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Windows editors - do they have to be so bad?

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I've just been looking at a few more Windows editors.  Originally, I was looking for these features:

* Automatic back-ups
* Bookmarks
* 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.

maybe gvim is something for you. It keeps backups, it has a bookmark feature (line such-and-such in that file), lets you edit many files, has tabs, and you can filter a file or a selection or even a range of lines through any external program.

Vim and therefore gvim are free of charge. It comes with extended inline documentation about its features.

However, vim works in different modes: input mode and normal mode for example. This concept takes a little time getting used to; I think it works marvelous. :)

You might look at UltraEdit.  I haven't used the feature, but "persistent selection" is available.  UE also handles multiple files and has bookmarks, a tabbed interface, backup options, user tools, and scripting.

It would be easy making a plugin for Notepad++ that has a limited version of your desired selection-mode: dropping a start-marker would provide no visual clue of your selection range, and once an end-marker is placed you'd be back to the usual "Any other keypress loses selection". If NP++ has the other features you need and you can live with this limited thing, let me know and I'll take a look at plugin creation.

Carol Haynes:
You could try EditPad too at

There is also a free lite version (see the link at the bottom of the left hand menu)


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