Thanks a lot, rjbull. Such a detailed post, I really appreciate it. I went to the VDE link and got totally absorbed in it, and while I was clicking links here and there for the "other" DOS utilities, I came across the Shorthand for Windows third-party utility page which mentions that Tame allows Shorthand to work in DOS programs. Wow, was I surprised! As I think you know, I'm pretty intimately knowledgeable about the Shorthand abbreviation expander (in a lot of respects), but I didn't know that! I immediately put that on my board and I'll have to try it out myself.
Having finished with that tangent unrelated to your post, VDE looks pretty interesting. Thanks for all the info.