I've just been looking at a few more Windows editors. Originally, I was looking for these features:
- Automatic back-ups
- Edit multiple files (tabbed interface?)
- Ability to specify filters as external user tools (most seem to unable to cope with redirection symbols)
I looked at (freeware) Metapad, TED Notepad (great little editor), Crimson Editor (nice), PSPad, Notetab Light, PFE, Editor2, ConTEXT, and briefly at (payware) Boxer. I have a copy of Notepad++ to try. I'd be interested in further recommendations, but (correct me if I'm wrong) none of those I've seen so far seemed to have all
the features I wanted. Worse, another very serious lack became obvious: the Windows-Notepad idea of marking text is a feeble, crippled thing. In almost all the Windows editors I've seen, you have to use the mouse, or Shift-arrow keys, to mark text. If you press almost any other
key, you lose the marked area and have to start again. That means that if you want to mark a long piece of text, you have to keep tediously scrolling down and just hope you don't overshoot your target.
Compare this with WordStar-style editors. You drop a Start Block marker with Control-K,B (^KB). You can use ^QF Find to locate a target point, or ^QM/^Q1 to go to a bookmark - and the Start Block marker is unaffected
while you do so. When you've marked what you want, you drop an End Block marker with ^KK and the block is locked as a unit. You can still whizz around the file without affecting your marked area. It only becomes unmarked when you make a deliberate action to unmark it. That's a far more efficient way than Notepad-style for handling text. True, I believe Boxer and TED Notepad both have limited work-arounds, but not as good.
Do Windows editors really have to be so bad? So much worse than my favourite WordStar-style DOS editor, VDE
, at handling text?
Of course, WordStar is One True True Way
for writers: here's author Robert Sawyer's manifesto
on the subject.