Text Editors for Windows Followup

January 7th, 2007 by bill · No Comments

»A followup article to the Text Editors for Windows comparison we did several days ago.

Following up on the Text Editors for Windows post, I decided to upgrade UltraEdit and wrap in the UltraCompare bundle. PSPad and a couple Notepad replacements such as Notepad2 and EDXOR will remain on my system. I’ll also keep an eye on TextMate knockoffs e and InType.

→ No CommentsTags: Reviews · Software · Windows

Choose a Text Editor for Windows

January 6th, 2007 by bill · 13 Comments

»A comparison of several Windows text and code editors, including notepad replacements like TED and Notepad2, but also programmers editors like Ultraedit, InType, PsPad, Notepad++, EditPlus, Textpad, Crimson, jEdit, and Vim.

Windows ships with Notepad, a bare bones text editor that manages to be both handy and next to useless. So if you do any regular text editing you need something more, an editor that can reformat text, record macros, do syntax highlighting, that supports regular expressions in its search/replace dialog, or knows about ftp. Perhaps you need an editor that does code folding or that supports the concept of a multi-file project. Maybe you’ve watched the loopy Ruby On Rails screencasts and are intrigued by TextMate.

In the past and on various systems I have used a slew of editors, including emacs, vi, Brief, BBEdit, Crimson, and probably dozens of others. Years ago, I settled on UltraEdit for Windows and been using it since, upgrading now and then, but occasionally I look for alternatives. For instance, I am currently at UE Version 9.10 and am looking to upgrade to 12.20. It’s only twenty-five bucks to upgrade but is it still the best thing going? Are there more nimble, capable editors out there now? Of course, I’ve seen TextMate, occasionally used TextPad and Crimson, but know there are others.

I use Visual Studio 2005, and it has a nice code editor and is just fine for a full-on MS development undertaking, but waiting to load that IDE to edit a file is like waiting in line and going through security to take a plane from Dallas to Fort Worth. This is probably true of whatever IDE you use.

Update (Jan 8, 2006): This article touches on lightweight editors such as TED Notepad, Notepad2, TheGun, TopGun, QuickEdit, and EDXOR. It then does a drive-by on a couple Windows incarnations of TextMate before digging into beefier programmers’ editors, including PSPad, Notepad++, EditPlus, UltraEdit, TextPad, Crimson, jEdit, and Vim/gVim/WinVi. A few also-rans are mentioned at the end for good measure.

Notepad replacements

If you just want a little more than Notepad, but don’t need fancy features, there are some replacements that you might like.

TED Notepad is a decent Notepad replacement. It feels like the normal Notepad application except that it has lots more features in its menus. It’s free and worth checking out.

Notepad2 is a worthy Notepad replacement with some neat features, such as transparency, search and replace that supports regular expressions, syntax highlighting, bookmarks, column selections, bracket matching, and more.

From hutch, TheGun is a very lightweight text editor (6144 bytes) that is perfect if you want small; it is 1/10th the size of Notepad.exe that ships with Windows XP. A little larger (18732 bytes), Top Gun sports a few more features. Both are written in Assembler. QuickEdit is a programmer’s editor that might appeal to the more hardcore techies out there (and still small at 38,652 bytes). These are all “registry safe” programs.

Another tiny text editor is EDXOR, which is only 30720 bytes but contains transformation functions such as Reverse, Rot13, Qcypher, Base64, and others.

For lightweight editing, all of the above are fine; your specific needs and preferences will determine which is best for you.

Programmers Editors

TextMate

Yeah yeah, it’s great, it’s magical, it’s the greatest innovation since water. Unfortunately, if you want TextMate on Windows you will have to wait. There is no Windows variant and Allan Odgaard appears to have zero interest in creating one. On the bright side, however, some others are working on the TextMate-inspired e for Windows. Though it feels not-quite-there, it is promising; I find the milestone history and visual undo features particularly interesting (see the right side of the screenshot below). Context menus do not work, Alt keys don’t open the menus, and the cool directory-file sidecar that TextMate has seems to be missing. All of this is at first glance, so it all may be hidden away in some clever Macintosh idiom, but I didn’t find it.

