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Save StrongED, don't let Zap win

By Chris Williams. Published: 26th Feb 2003, 23:46:45 | Permalink | Printable

aka why we want a change in subject

Editor wars, every platform has one. Emacs vs. vi for Unix and for RISC OS, it's StrongED vs. Zap. Despite the fact that people have for years (at the best of times) rabidly ranted on the subject, sorry we mean, discussed the following question for literally years, people still need to ask, "which is better?" This very question is being asked on iconbar.com's frontpage this week/month/century and you're invited to vote on which you think is best in their simple poll. What really is the point? Before you start, this isn't a dig at NoughtPointOne, far from it.

We welcome the new online poll because it's a change in topic. A change in conversation. Something else to talk about, hopefully, when everyone finishes voting for StrongEd. You see, from what started out as innocent chatter about expected RISC OS machines and current RISC OS machines, on drobe and usenet, progressed rapidly into bitter arguments and other commentary. Yeah, 'cos we all need that. It really kicked off when drobe editor Peter Naulls raised a personal concern over technical support for Omega users as a developer considering the end userbase; it's not like he was trolling nonsense. Yes, we mean you Tarquin.

Oh, this isn't going to be a "let's just be excellent to each other for the good of the platform" speech because we can leave that sort of thing to John Cartmell but we could point a finger at the real reason why no one really knows what's going on and we're unfortunately left to guesswork; you know what we mean.

Ok, actual news now
Recent drobe comments have turned around with some readers uncovering some interesting information, such as the Iyonix motherboards on sale from Castle are only spares for current Iyonix users and a select group of users linked to arcsite.de have gotten hold of a few Omegas. We say select because they've found that the Omega runs RISC OS 4.33 without too many problems (or at least that's what we've been told). So sensible discussion can take place and we love it so. As for Zap vs. StrongEd, there's nothing to discuss. StrongEd wins hands down, naturally.


Ok, if the above waffle didn't make you smile, maybe this will. When a friend first showed me this, I thought the site had been hacked. Comments / Flames welcome

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Why even the discussion StrongEd is way better, esspecially from a newbie use pov. Ah, I remember it in it's non-multitaskingform, that pesky broom icon (time for a bring back the broom campaign?) No disrespect to Zap, all is intended very lightheartedly :-) [crikey why do I feel I need to point this out these days, where'd the fun go?]

-- Ryan Hitch, Cottingham

 is a RISC OS Userdrjones69 on 27/2/03 2:00AM
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I remember buying a copy for 20 quid when it was comemrical and reading the manual all the way home thinking, "cor now I can be a programmer".

Don't get me started on old Acorn shows ;-)

Chris, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 27/2/03 2:22AM
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I'm going to be evil and say that Zap is [currently] winning the Iconbar poll against StrongED, though StrongED was initially in the lead by around 20 percent. Let's see what happens when people take avantage of the anonymous voting system.

BTW, I'm a Zap user. :oD -- Simon Wilson, Boulder, Colorado

 is a RISC OS Userksattic on 27/2/03 3:07AM
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I'm a Zap user - although I was StrongEd quite a while ago. I switched because of an obscure and very minor display bug (IMHO) in 256 colours, where after the end of the text, the background was one shade lighter than the background for the text itself.

To be honest, I'd prefer XEmacs (note - not Emacs; there are subtle differences)...

 is a RISC OS Usertribbles2 on 27/2/03 8:54AM
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StrongED is so much easier to use. It looks more friendly to use then Zap. I did try Zap some years back, but StrongED wins for me. -- Paul Stewart, Bletchley, Milton Keynes

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 27/2/03 11:15AM
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You know you all want to use my nano port. Tribs - maybe one day there might be an XEmacs port. Problem is, it's such a beast.

-- Peter, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 27/2/03 11:22AM
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What sold StrongED for me was being able to simply press F4 and up pops a realtime interactive Search Tool. It was amazingly fast at finding stuff.

Plus it was sensibly coloured with white background, black text.

Zap offered the opposite colour scheme which I didn't like.

I too bought a copy of StrongED as it happens.

 is a RISC OS Userquatermass on 27/2/03 1:35PM
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I think I went for Zap because of the default color scheme and fonts...

