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Author Topic: The Best Of: text editors  (Read 48653 times)
tranglos
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« Reply #25 on: April 27, 2009, 07:28:17 PM »

Could you tell me what you use a text editor for if not for programming?  If that's true, then i'm in the same situation as yourself.  But I don't know what features to look for in a text editor.  And i feel like everyone else that talks about text editors focuses on the programming, so i never can relate. 

I touched on that at the top of my article. I typed that very post in EmEditor (via this Firefox add-on). But the heavy-duty stuff I do is related to my work in translating software and websites. Often I review translations in xml and other formats, where the tags are dense and must not be damaged. Other times I make global changes in files, or extract text from in-between the tags, e.g. to do a proper spellcheck without the spellchecker stumbling on the tags and various codes. I clean up translation memories to generate glossaries for my own use, which involves stripping not only xml tags, but random RTF codes and similar crud. And I as I mentioned in the post, these files are often pretty big, and they are almost always Unicode.

So in my case it's not so much creating new files (whether prose or program code) - it's more of reading, navigating, searching for and replacing stuff, doing all sorts of tweaks and transformations. That's also why I need capable macros, or better, editable scripts to automate tasks and adapt to changes.

I should say that most people in my line of work probably don't do all the stuff I do. There are specialized tools for localization, which I also use, but they are awfully limited in their editing capabilities (and forget about macros). There are things that I can do much faster in a text editor, and there are things which I would be entirely unable to do without one. For example, I sometimes need to edit parts of files which the professional translation tools (hundreds of Euros per license) won't even let me touch. I also use a dictionary program I wrote (called Tranglos - my domain was set up to publish it), and for that I need to convert from or clean up various bilingual files. I've written a converter, but often I use regular expressions in a text editor to prepare files, even if it's just to change the structure of a file because it's faster than recompiling my converter smiley

Speed of keyboard operation also counts, since I sell my time. Any function that's not keyboardable means I take longer to finish a task. That's one reason I love EmEditor's way of assigning more than one key combination to a function: that way I can have four (4) different ways to invoke Find (I use three of them commonly, without thinking of which to use or why). It's also why EditPad Pro's search, though powerful and visually pleasing, throws me off a little, since it's designed more to be used with the mouse.

I try to use the most convenient tool for a job. I won't fire up Oxygen to edit a word in an xml file - EmEditor is fine for that; but Oxygen is very helpful when I need to figure out the structure of a large xml file, or validate one, make global changes or extract whole blocks of xml.

I hope my post doesn't come across as a bunch of complaints. It's fun to juggle all those editors and discover what they can do - and the Grid view in Oxygen (pictured in one of the screenshots) is truly a sci-fi kind of beauty.
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superboyac
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« Reply #26 on: April 27, 2009, 07:33:45 PM »

I hope my post doesn't come across as a bunch of complaints. It's fun to juggle all those editors and discover what they can do - and the Grid view in Oxygen (pictured in one of the screenshots) is truly a sci-fi kind of beauty.
Not at all!  I loved the post, very nicely said.  I'm just like you as far as software goes, I want the most efficient program possible and time is money.  All software is basically a toolbox to make life more productive and help you gain time for things that are truly human functions.

Well, your needs are very specific.  if I run across something that helps, I'll be sure to post it here.
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MilesAhead
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« Reply #27 on: April 27, 2009, 08:45:27 PM »

Also if you have more time than money you can get XEmacs, some Windows ports of vi, and edt.  There was a cool fast free Dos editor called BlackBeard. The thing that was unique about it at the time was it did column cut & paste.

Also very small for putting on a WinPE or other emergency disk with real Dos programs for editing small files.

The nice thing about XEmacs for Windows is it has the menus to click with the mouse until you learn the hotkey combinations and commands.

One thing that drives me crazy is editors that don't have a pattern match search & replace that lets you append to the found pattern. I believe the DEC EDT had this ability and I'm sure a lot of the unix/linux editors do too. Coming from Dos/Windows I get frustrated jumping in and out of edit mode like in vi.  When I was doing Linux a lot I used it just enough to see that if you kept up with it you could rock & roll.  Commands to rework whole regions of files and shuffle the paragraphs around etc... if you could keep from ripping your hair out while learning it. smiley
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Shades
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« Reply #28 on: April 27, 2009, 09:32:18 PM »

Some days ago I was made aware of the existence  of an older XML editor, called XML Marker. Unfortunately, but it seems there is no active development going on, but after trying it I was pleasantly surprised about the size of the installation software (1 Mbyte),  the four views it gave me from the test XML file that was fed to it and the fact that it was Java-less freeware.