There’s also InType, though nothing is available to download and try. You can get on their mailing list for info. From their website “Intype is a powerful and intuitive code editor for Windows with lightning fast response. It is easily extensible and customizable, thanks to support for scripting and native plug-ins. It makes development in any programming or scripting language quick and easy.

Update (Jan 8, 06): An alpha release of Intype is now available. So far it supports bundles and next to nothing else, except editing files. It indeed appears to be headed in the direction of TextMate, but lags a cut or two behind e. For example, there is no visual undo or history.

Less Snooty Options

So, you aren’t a TextMate groupie but you still want a good text editor. Relax, there are many from which to choose, even if you don’t want to spend money for a great editor.

Below is a quick overview of several Windows text editors and a screenshot of each. In each text has been selected and the right mouse button context menu is shown. Also, where project, code or clipboard explorers, or output windows are available, they are enabled.

PSPad

Free and packed with features, PSPad is an intriguing option. Currently at version 4.5.2, Its features include FTP support, projects, regular expressions, bracket and syntax highlighting, spell checking, macros, text difference, templates, HTML preview, hex editing, reformatting, column mode, code explorer, compiler and external tool integration, and more. It comes with the free version of TopStyle Lite for CSS editing.

The only apparent downside is a lack of code folding support. Since PSPad has a code explorer, it’s not that bad, but code folding would be great. If I’m overlooking it, please tell me how to enable folding.

Update (Jan 8, 2006): Further use of PSPad reveals some cursor oddities that give it an unfinished feel. Also the PSPad forums seem to indicate that the developer is having difficulty finding a solution to code folding, a much-requested feature by the PSPad user community. If you’re interested in these sorts of things, PSPad is written in Object Pascal.

Notepad++

Notepad++ supports macros, code folding, syntax highlighting, bracket highlighting, function completion, regular expression searching, bookmarks, plugins, launching in browsers, and more. It is currently at version 3.9 and was last updated in April of 2006.

Though it has a serene look to it, Notepad++ feels a little weird to me. It’s tough to put my finger on why, though, so it might work great for you.

EditPlus

Priced at $30, EditPlus is at version 2.30 (last update on 11/14/2006) and supports the usual cast of features, including macros, projects, FTP, code folding, syntax and bracket highlighting, spell checking, and so on.

UltraEdit

UltraEdit has been my editor of choice for years. Regularly updated and now at version 12.20, IDM products include UltraCompare, UltraEdit Studio, and UltraSentry. UltraEdit is about $50 (€ 38). UE supports syntax highlighting, code folding, FTP, sorting lines, emailing files, hex editing, macros, column mode, reformatting, HTML validation, projects, and on and on.

Besides the edit window, in the screenshot below the file explorer, output window, function explorer, and clipboard explorer are open.

UltraCompare, shown below, is a file compare utility that supports merging. A bundle with UltraEdit and UltraCompare is about $65 (€ 49).

TextPad

TextPad, currently at version 4.7.3, is a capable text editor with a decent feature set (such as macros) but it suffers from odd key mappings and having nothing special to recommend it. In addition, it is $30 (£16.50) and has not been updated since June 19, 2004. Some people like it, but I see no reason to recommend it. Sorry.

Crimson

Crimson Editor is another fine but outdated editor, not updated since fall of 2004. However, it is free, so if it does all you need, it isn’t bad. The last version was 3.70 and supports macros, templates, FTP, regular expression searching, and projects.

jEdit

Update (Jan 8, 2006): Loved by some and sporting some features, jEdit is slow and marred by its icky Java goodness. If you are fashionably rebellious or tied to Java, this might be a good choice. Otherwise, look elsewhere.