However, for actually using, StrongED has been recommended to me. I can't really say because I rarely use text editors for anything other than viewing at the moment.

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 27/2/03 1:40PM
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You got the title all wrong, it should be: "Zap rules! Let StrongED lose!"

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 27/2/03 1:58PM
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mrc - Yup, I know it's such a beast. A friend of mine has just bought a 2nd hand A7000 to try to port some stuff over, and Emacs was his first suggestion - I persuaded him that it was probably too big a job to do it on an OS you've never even used, yet alone program in...

In fact, what I'd really like to have is:

1) A text editor that /doesn't/ open up multiple windows for each file you're editing

2) A virtual desktop that doesn't rely on mouse presses to switch between them

3) A windowing environment that has input focus follows mouse

Now, I've seen 3) on RISC OS a while back (but was buggy at the time), and 2) I'd imagine exists. The nearest to 1) is probably TWIN.

If anyone's got any suggestions (preferably stuff that people actually use, rather than 'I saw this once, but didn't like it'), then I'm all ears...

 is a RISC OS Usertribbles2 on 27/2/03 1:59PM
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X/Emacs is precisely the wrong choice for a first port. It's about the last choice :-) Of course, there are loads of Unix editors that could be ported too. Just have a look, for example, through the list of editor packages in Debian.

-- Peter, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 27/2/03 2:09PM
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tribbles: What about Vim? It has been ported to RISC OS, can open multiple fles in each window, and can be configured not to be nasty (ie, modal) if you want. (Look for "cream for vim" for an example...)

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 27/2/03 6:43PM
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StrongEd? But...but...what about all Zap's pretty colours?

And I always thought you Drobe editors had such good taste, too...

 is a RISC OS Userhutchies on 27/2/03 8:45PM
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What? StrongED has plenty of colours. I love its (easily configurable) syntax highlighting.

Chris, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 27/2/03 8:52PM
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To be fair, Zap's colouring is easy to configure. However, creating new modes is not. :)

Somebody was working on a StrongED mode compiler that produced Zap modules at one point. What happened to that?

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 27/2/03 9:03PM
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I for myself prefer ZAP, especially the html mode with its buttonbar is very helpfull.

i myself also prefer black background, well, that's no reason, cause we can change that, do we?

well, generally, i prefer the way zap works, only one feature missing: the folding of procedures....

 is a RISC OS Usercrow on 27/2/03 10:08PM
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nf: I'm afraid I really **hate** vi key bindings, and as a result, I've never tried vim.

I had a wonderful experience when my boss thought he could be a sysadmin (instead of me), so I told him that he could do it, if he could edit a file with vi (we didn't have anything else at the time). He couldn't even enter text, yet alone save it. I kept my job...

 is a RISC OS Usertribbles2 on 27/2/03 10:58PM
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OK, writing as someone with little _deep_ experience in the field, but what is so good about emacs? I keep seeing people proclaiming it as the holy grail of editors - please enlighten me as to it's features (again, intended as an honest question, not some smart-arse trolling.)

Ryan -- Ryan Hitch, Cottingham

 is a RISC OS Userdrjones69 on 28/2/03 2:14AM
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Apologies for double post, have no idea why that hapenned.


[duplication removed, no worries :) - chris, 28/02/03 2:34]

-- Ryan Hitch, Cottingham

 is a RISC OS Userdrjones69 on 28/2/03 2:16AM
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I'm a bit of a StrongEd geezer myself. My main niggle with it is that it displays the System font in modes with more than 32k colours. I tried Zap a couple of months ago but configuring it to my set up was so daughnting.

 is a RISC OS UserSnig on 28/2/03 9:41AM
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Ryan: There really isn't a lot to Emacs - the core doesn't do much.

What makes it really powerful is that it has an embedded Lisp interpreter.

With this, you get extra functionality, such as modes for the different formats you're editing (like Zap and StrongEd), display niceties such as folding editors, 80-column line indicators, syntax highlighting, automatic indentation (and re-indentation).