What I gathered from the overview was that the author was not happy with the XML editor because it was Java based and happy because of the views. XML Marker is able to whip up the same views plus one extra...from what I saw during my 5 minutes of "testing the application". Maybe a contender for the throne currently held by Oxygene XML editor?  smiley
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erikts
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« Reply #29 on: April 27, 2009, 11:42:33 PM »

There was a cool fast free Dos editor called BlackBeard. The thing that was unique about it at the time was it did column cut & paste.

I am searching for BlackBeard and found this interesting page:

TextEditors Wiki

I frequently use Editor² to replace MS Windows' Notepad.
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simakuutio
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« Reply #30 on: April 28, 2009, 12:05:25 AM »

All of you have missed one very very very good editor which should be covered also:

E-TextEditor. Contains whole a lot great features and supports almost too many different formats....smiley

Worth of checking, IMHO!

If there is some deal to purchase this one, it would be SO cool.

(and yes, I'm still mostly using Gnu Emacs to editing but sometimes I need something special and then I'm using E-TextEditor).
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MilesAhead
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« Reply #31 on: April 28, 2009, 12:22:43 AM »

@erikts I'm kind of sorry I don't have Turbo Pascal with TurboVision anymore. Nice light weight Menus and Dialog boxes in console mode good for making small Dos programs for rescue discs.  There was probably some editor code around somewhere for free that could be adapted. For emergencies I want the usage of the editor I never use otherwise to be really obvious.  Too stressed out to remember a bunch of shortcuts and commands. Just want a menu open the file, drag the mouse, cut pastes, save, my computer boots up now. smiley
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Perry Mowbray
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« Reply #32 on: April 28, 2009, 01:48:52 AM »

I use Pyscriptter already, but what I am looking for teaching words to the editor not just imported module completion. I know I can use outside programs but I have enough stuff running in my system already smiley

Have you tried PyScripter (free)? If I recall correctly, it does code completion for all the included modules, not just the current file. I haven't really used it though, since my Python education has

PSPad? It'll remember/complete currently used words
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tranglos
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« Reply #33 on: April 28, 2009, 03:58:06 AM »

All of you have missed one very very very good editor which should be covered also:

E-TextEditor. Contains whole a lot great features and supports almost too many different formats....smiley

Worth of checking, IMHO!

It's the second time e comes up in this thread (superboyac also mentioned it earlier). What are the features that you like?

As I wrote in my reply to superboyac, I did try it once, and it seemed to be a little too early for practical use, as it was missing even the basic clipboard-related functions in the menu. I see the screencast on their website touts synchronous editing - it's indeed somewhat rare. (I think Boxer supports it to some extent, as does the latest Delphi IDE). They also emphasize "TextMate bundles", but I could never find out what they are exactly, or how they relate to text clips or macros.

Would you care to give me a short "e for dummies" intro?
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tranglos
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« Reply #34 on: April 28, 2009, 04:10:11 AM »

What I gathered from the overview was that the author was not happy with the XML editor because it was Java based and happy because of the views. XML Marker is able to whip up the same views plus one extra...from what I saw during my 5 minutes of "testing the application". Maybe a contender for the throne currently held by Oxygene XML editor?  smiley

Thanks, Shades. I did try XML Marker once. Unfortunately, it does not support Unicode encodings, so I could not use it. Not supporting at least UTF-8 is a bit of a blind alley for an xml editor, since UTF-8 is the "native", default encoding for xml.

I had to mention the startup time of Oxygen, since what good is a review of a Java program without a little friendly poke in the ribs about that? smiley In my defense, I share the favor equally between Java and .Net programs.

I should say though that once Oxygen is running, it is not perceptibly sluggish at all (unlike .Net apps, which are *always* slow, even when they are shutting down, heh!).

