. Even I am guilty of stashing a few oddball commands in a flat text file called “tricks,” and just grepping through it when I need to find something.

The irony of that is that there are many other applications that would do much the same thing, and have internal tools that would save me time and trouble. note, for example, has a clean and easy to manage format, and an interactive mode to boot.


You can kick note into action with just the note command and a flag or two, or you can access its primary functions through the captive interface, like above. Add a note or edit a note, and you drop into your $EDITOR … and I always like it when note-taking tools do that.

Afterward, you can delete notes or even search through them, and you don’t have to rely on shell commands or external programs, unless you want to.

note also supports a “hierarchical” structure that it calls “topics.” If the first line of your note shows a topic path — like “/Wash/dog/” — note will arrange it and list it in topical sequence. This isn’t quite as elaborate as what hnb or tudu can do, but it’s a nice feature.

note has a few other configurations worth mentioning, and the man page is there to walk you through most of them. I was able to install and start using note in a matter of minutes, so unless you need very explicit and esoteric features, it should have replaced your flat-file-plus-grep in very short time.

I don’t see any features on prioritizing, check-box to-do lists, or advanced sorting and management. It may be that those features are better implemented in other tools.

What else should I say … ? In AUR. In Debian. And I’m almost embarrassed it took me this long to find it. 😐

vile: That child is an abomination!

Depending on your allegiances, this screenshot is likely to make you howl with maniacal laughter, curse the heavens, or vomit uncontrollably.


Of course, if you have no allegiances (like me), then it doesn’t bother you at all.

That’s vile, which is understood to be an acronym for vi-like emacs. If you are a true believer of either of the vi/vim or emacs camps, the very notion of combining them into a hybrid application is likely to be heresy.

To be clear though, as I understand it, vile hopes to merge vi specifically with some of the emacs superstructure, so it may be that it is forgiven for trying to add on to what the ancient editor could do.

I don’t think it’s necessary to delve too deep into vile to see how it attempts to merge some of the features of both editors. Even the startup screen will cue you in, with the status line listing two or three ways — some very emacs, and some very vi — of accessing the help pages.

But that’s about all I’m going to relate about vile. I happen to belong to that third camp which says both of the prevalent editors are unworthy, and anything else is an improvement.

So the idea of merging vi and emacs strikes me as a completely pointless exercise. Neither of them is that great to start with, and their unholy offspring is not any clear winner.

“The mystery of life isn’t a problem to solve, but a reality to experience.” πŸ˜‰

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. … 😐

nodau: Take note

nodau, which is the last title for today, is a very simple note taker — in fact, both the Debian version and the AUR description say so.


It’s so simple in fact, that if you clicked on that home page link above, you’ll know that the site itself is effectively blank. That’s pretty simple. 😯

Okay, bad joke. The implications of that empty space in the Whirled Why’d Web are few, but noteworthy πŸ˜‰ : Arch users who want to give this a try will probably need to wrangle with the source code (which is newer) mirrored in the Debian version.

I know, it’s an added hassle, but it’s worth it. nodau, you see, does a few things that I think are worth note. Get it? Worth note! Ha! πŸ˜› 😦

First, a quick overview. nodau works in a command-interpret style, with the nodau executable taking a command and doing as it’s told. nodau help lists all its vocabulary. nodau list shows you all the notes it has on file. And so forth. It’s not an innovative style, but it’s quick for adoption.

nodau is smart enough to grab your $EDITOR if you declare one, and let you use that in your notable adventures, so if you’re severely addicted to vim or emacs, don’t feel like you’ll have to learn an entirely new editor.

On the other hand, if you are among the sane members of Homo sapiens who reside on this planet (or off it, I guess πŸ™„ ), nodau provides its own, very basic, very simple text editor to supplement its filing and listing abilities. It’s not flashy and wouldn’t make much of an impression were it to grace this list of its own merit, but it will do.

So you have that ability — to swap out the editor that nodau uses. I like that.

The second option worth listing though, is probably even more useful: nodau can encrypt notes, meaning you can protect prying eyes from reading the next chapter of your Harry Potter/Star Wars fan fiction crossover epic. πŸ™„ I am full of such wit today. …

Once encrypted, a note becomes obscured and won’t be readable or editable without a password. Tell nodau to unencrypt it, and the note returns to its plain text heritage. I will let you research and judge if nodau’s encryption will pass muster, but I think short of security geeks, criminal cartels and corrupt governments, it will probably offer a reasonable degree of protection.

From what I can tell, nodau keeps its data in ~/.local/share/nodau/, so if you go looking for a local copy, I’d encourage you to start there. And yes, I checked, and the encryption appears effective at a cursory glance.

I won’t hold out nodau as some sort of security application that will prevent hackers from stealing your credit card number, but it does strike me as an unusual feature for an otherwise simple note-taking program. A solid thumbs-up for nodau. πŸ˜‰

lpe: Perhaps I am not the target audience

I’m tempting fate by trying to cram this post into the wee hours of the morning, but I think everything will turn out okay: This is lpe.


lpe is short for “lightweight programmer’s editor,” and while I had no particular trouble moving through most of lpe’s basic functions, I will be honest and say that lpe just didn’t thrill me.

It has most of the fundamentals — editing modes, search and search again, cutting and pasting by lines, and so forth — and even has a few bonuses that I look for, like onboard help and a helpful status bar. lpe also seemed perfectly comfortable with the most awkward of terminal sizes, even bizarre 10- and 12-column vertical bars, although it waits for a keypress to refresh its display … which is probably wise.

lpe seems to lack a certain charm though, at least for me. I see that it has quite a few keystrokes aimed at programmers, including options to dump the contents of the “clipboard” into a shell prompt, or sed or awk, or even as a SLang command.

And although I barely scratched the surface, I tinkered briefly with the “command repeater” and macro options. I don’t recall seeing those in some other lightweight editors, but that’s not much praise since there’s a very wide field for comparison.

So what’s it missing? Why doesn’t this enthuse me much? I can’t say for sure. It doesn’t have color, which of course breaks my heart. 😐 And most of the key commands are understandable, but not necessarily intuitive, and tend to use the double-control-key approach found in emacs, et al.

It’s hard for me to say. It might just be that I am not its target audience. If you spend time programming in a restrictive environment or need something specifically lightweight for coding, you might want to try lpe and see if it grabs you. Alas, I leave lpe only vaguely enthused. … 😦

P.S.: I linked to the texteditors.org page above because the link they have for the home page is dead, and I haven’t been able to find a live one anywhere. lpe is in Debian but not Arch/AUR, but the Debian packager apparently didn’t include a home page either. If you find one, let me know.