Vim/gVim

Update (Jan 8, 2006): vi lovers — you know who you are — will probably already know about this, but if not or if you like puzzles, give Vim or gVim a shot. Vim is a superset of the vi editor and gVim wraps a GUI around this obtuse textual masterpiece. (If Vim or gVim doesn’t do it for you but you still need your vi, give WinVi a shot.)

Still Others

Still other text editors exist for Windows.

Zeus is an editor and IDE that runs $45. It supports class browsing, CVS, VSS, and more.

SciTE is part of Scintilla and supports all the latest features.

EditPad Pro is yet another text editor and costs $49. A lite version is free.

EmEditor is another text editor with decent features available in Professional, Standard, and Free versions. The free version is pretty stripped-down.

Recommendations

Bottom line, I still like UltraEdit and may still upgrade, but PSPad has to be the best bang for the buck. It has earned a place on my system next to UltraEdit, and has to be the editor of choice in situations where $50 is too much to spend. In fact, if I did not already have an UltraEdit license (taking the upgrade price down to $25), I would just stick with PSPad.

Update (Jan 8, 2006): PSPad has me a bit worried (see above). A little flakiness with it is making that UltraEdit upgrade look more attractive.

→ 13 CommentsTags: Free · Reviews · Software · Windows

Gmail Chat Needs More Cowbell

October 14th, 2006 by bill · 25 Comments

»Use gmail's hidden emoticons, more cowbell, the devil, a slant mouth thing, and the squinty wince.

Update: Gmail chat has been updated with a tabbed smiley interface and new emoticons.

In addition to the standard Gmail Chat emoticons listed in a previous article here, some hidden smilies have turned up.

Whatchamuhcallit

They’ve added a cool equal, slantmouthy face =/.

Yeeesh, That Had To Hurt

If you wince, you need this one. >.<

Is Google Evil?

The Devil made them do it. }:-)

Pretty snazzy, and I wonder if similar ones exist. With a devil emoticon in the mix, an angel or halo would be cool. At least I hope there’s more reason for good over bad.

I got a fever and the only prescription is more cowbell.

More Cowbell! +/’\ is a great addition. See the video here.

Update: The cowbell +/’\ has been fixed. Tae Yang points out in a comment (not posted as it was left without a correct email address) that the cowbell emoticon was incorrect. WordPress converted the apostrophe to a right single quote. The correct cowbell is (plus) (slash) (apostrophe) (backslash). Thanks Tae. Leave your email next time.

First saw =/ and >.< in a comment here, then dug up more here.

Update: There are several new smileys, including the robot [:|] and the “poo” ~@~ thing. Check out the full list of Gmail chat emoticons.

→ 25 CommentsTags: Google · Tips

Security and Google Code Search

October 9th, 2006 by bill · No Comments

If you use WordPress be careful. An example Google Code Search search going around is “username file:wp-config.php” which happily displays username and passwords in WordPress config files… if they’re in compressed archives or a publicly accessible directory.

Same goes for other configuration or settings files. For instance, connection strings in web.config files (connection string file:web.config), Movable Type passwords (file:mt-db-pass.cgi), keygen name serial, backdoor passwords (backdoor.*password), MySQL root passwords (file:config.inc.php “MySQL password” root, etc.

Of course, one could search for code vulerable to cross-site scripting, SQL Injection (lang:php mysql_query\(.*\$_(GET|POST|COOKIE|REQUEST).*\)), remote code execution (lang:php (include|require)\s*(\(|\s).*\$_(GET|POST)), header injection, and on and on.

Spammers can cull email addresses from code with a simple code search as well ([a-z]*@[a-z]*.com)

So what have we learned?

  • Do not put passwords in public code, including zipped code archives.
  • Be more diligent to protect against SQL Injection and similar exploits. I.e. do not trust user input of any sort.
  • Do not put email addresses in public code.
  • In general, keep your eyes and ears open for security exploits and protect against them.

We can’t be perfect, but we ought to try.

Seen here, here, and here.