There's even stuff like an FTP client to connect to a remote machine and manipulate the file as if you were locally editing it, games (Tetris, Minehunt spring to mind), IRC client, shells and compiling.

Since (practically) everything is Lisp, it's modular, so you can upgrade the system one module at a time, or you can decide not to use a particular module.

There's only really two problems with it:

1) It's big (although not as big as Word). On my Win2K box here, it's using 15M (but has 17 files in memory, 8 are Java), and on FreeBSD, it's 10M, with 9 files in memory).

2) It requires an element of 'keyboard playing', where you have to remember keyboard shortcut sequences to do a lot of the work (like Ctrl-X Ctrl-S to save). In fact, mouse support is minimal, which suits me fine - if I'm editing text, then I'm already at the keyboard, so why should I move the mouse to do something simple?

My favourite feature? It's the automatic reindentation by pressing TAB anywhere in the line (if the current editing mode supports it), and also the indenting regions.

Now, I use XEmacs on Windows and FreeBSD to do all my work, and I'd dearly love to do the same under RISC OS - especially when I've just come home from work and press Tab whenever I start a new line and find out that the indentation's been screwed...

 is a RISC OS Usertribbles2 on 28/2/03 10:10AM
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Actually, to save, it should be Ctrl-x and Ctrl-s, since keyboard commands are case sensitive ;-)

 is a RISC OS Usertribbles2 on 28/2/03 10:12AM
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Thanks for clearing that up for me :-) Some of those sound very handy- surely not beyond the realm of possibility to see implementation in one (or all) of our editors in the future (well at least the 'editing' features). -- Ryan Hitch, Cottingham

 is a RISC OS Userdrjones69 on 28/2/03 10:49AM
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Oh, and I like the system font - it's pretty clean (I've been using it for quite a few years now), so StrongEd using it if you're in 32K colours would suit me fine...

 is a RISC OS Usertribbles2 on 28/2/03 10:52AM
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tribbles: Fortunately, Vim's keybindings are configurable :) You can even configure it not to be modal. Google for "cream for vim" or similar.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 28/2/03 12:12PM
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nf: I'm still not convinced - I can't see any mention of automatic indentation (except for LISP in the Vim documentation).

I think I'd prefer to stick to Zap than move to Vim...

 is a RISC OS Usertribbles2 on 28/2/03 12:32PM
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There can be only one It is the God of editor-dom Zap

 is a RISC OS UserNodoid on 28/2/03 1:31PM
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The easy writing of modes is one reason why I'm looking to move to StrongED :-)

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 28/2/03 3:20PM
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How can any of you think StrongED is better than Zap? You're all SICK!

 is a RISC OS Userrpozz on 28/2/03 6:31PM
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Has anyone written a auto-indent for zap, ideally like Jed, hit tab, and it indents the current line to where it should be based on the last opening brace/bracket or keyword iirc.

And bah, who wants stronged when you can have Zap :)

 is a RISC OS UserNoMercy on 1/3/03 11:45AM
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If StrongEd used ZapRedraw I might be tempted to give it another go. Of course, I'd have to change the background colour to black :-) -- Spriteman.

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 2/3/03 12:40PM
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Yes, I can't understand anyone who can stand a white background in text editor.


 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 2/3/03 4:22PM
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There should be a C++ mode supplied with StrongED (there are one or two third party ones). Is there any way to get StrongED to choose the C mode when loading a C file like Zap does? -- Simon Wilson, Boulder, Colorado

 is a RISC OS Userksattic on 2/3/03 11:09PM
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D'oh, answering my own question now. Yes there is, you have to edit the ModeWhen file. -- Simon Wilson, Boulder, Colorado

 is a RISC OS Userksattic on 2/3/03 11:12PM
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What's wrong with a white background? I actually prefer white backgrounds because:

a) it's like paper

b) IMHO you can get a wider contrast of colours for different visual effects (such as syntax highlighting).

 is a RISC OS Usertribbles2 on 3/3/03 9:45AM
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I dunno why - I just find it easier to read. I even used to change !Edit's default settings to white on black before I used Zap.

Suppose it's just what you prefer. Your reason make a lot of sense.

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 3/3/03 4:01PM
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