April 24, 2019

The Year In Review: LinuxPlanet's Picks for the Best and Worst of 2001 - page 4

2001: The Year That Was

  • December 30, 2001
  • By Michael Hall
We understand that text editors and word processors aren't the same thing, but for a group of people who spend most of their time writing (as opposed to 'editing text'), it seemed best to let each writer speak to the categories in appropriate proportion. There's no clear favorite in this area, though editor Michael Hall demonstrates how far one man's devotion to Emacs can go...
  • KWord
  • Emacs
  • OpenOffice

Favorite text editor/word processor: mph

Emacs 21 is my favorite text editor. I don't use word processors unless forced to, and then usually as a way to convert text files I've composed with Emacs to whatever format is required of me. It was painful to wait for the Emacs team to finish up the latest version, especially after they asked the few archives making the source available prior to release to pull it down.

The thing that makes Emacs most worthwhile for me is html-helper-mode, with Bradley Rhodes' Remembrance Agent coming in a close second. Remembrance Agent performs the useful function of indexing files and e-mail and then presenting a running list of which are most pertinent to the file you're working on at the moment. html-helper-mode is a convenience kit for composing HTML that offers useful bindings for creating tags and other markup chores.

I'm married enough to the Emacs keybindings that I usually use Jed emulating Emacs for my slower machines, and installed xkeymacs on the Windows 2000 machine in the office.

dep replies: I fully expect that one day in the new year I'll awaken to the happy news that scientists have isolated the Emacs gene. That's because I'm convinced that proclivities toward Emacs simply must be genetic: take a dozen people of equal knowledge and abilities and put them in front of machines running Emacs and a certain number of them will take to it at once, while a few will muddle along, and the rest will wish they'd chosen to take part instead in the study of novocaine-free root canals. It would be good to know whether it is a recessive gene. Then the political correctness debate can begin: which group has to be sensitive to the other group.

Favorite text editor/word processor: bkp

Vi! No, emacs!

What, you think I'm going to tell you my favorite text editor and start another flame war? This is obviously some brazen attempt by Michael to get me in the sights of some seriously distur--er, dedicated people.

I will 'fess up to my favorite word processor, however. It's got to be OpenOffice writer. Look, I was born and raised as a Word guru, and Writer obviously has the most appeal for me on those grounds alone!

dep replies: Again, the text editor question is a matter of least bad. Neither Vi nor EMACS can claim that title, being as they are the software equivalent of riding a Vespa motor scooter all winter.

I wish I could develop some enthusiasm for OpenOffice/StarOffice, just as I wish I could embrace Mozilla. But code bloat alone makes me think of those projects as things to which those who oppose open source could point in support of the claim that we don't do it any better. With them, we've abandoned the notion of small and fast. Small and fast can be done, because it was done for years. A little discipline in coding is in order.

Favorite text editor/word processor: dep

KWord. It has some shortcomings, especially in the Qt-2.x version, but the things it doesn't yet do are mostly things I don't need. Its chief shortcoming is in the area of file filters -- it imports a lot and exports very little, and the things its imports it doesn't necessarily do completely.

But I've come to love typeface anti-aliasing, and after one has written in Serifa in KWord for awhile, nothing else looks at all finished. (By this, I mean the ability to look at the screen and see what one is writing as words, rather than as words that look awful.)

That having been said, there is no Linux word processor that in my estimation is as good as the best OS/2 word processors, or even the best DOS ones. When I began writing .comment, one of my first columns bemoaned the lack of good console applications of the sort we had in DOS. There are things for which a GUI is not especially well suited, and word processing is among them. Oh, to see a full set of text mode applications, with a common user interface, even a menuing and file management program the equivalent of the old Power Menu! It would bring new life to low-end machines and would remind us that computers are sometimes here to do work.

Which brings me to my favorite editors. Yes, there are two. When I'm in a GUI, Nedit -- my tax dollars at work, at least at the beginning -- and when I'm in a console, Pico, because for a lot of years on BBSes Pico was the editor when entering or responding to posts.

There was a time when the Linux sphere was made up of Unix hands, and that is still true to some extent -- and my hat is off to them. But I think that now the majority of Linux users are from the DOS and DOSrivative world. There are more people who know Edlin than know vi. Hell, there are probably more people who know copy con than who know vi!

There is work to be done on all fronts here.

bkp replies: Text editor, schmext editor. This may be all well and good for all your scripting, but is a new user going to really want to learn all of the key configurations for Emacs or vi? If they need a text editor, what's wrong with Kwrite?

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