→ No CommentsTags: Best Practices · Google · PHP · Programming · Searching · Security

Google Code Search

October 8th, 2006 by bill · No Comments

Google Labs has released a Code Search tool (google.com/codesearch).

You can limit the results to languages (lang:), particular licenses (license:), files (file:), and packages (package:). Regular expressions are supported as well.

Language support appears to be limited to the following: Ada, ASP, Assembly, Basic, C, C++, C#, Eiffel, Erlang, Fortran, Java, JavaScript, JSP, Lex, Limbo, Lisp, Lua, Makefile, Mathematica, Matlab, Objective C, Perl, PHP, PostScript, Python, Ruby, Scheme, Shell, Smalltalk, SQL, Tcl, Troff, and Yacc. Wonder why no COBOL, SNOBOL, PL1, Pascal, JCL, etc.? Besides “they’re old languages.” Unfortunately, not everyone is hip and happening, and programmers struggling to support old systems are likely to need a good resource like this. Google, can you add some languages?

Anyhow, support for regular expressions is welcome. The licenses you can use in the searches include: Aladdin Public License, Artistic License, Apache License, Apple Public Source License, BSD License, Common Public License, GNU General Public License, GNU Lesser General Public License, Historical Permission Notice and Disclaimer, IBM Public License, Lucent Public License, MIT License, Mozilla Public License, NASA Open Source Agreement, Python Software Foundation License, Q Public License, Sleepycat License, and the Zope Public License.

Some example searches:

Seen here.

→ No CommentsTags: Google · Programming · Searching

dgp Bumptop Demo

July 8th, 2006 by bill · No Comments

This dgp technology demo is great. However, since the symptoms it addresses (organizing many disparate documents on a desktop space), the real world usefulness is questionable; the real solution seems to be better organization and a clear desktop. Nevertheless, the demo is still cool. Very very cool.

dbp is the dynamic graphics program at University of Toronto and the BumpTop project comes from Anand Agarawala and Ravin Balakrishnan.

Via and Via

→ No CommentsTags: Software · Tech News · Technology

Gmail Chat Fun

July 6th, 2006 by bill · 187 Comments

»Liven up your Gmail Chat sessions with formatting and animated emoticons.

Update: For the full list of Gmail chat emoticons, including the new category-four smileys and the new robot smiley, see Gmail Chat Smileys.

Currently Gmail Chat does not support formatting like Yahoo or others do. But there are some things you can do to spice up the experience, such as it is. Some of this applies to Gtalk, some doesn’t.
Previously, we’ve covered bold, italics, and special characters (like ♫♥☼). We also noted that Google added an incoming-chat sound and the ability to add a picture to a Gmail contact.

However, here are some more Gmail Chat features.

To recap the text formatting…

Italics – you can surround text with an underscore (“_”) to italicize it. For example “_this_ is important” displays as “this is important”

Bold – if you surround text with astericks (“*”) it will display as bold. “*This* is important” displays as “this is important”

Update (6/6/2009): Strike through – surround text with hypens (“-”) to cross it out. “-This- is crossed out” will display as “This is crossed out”.

Special Characters

You can copy-paste special characters from charmap (in Windows) or another character map application or website into your messages. Try copy-pasting any of the following characters into a Gmail chat window (or status, see below):
Whoops! A WordPress upgrade somehow munged these characters. I’ll work on recreating.

Status

If any of your Gmail contacts are online, they can be displayed to the left of the browser window, with an icon and chat status message displayed as well. Contact status icons can be either grey, red, orange, or green indicating that the contact is offline, busy, idle, or online and available (respectively).

However, if the contact has set a status message, it will be displayed below the contact name. This status message can also be formatted (bold and/or italic) and can include special characters. For example, you might use ♫♪ to indicate the obvious.

Further, you can include a domain in your status and it will hyperlink automatically. Type techrageo.us as your status and it becomes techrageo.us all by itself.

Gmail chat emoticons Emoticons

Gmail’s Chat has slick little animated emoticons. No, not the ubiquitous yellow smiley faces, but a clever modern take on the original text emoticons.

