|Free Software for DOS >|
Text Editors 1 1
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|> GENERAL EDITORS|
|BORLAND TURBO VISION (TV) EDITORS|
|> SMALL / TINY EDITORS|
|> WORD PROCESSORS|
|> ADVANCED EDITORS|
|> TEXT MODE GRAPHICS|
For ASCII charts, see Text Utils - 2. For screen rulers, see the Screen & Video page.
Brief comparative comments on a few text editors listed on these two pages.
"User-friendly" editors: Multi-Edit Lite (older, handles large files, mult. document interface, mouse compatible, multiple undo, text drag/drop; quirky directory browser); NE and EditV also possess familiar mult. document ("Borland") interfaces but handle smaller (<64K) files; NE includes English spell checker, EditV has right button popup menus); PEDIT (familiar MS-DOS EDIT interface, Win9x LFN and clipboard [copy to] support, English speller and thesaurus; loads entire files no larger than avail. conv. memory, single file editing only).
"Friendly" editors with some horsepower: SETEDIT - FTE - FED - CONNECT shell's integrated editor. All load mult. files, mouse/pulldown menus, support Win9x LFNs, handle big files, many advanced functions, intended mainly for programmers but have relatively gentle learning curves. SETEDIT - CONNECT - FED - VDE copy to and paste from the MS Windows clipboard.
Others: The most word processor-like editor below is the superb VDE but with limited mouse support, it is not really a mouse user's editor; real mode, handles larger (<600K) files, good macro support. Under all versions of Windows it cuts / copies from, and pastes to, the clipboard. VBX edits text and Hex, draws lines and boxes using any of the ASCII characters, and can call VDE for expanded text editing, printing, and access to the Windows clipboard. SLED is an old but excellent small (17K) editor. Vim, Elvis, and JED are excellent power editors with steeper learning curves for the novice (but worth the effort)...and then there is GNU Emacs, which can do just about anything except shrink itself. JASSPA MicroEmacs employs a more GUI-like interface. Esoteric but interesting: SEDT is capable of loading very large files in real mode (default, up to 10MB using disk or EMS); THE can employ "shadowing" (= slicing / folding, e.g., show only lines with matching text), and uses REXX macro scripting.
WIN9X LFN support under Win9x: CONNECT - VDE - PEDIT - VIM (32-bit ver.) - SETEDIT, FTE - FED - TDE (32-bit ver.) - THE (32-bit ver.) - JED - ZED - Pico - nano - GNU Emacs.
HTML syntax highlighting and/or obvious tagging capabilities: FTE (syntax-highlight, html tag pulldown menu), TDE (s-highlight), FED (s- highlight), Vim (s-highlight), Elvis (html mode display, with local hyperlink navigation), JED (s- highlight, html_mode command bar), ZED (s-highlight), SETEDIT (tag "pseudo-macros", s-highlight), and GNU Emacs (s-highlight / pulldown tag menu), JASSPA MicroEmacs (s-hilight, HTML rendering w/ local hyperlink navigation).
Screenshots (png format) of selected editor interfaces:
|Connect||Multi-window (TV) interface, drag 'n drop between windows|
|EditV||Multi-window (TV) interface|
|ELVIS 1||HTML, rendered|
|ELVIS 2||HTML, source|
|GNU Emacs||Split windowing, w/ pulldown menu|
|FED||Customizable pop-up menu|
|FTE||HTML tag pulldown menu|
|JASSPA MicroEmacs||Split windowing, syntax highlight, pop-up menu|
|JED||Split windowing, syntax highlight|
|Multi-Edit Lite||Multiwindow interface|
|SETEDIT||Multi-window (TV) interface, syntax highlight|
|SLED 1||Help screen|
|SLED 2||Editing screen|
|VDE||Character formatting menu|
|VIM||Syntax highlight, directory browser window|
|Zed||With "pullover" menu|
VDE - Excellent text editor designed for word processing.
* * * * *
[added 1997, updated 2010-01-10]
"This may be the finest piece of word processing code ever written." – John Dvorak, PC Magazine (April 24 1990).
Few die-hard GUI users will probably be attracted to VDE's editing style – but anyone who's tried it will certainly appreciate the hard work and creativity that's been invested in the development of VDE. It is a very mature and stable product (under development since 1987) that offers many text mode word processing features. It's quite easy to use – but if you rely on a mouse to do all your work (e.g., to "pulldown those menus"), this may not be your program. You can use a mouse for tasks like marking text blocks and cursor positioning. Commands are available as WordStar key shortcuts, which some people love and some people don't, and from a menu bar. Extensive macro capability. Runs under DOS, DOS shells (including DesqVIEW, which it recognizes), and Win3.x/9x/Me/NT/2K/XP. When running under Windows 3.1x/9x, it copies to & pastes from the clipboard. Coded in assembly language, the executable file is remarkably small (80K) for the tasks this program can perform. Includes excellent documentation. Formerly shareware – now freeware (but still copyrighted by the author).Text editor features:
Author: Eric Meyer (2009).