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mxn
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« Reply #35 on: April 28, 2009, 05:50:45 AM »

All of you have missed one very very very good editor which should be covered also:
E-TextEditor. Contains whole a lot great features and supports almost too many different formats....smiley
Worth of checking, IMHO!
I tried E-TextEditor a few years back but uninstalled it immediately. To use its advanced features you need Cygwin, and Cygwin installed 760 MB in 44 136 files. That's about twice as many files as I currently have in my program files folder, with 200 applications installed.
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tranglos
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« Reply #36 on: April 28, 2009, 06:22:41 AM »

Very nice review but I wonder does any of them have my dream-like functionality: live filter with column mode

I don't think so. I agree it would be very useful. Have you found it anywhere else?

Perhaps pick an editor that already does column selection, and pester the author to add live filtering - it would be a pretty rare feature, hence a selling point.

You already know that EditPad Pro will fold text and show only matching lines. What I didn't notice until yesterday is that there is a "Copy visible lines" command under the Fold menu (not where you typically look for clipboard commands). It does what it says: after a search and fold, it will copy only the matching lines without the remainder of the paragraphs.

TextPad lets me do the same more easily with its full support for clipboard operations on bookmarked lines. Neither solution is as good as live filtering, but both can be used to extract the matches, perhaps to analyze them in a separate editor tab.
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tranglos
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« Reply #37 on: April 28, 2009, 06:26:02 AM »

I tried E-TextEditor a few years back but uninstalled it immediately. To use its advanced features you need Cygwin, and Cygwin installed 760 MB in 44 136 files. That's about twice as many files as I currently have in my program files folder, with 200 applications installed.

I'm curious as to what e can do with Cygwin. Since you can write JavaScript and VBScript code for EmEditor, you can probably do as much there - but I'd still like to find out more about e.

As for the installation, Cygwin can be significantly trimmed down. You only need the executables and the library folders. Other folders contain documentation (which you can zip up to save space) and a lot of source code (which you can delete). I think you can trim it by more than half.
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utility man
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« Reply #38 on: April 28, 2009, 07:51:49 AM »

Of the text editors that I have used seriously, here's a quick wrap.
[I've tried to exclude points already made in this thread]
UltraEdit
The Good
Under constant development
support requests are answered promptly
somewhat extensible through scripting - I don't think Activex objects are creatable though
large file handling

The Bad
recording and saving macros is very un-intuitive. I've been using this editor for around 10 years and just cannot understand why this hasn't been re-worked.
the ugly brown program icon
multiple regular expression engines supported - this should be a positive, but I find it a bit confusing when I have to switch between them occasionally.
finding stuff in the default menu structure and options screens is difficult.
Documentation of the scripting object model is flimsy at best.

Emeditor
The Good
one of my first tests when evaluating a text editor is it's ability to handle a multi-line regular expression search and replace. Emeditor handles this without problem or the need to learn an obscure flavour of regex.
very extensible.
large file handling
The Bad
no built in support for file comparison and the plug-in is clunky and basic.
other functionality provided by plugins are not as polished as the built-in versions in other editors. e.g. sorting, extracting lines containing a search string, etc.
same scripting documentation issues as Ultraedit [above]

JEdit
This is my personal favourite by a long way
The Good
macro recording, editing, storing, etc is the cleanest and most usable that I've seen
highly extensible via macros and plugins.
block selection mode just works. enable it temporarily when selecting via mouse, allows pasting from clipboard into selected block, zero width blocks, etc, etc.
multiple concurrent selections - when enabled, many non-contiguous text sections can be selected, copied, pasted, etc. I haven't seen this in any other text editor.
The Bad
takes a bit of time to set it up as, out of the box, it is fairly spartan.
Being java-based, it doesn't handle large files well.
For some reason, the font rendering on some low-end LCDs is pretty rough. I'm not sure if this is the fault of the JRE, Jedit or how I have configured stuff.
No print preview.
Pretty much any stumbling block has been met and overcome by someone else. The multitude of macros and plugins available will cover pretty much anything.
Plugins are especially useful for integrating with other tools, e.g. clearcase, scripting engines, command interpreters, etc, etc.