And no, unfortunately the emoticons don’t work in the status messages. Come on, Google. I can \m/ rock out in chat, but I have to ♫♪ in my status message. Oh, well, I guess that’s okay.

Update: Google has updated Gmail, and it includes a new popup smiley interface and new emoticons.
Update: There are even more (well, a few more) smileys, including the robot [:|] and the “poo” thing ~@~. See the full list of emoticons in Gmail chat.
Update: Strikeout text is now supported. See above..

Gmail Integration

Say you receive an email and want to send a quick reply. If the person to whom you’re replying is online, you can also reply to their email message via chat.

Also, your chat history is saved. On the left side of the Gmail browser window, a couple items below Inbox is Chats. Click that to get a history of your chats. If you “Go Offline with…” a contact, that chat is not saved. Also, you can turn off the feature that saves chats.

Other Resources

Gmail Chat Help is a good overview of the features

→ 187 CommentsTags: Google · Tips

Tutorial: The Gimp

July 5th, 2006 by grant · 8 Comments

For this tutorial you will need a copy of The Gimp. You can download it here for Windows, Linux and OS X.

For any project you need a goal, so for this tutorial our goal will be to create a fantasy image of a far away galaxy. Cheesy? Yes, but also very easy if you know the right tricks. Soon you’ll be creating stars and planets and you’ll get a warm feeling all over. That is nature’s way of telling you that you’ve been sitting at the computer too long and you need to change your pants. Hopefully this won’t take that long.

New Gimp Image - Large
First, start up The Gimp and select New from the File menu. You will get a window that will popup and look similar to what you see on the right. Let’s create a 1600×1200 image (any size will do though) and fill it with the Foreground color (this will be black unless you have changed something). You can change the other stuff when you know what you are doing, but for this example we will just leave them at the defaults.

After you click OK the program will replace that window with a large window that is completely black in the middle. There you have it…Space.

Mission accomplished.

Okay, maybe that was a little too easy. We’d better add some more stuff or people will think that space is a really boring, empty place. Which it is, but we don’t want them to think that. So lets start with some stars.

New Gimp Layer
In order to create some stars we first need to create a new layer in our image. Now The Gimp should have started up a Layers panel when it started, but if it didn’t or if you closed it you can re-open it by going to the File menu, then to Dialogs and then to Layers. Now you should be seeing something similar to the image on the left (except without my ugly arrow). Don’t worry if yours has some extra stuff at the bottom, that is normal, but we won’t be using it right now so it is safe to ignore temporarily.

Click on the New button (at the bottom of the arrow in the image to the left) and click OK to the dialog box it pops up. This will create a new layer on your image. The layer is currently blank, so you can’t see anything in your image but you can see the new layer entry added in the Layers dialog.

The “New Layer” entry should be highlighted blue, but if it isn’t you can click on it to turn it blue. The layer that is highlighted is the current layer and any changes we make to the image will only happen to this layer. This will make more sense in a minute. For now though, just select the “New Layer” and go back to your image screen (the window that is all black in the middle). From here you can click on Filters, then Noise, then Hurl. This will allow us to “hurl” some stars onto our Space. When the dialog box pops up asking you for the specifics you should click the Randomize checkbox and move the Randomization % down to 5%. Then hit OK.

Then you will notice that you have a bunch of multicolored dots on your nice Space image. I know what you are thinking (or should be): “Wait a minute….there’s too many and their colors are all too bright to be stars.” And you are right, but that is why we put the stars onto a new layer. Now go back to your layer dialog box and notice the nice Opacity slider right above your “New Layer”. If you move that down to about 50% you will get something that looks more like the fake space you wanted to create.

Okay let’s put some funky Space Colors ™ into this image like you see in all the NASA photos. Go ahead and create a new layer and select it. Then go back to your image and go to Filters then Render then Clouds then Plasma. A dialog box will pop up that has a funky “hippy” image in it. Keep clicking New Seed until you get a hippy image with a lot of colors in it (this really doesn’t matter much if you want to accept the hippy image that originally popped up). The turbulence should be left at about 1.0. Click OK when you have everything how you like it.

