Re: [dev] Is there a text editor following the UNIX philosophy?

From: Daniel Littlewood <>
Date: Sat, 12 Feb 2022 08:33:41 +0000

Thanks for the suggestions everyone. Acme looks extremely neat. Mouse
chording is a strange concept (which doesn't play nicely with my
laptop mouse), but the idea of building an IDE around customised short
shell commands is really appealing. As for text editing specifically,
the idea of piping a buffer through sed rather than a custom
implemented search-and-replace utility is really interesting. Ditto
spell checking. Compared with a vim-like editor, navigating through a
buffer seems much more painful - but perhaps I haven't found the right
strategy yet. The lack of syntax highlighting, and the ugly GUI (which
can't be run in console mode) are unfortunate.

About syntax highlighting in particular, my naive suggestion would be
to constantly pipe the input file/buffer through a program which
decorates it with appropriate ANSI colour codes, which could then be
interpreted by your preferred reader. This sounds absurd in terms of
performance, but I don't understand how implemented syntax
highlighters do anything different - presumably new tokens can make
pretty much arbitrary changes to the underlying syntax tree, and yet
vim (for example) will re-highlight an entire file quite happily.

Regarding "can this be done" - I can't be sure. But for "is this even
useful" - surely yes? I happen to have syntax highlighting in my text
editor. Why not in my shell/terminal/pager? Why should they implement
them differently? I happen to have tab completion in bash, and with a
vim plugin. Why are they unconnected?

For what it's worth (I know this is not particularly fashionable) -
I'm much more interested in separating separable features than
implementing the same feature set in less code. You may be right that
these are not really separable features, but if they *are* separable,
then it's not persuasive to me that they can be implemented in a small
number of lines.

All the best,
Received on Sat Feb 12 2022 - 09:33:41 CET

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