All three are mature, useful editors.
As stated by others, I can't find one editor that does everything that I need.
One day, maybe ....
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rjbull
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« Reply #39 on: April 28, 2009, 08:19:07 AM »

tranglos, great post!  I'm glad I inspired something  Wink

I've concluded I'll never find a Windows text editor I'm really happy with, because I don't like the way Windows works.  Like you, I find that many seem to be oriented mainly towards programmers, and I'm not a programmer.  Again like you, I find I want macros I can edit.  My problem is that not being a programmer, it had better be a simple macro language, with enough details in the editor's Help file.  I don't want to have to learn Javascript, Lua or whatever just to program the editor. 

Incremental search: what is that?

Search and replace in multiple files: I routinely have to make the same replacements if multiple files, so I use a multi-file search-and-replace program, now usually HFFR Text Workbench.  This is claimed to do unicode and Word files, amongst other things, though I haven't tried those features yet.

Text clips: an interesting idea, depending on what's meant by it.  I have a variety of programs for text expansion and completion if I want them, and at least completion is included in many editors.  Many other programs offer text clips and templates, e.g. AceText (which I haven't tried) by the author of EditPad Pro (payware), and freewares like Konrad Pappala's Ka TypeIn.  It's simple, but allows you to add your own named variables in templates, e.g. "firstname", "lastname".  As a very simple trial, I made one for quoting URLs in DC's SMF.  Then there's mouser's own Form Letter Machine (again I haven't tried it), and some template functionality is offered by most clipboard enhancers, like ArsClip and the clipboard module in Comfort Keys by Comfort Software.  That one is so clever you can build little menus with it.

Short comments a few editors I've tried recently:

  • Boxer: abandoned because it doesn't wrap text to the window, so can't see long lines
  • EmEditor: abandoned (at least for now) as a consequence of its license.  If you use it at work, you exhaust the terms of the license, even if you purchased the license with your own money.  The workaround is to install it as portable - but it's crashed on me a couple of times when I've done that, not during basic editing, but when fiddling with macros and configuring.  That may not be EmEditor's "fault," but whatever the reason, if it crashes, I can't depend on it.
  • PsPad: didn't quite "click," and crashed when making extensive use of the clipboard facility.
  • Notepad++: much improved since I last looked at it.  Still some glitches, e.g. the only way to make it recognise the AWK syntax file was to uninstall it, then reinstall it as portable: no accelerator keys on some menus; macros saves as XML, which means some folk can edit them, but I can't.  Please could there be a free-standing menu-driven macro editor, or something?
  • HippoEdit: first impressions are it works well, looks nice, friendly forums, developer working hard, but (apart from no macros yet) it's positioned as a programmer's editor more than a general text editor, which is what I need more.  I think the Help file could do with some work, too.  It tells you what can be done, but it often isn't obvious how to do it.  E.g., there doesn't seem to be a menu item (that I could see) for wrapping text, that's on a button.
  • Zeus 3.94a (free): installed, took one look, wow, that's one hardcore programmer's editor!

What I actually use:

DOS editor/word processors VDE and PC-Write, largely because I'm used to them, but also because they're WordStar command set.  One more nice thing about WordStar: bookmarks are to the character, not just to the line.  Infinitely more useful for editing text.  When I do Windows editors, currently it's TED Notepad and/or Crimson Editor, depending on what I'm doing.  Lately Notepad++ has been coming up on the outside.

One other note: while the NoteTab editors don't seem to have much mindshare on DC, NoteTab Pro is due on Bits du Jour at half price on Monday 4th May 2009.

[edit]
Forgot to add, there's also The Semware Editor (TSE), another with little mindshare on DC, and another I haven't tried.
[/edit]
« Last Edit: April 28, 2009, 08:25:51 AM by rjbull » Logged
xtabber
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« Reply #40 on: April 28, 2009, 11:25:40 AM »

Very nice review but I wonder does any of them have my dream-like functionality: live filter with column mode

Kedit does that, although whether or not it meets your ideal may depend on just exactly what kind of filtering you want to do.  I work a lot with fixed field flat file data and this ability allows me to perform editing functions within a field (defined as a vertical column) without affecting the surrounding data in a record (i.e., on each line).  You can also restrict editing to a rectangular selection box within a file.

Kedit's macro language is a version of REXX and you can write programs to do just about anything REXX can handle within a column range or in a rectangular box.