This probably turned your nice space image into a giant hippy image. This is what space looks like on acid. Or so I’ve heard. Now go back to your layer dialog and change the Opacity on this layer down to about 20% or so. Now you have some nice Space Colors ™. But wouldn’t it be nice if our stars were just a little brighter? Go back to your layers dialog and select your hippy layer and click the arrow pointing down (near the button you click to create a new layer). Now your hippy layer is below the stars and thus the stars are brighter. If that didn’t make much of a difference then you can always lower the Opacity on your hippy layer some more.

Now lets create a supernova right in the middle somewhere. This is really easy. Create a new layer, select it, go to your image and on the menu go to Filters then to Light Effects then to SuperNova. The defaults will probably be okay but you can safely mess around with them without screwing anything up if you want.

Now would be a good time to save, if you are satisfied with your image so far. Just save it as myspace.jpg and take all the defaults.

Gimp Selection Tool
Now we have a star, how about some planets? Okay, you know the drill…new layer. Now on your main Gimp screen you should select the Round Select tool (see the image to the right for help). On your space image you can now click and drag and create little circles and elipses. If you hold down the SHIFT key (on your keyboard) while dragging it will always create a perfect circle. Make a circle somewhere you would like to put a planet.

Now on the main Gimp screen select the Gradient Fill tool (the green and white box three spaces below the circle select tool in my image to the right). Just below this box there are two boxes with colors in them (probably black and white, unless you have changed them). Click on the black color to change it. Just click somewhere in the rainbow of colors then make it lighter or darker in the large box next to the rainbow. Pick red for your first planet. Now click OK and go back to the main Gimp window. There is a little double sided arrow pointing at both of the colors, red and white. If you click on this it will switch the main color to white and make the color you picked (red) the secondary color. Do this now.

Now below the colors on the main Gimp screen there is a box that is labeled Shape and has the word Linear in it. Click this box and change it to Radial. Now on your Space image click inside your selected circle and drag the mouse toward your supernova. You won’t have to drag very far, probably about the width of your planet will be fine. I find it also helps to start near the edge on which the supernova shines. Don’t worry if it doesn’t turn out very good, you can keep doing it over and over again and it will not mess anything up. Just leave the planet selected when you are done.

I know what you are thinking…that doesn’t look like a planet. It looks like a pool ball in space. Now you are really on acid, man. That may be true, but we aren’t finished yet. Create YAL (yet another layer) and on your image menu go to Filters then Render then Clouds then Solid Noise. When the box pops up, click “New Seed” and then OK. If you left your planet selected as instructed then you should have a very gray and ugly planet now, but I think you know what to do. Go to the Layers dialog and reduce the Opacity! Reducing it to about 35% works well for me and gives the planet a little atmosphere. Pun intended.

Now do the same thing a couple of times, add some moons around the planets (done exactly like the planets) and you’ve created your own solar system. Wouldn’t your mother be proud of you now?

My Space Picture

→ 8 CommentsTags: Modify · Software · Tips

Mass Comment Reply

June 22nd, 2006 by bill · 4 Comments

»Instead of simply deleting spam, or reporting it to Askimet, we decided to actually reply to it.

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Micaelel, thanks for the links. Something happened (again) and I had to fix them up a bit (again).

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→ 4 CommentsTags: Free · Site News · Web design

Google Spreadsheet

June 6th, 2006 by bill · 1 Comment

Not exactly an Excel-killer yet, but here comes Google Spreadsheet. It is interesting; sharing spreadsheets, import/export, lots of functions, and so on. If you’ve been losing sleep waiting for it, well, now you can rest easy. Otherwise, okay, another Google labs thingy.

You have to sign up for an invitation at this point.

Via Google Blog.

→ 1 CommentTags: Free · Software · Tech News