2010-01-10: version 1.96A (2009-11) available.
VDE information and downloads
Download vde196a.zip (165k) from FSFD
Multi-Edit Lite (MeLite) - Multi-window editor, mouse/menu driven, and edits large files.
* * * * 1/2
Recommended for the Windows/MAC/GUI crowd...
Finding a freeware editor for DOS which is mouse compatible, menu driven, and handles very large files is difficult (there is EDIT that comes packaged with DOS 6.x, but it lacks important features [e.g., undo]). Nearly all the freeware, CUA compliant DOS editors are similar clones derived from the same TFileEditor object included with Borland's Turbo Vision (e.g., NE), and they won't load files bigger than 64K (but see SETEDIT and Connect). A kind reader of these pages has pointed to this "Lite" version of Multi-Edit. The text mode, multiple window interface looks and behaves much like NE but there's much more under the skin:Features:
Notes: Frustrating quirk – The file listing in the File Open/Load dialog is sorted by the second character of the filename – not the first. Instead of scrolling the list, you can find a file more quickly by typing the first few characters of the filename.
*SHAREWARE STATUS NOTE: Multi-Edit Lite for DOS is shareware. Quote from the docs: "If you like and use Multi-Edit Lite, we request a donation of $40 (or whatever you feel is appropriate)." [our emphasis]. Current Multi-Edit and Multi-Edit Lite for Windows are free for 30-day trial only.
Author: Multi Edit Software, Inc. [formerly American Cybernetics, Inc.] (1994).
Pedit - MS-DOS EDIT-like editor with added features, Eng. spell checker, thesaurus.
* * * * 1/2
[added 1997-06, updated 2005-04-04]
Overall, Pedit is one of the more versatile yet user-friendly editors listed here. Although a programmer's editor, Pedit's design also incorporates a selection of word processing features (e.g., a spell checker and thesaurus – English only). Superficially similar to MS-DOS's EDIT (pulldown menus, dialogs, mouse compatible), Pedit is vastly superior in most respects. Loads files as large as available conventional memory. EXE size=about 300K. A smaller (100K) version is included which lacks the speller / thesaurus (PEDITLGT).Some features, from the docs:
Author: Paul Brand / Goldshell Digital Media, Inc., Hong Kong (1999).
Download pedit.zip (330K).
IE - Mouse and menu driven editor handles large files.
A menu driven, multi ("split") window editor that handles big files. External directory browser includes some file management commands. The 32-bit main program uses extended memory.Feature list, from the docs:
Notes: Requires 80386+, VGA+. Text search and replace commands available from keys but not pulldown menu. Can't scroll horizontally with mouse.
Package includes secondary 16-bit program, opens maximum four files with total size under 50K, maximum four windows open in a file.
Author: Ian Gay, Canada (1999).
Download ie102.zip (157K).
Pico (Pine Composer) - Pine emailer's text editor.
[added 1998-09-13, updated 2005-04-16]
Pico is a familiar friend to users of the Unix Pine email program, developed at the University of Washington (US). A unique yet easy-to-learn editor, it includes mouse support (text selection and command invocation). Navigation commands are not difficult to master – a command menu is always visible at the bottom of the screen.
Pico was not designed to be a full-featured text editor (e.g., single file editing only, no text replace command in this version) but it can be used for simple word processing tasks (automatically wraps text at right margin, paragraph justification command). Can use a spellchecker such as Ispell. Handles large files.
Hints: To select text with mouse, double click to mark start of
block and single click at end of block. To see startup options, enter:
The 32-bit DJGPP port is Win9x LFN compatible, requires 80386+ and a DOS Protected Mode Interface (CWSDPMI or other). Package also includes Pilot, a separate file & directory browser that calls Pico for editing.
A 16-bit DOS port is available in PC-PINE v3.96 packages.
Author: Tim Van Holder (1997).
|16-bit||See PC-PINE v3.96|
nano (Nano's ANOther editor) - Open source, enhanced clone of Pico.
[added 2000-12-14, updated 2005-07-17]
Nano is intended to be a 'compatible but enhanced' clone of Pico. This Win32 console port is based on the Linux original. Some advantages over Pico: GNU autoconf support, truly free license (open source, GNU GPL), goto-line # (no command-line flag needed), case sensitive search, interactive search and replace, regexp s/r support, specify tab width... and more.
Runs under Win9x/NT+ with Internet Explorer and a Linux emulation layer (cygwin1.dll, included). Tested under Win98 and NT, it might or might not work under Win95.
Author: Chris Allegretta et al. (2004). Suggested by Pio Del Real.
Download nano-1.2.4.zip (437K).