I find I need at least two editors for everyday use because stream oriented editors (the vast majoriity) cannot do the kind of columnar/block editing that I need much of the time, whereas line-oriented editors (Kedit, THE and a few others) cannot do things I need at other times (reflow the display of text without reflowing the text itself, multi-line pattern searching, etc.). These are limitations of basic editor design more than anything else.

My primary (and favorite, by far) editor is Kedit. For when I need a stream-oriented editor, I have tried many over the years, but have recently settled on EditPadPro. I kept SlickEdit up to date for many years but always found it too cumbersome to use as an editor and not quite enough as an IDE and gave up on it altogether sonme time ago.

For working with C programs, I use either Understand (from Scientific Toolworks - $495 and up! Ouch!) or Source Insight from Source Dynamics ($239).  Both are editors with extensive integrated source code analysis capabilities. Understand is much more powerful and handles more languages, but Source Insight works better for some things.
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cranioscopical
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« Reply #41 on: April 28, 2009, 11:32:13 AM »

I don't like the way Windows works

It works?

huh
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Chris
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« Reply #42 on: April 28, 2009, 12:00:32 PM »

 Grin
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urlwolf
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« Reply #43 on: April 28, 2009, 12:08:17 PM »

Text editing is a solved problem. Vim or emacs are the two only options tongue
(kidding, I have tried most of those editors. I like emEditor the most; I'd still take Vim or emacs for real programming).
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MilesAhead
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« Reply #44 on: April 28, 2009, 12:22:47 PM »

For the non-programmers someone should probably start a thread on good, word processors. I've tried some of the Open Office stuff afa free wp goes, but I don't use that type enough to even know how to record a macro.  Someone who really is into them should give a breakdown for non-programmers to get places to look for good finds.

btw while we're on the subject of processing text can somebody email those guys who make the editor applets for boards so that when you hit the Enter key the way the stuff looks doesn't change when you hit Post?
Seems like no matter how I word-wrap or hard line break, the stuff comes out jagged lookin' as hell on most boards.
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« Reply #45 on: April 28, 2009, 12:30:47 PM »

Regarding TextPad...
Quote
- No folding, no rectangular selection, no indentation guides or nesting indicators
This is not quite true if I understand it correctly.  The No folding is true, but the no rectangular selection is clearly wrong (though it doesn't necessarily make sense where it is).  Cntrl +Q,B is the hotkey for Block Select (it is also listed under Configure menu item).  Though there are no guides per se for the indentation, it can be set by the user to any set number of characters and it repeats (no differential indention depending on level unfortunately, but then you might want to use OOo or Word for that complex a document anyway  Wink ).  Lastly nesting indicator - um, don't know what that is so no comment.

Hope that helps you with some of the bad there.  You certainly nailed all it's other weak points that I see (and some I didn't).
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tranglos
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« Reply #46 on: April 28, 2009, 01:26:03 PM »

This is not quite true if I understand it correctly.  The No folding is true, but the no rectangular selection is clearly wrong (though it doesn't necessarily make sense where it is).  Cntrl +Q,B is the hotkey for Block Select (it is also listed under Configure menu item).

Thanks a lot, steeladept, I'll fix the description.
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tranglos
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« Reply #47 on: April 28, 2009, 01:32:12 PM »

Lastly nesting indicator - um, don't know what that is so no comment.

Not sure if that's a good name - it's what HippoEdit seems to have invented (at least I'd never seen it before). HippoEdit progressively changes the shade of the background color, making it darker as the nesting level of tags increases:



I suppose indentation guides serve practically the same purpose; I was just a little gushy about Hippo, since it seems to do it all in the visual department, though still misses other functionality.
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superboyac
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« Reply #48 on: April 28, 2009, 01:37:18 PM »

Hippo seems cool.
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« Reply #49 on: April 28, 2009, 02:01:36 PM »

Very nice review but I wonder does any of them have my dream-like functionality: live filter with column mode

I don't think so. I agree it would be very useful. Have you found it anywhere else?
No. That is why I've asked.

Copying "visible lines" could be not so bad but will importing them back not "break" the rest of the file? If I had to choose I would rather stay with regexp instead.

2xtabber
I'll check their demo version to know is it what I want but I doubt I will use it after that. It would not be wise to buy this application only because of that functionality IMHO. Other free editors suit my needs pretty well.
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