Online docs: Manual - Command summary - NANORC - configuration guide.
Go to the GNU nano Homepage for more info Get source and older versions, as well as newer versions for Linux & other OSes, at GNU nano downloads.
|BORLAND TURBO VISION (TV) EDITORS|
The editors in this family essentially derive from the same TV programming code and share a user-friendly, text-mode, multiple-window interface with pulldown menus and mouse support. GUI users will likely be attracted to these editors. Most seem to be restricted to handling smaller files (<64K, and line lengths around 250 char max). There are many of these clones floating around – a few unique ones are listed here.
Also see: The similar-looking, but much more powerful, SETEDIT, a programmer's editor with a TV interface, and the Connect shell's impressive TV-style editor.
NE (NO EDLIN) - Editor with multiple windows, mouse support, and a spell checker.
* * * 1/2
NE is a Turbo Vision-derived editor that's a good choice as a simple ASCII word processor or EDIT.COM replacement. Although it can only load files smaller than 64K, it has an undo function and offers numerous text-formatting features. EXE size: 87K + speller, 367K.Strengths:
NE is also part of the GDSPELL package – get that if you need extra spell-checking power.
Author: G.D. Davis (1995); distributed by GDSoft.
Download ne300b.zip (360K).
EditV - Multiple window text editor with mouse support, smaller files.
* * * *
[added 1998-08-16, updated 1999-04-03].
Intended primarily as a programmer's editor but doubles as a simple-to-use general editor. EXE size, 211K; help file size, 130K.Some unique features:
Author: Bob Ferguson, Netherlands (1999). Suggested by Tomas Brunclik.
1999-04-03: v4.1.Download editv41u.zip, in English (181K). See the author's page for a Dutch-language version.
More in these pages from Bob Ferguson.
|SMALL / TINY EDITORS|
[updated 2005-12-09, links updated 2010-08-31]
In a software age where bigger is...well, bigger, this hand-picked collection of size-optimized DOS text editors demonstrates just what can be packed into a little bit of computer code. Included here are small editors suitable for emergency disks, computers lacking disk space / memory, or quick, portable text editing. They're also just plain fun to explore. All have unique key commands, quirks, and surprises.
|1.||Terse||-||Tiny text editor with search/replace, undo.|
|2.||EZEDIT||-||4K dual file text editor.|
|3.||SuperTed||-||Tiny text editor with word wrap, file import. Based on PC Mag's TED.|
|4.||E||-||Tiny, friendly text editor for simple word processing.|
|5.||TM (Tiny Emacs)||-||4K text editor w/ Emacs key bindings, macros, multi-undo.|
|6.||Tiny Editor (T)||-||Small (<10K), customizable, multi-file text editor. DOS & OS/2 versions.|
|7.||SLED (Sam's Little Editor)||-||Small text editor with big features.|
|8.||SHH ED||-||Small text editor, limited mouse support, directory browser.|
|9.||Swift Programmer's Editor||-||Small, friendly text editor. Help files in English & Russian.|
|File load||C||C L||C L||C L||C L||C L||C L||C B||C B|
|Mark modes||S||C L||S||L||S||S||L S||S||L S|
|R/W Unix txt||y||R||n||n||y||n||y||R||n|
|Shell to DOS||y||y||n||y||n||y||y||n||y|
|Author(s)||J. Gil, Israel (1992, 1994)||Craig Hessel (1996)||Tom Kihlken; Tony Whyman, UK (1993, 1995)||David Nye (1991)||Brian H. Kelley (1994)||Tim Baldwin / IBM, UK (1993)||Sam Wilmott, Canada (1987)||Sverre H. Huseby, Norway (1992)||Alexander Safonenkov, Russia (1993).|
|Key and notes:||
|v1.2, basic package
v1.51f, 3 additional editors and tools
|EZEDIT||ezedit20.zip||(35K)||Includes ASM source|
|SuperTed||superted.zip (v 1.01, 1993) or sted105.zip (v1.05, 1995)||(33K)||Includes ASM source|
|E||e14.zip||(38K)||Includes ASM source|
|T (Tiny Editor)||tinyed.zip||(76K)|
|Sled||sled.zip||(33K)||With freeware info in docs|
Also see: VDE, above.
Breeze - DOS Word Processor.
[added 2003-05-18, updated 2004-06-30]
Breeze is an award winning, easy to learn word processor. Formerly shareware now freeware.
"Features: pop-up hypertext help system,.. text to .EXE converter... multi-windows/files... clipboard,... mail-merge/form letters, scientific calculator... full block operations including column blocks, powerful macro functions... execute other programs and any DOS commands from within the editor..."
Author: Kevin Solway, Australia (1995-98).
Download breeze56.zip (310K).
Get more info and other downloads at Solway's Software Page.
PcWord - Word processor with low resource requirements, handles large files.
[added 2000-07-05, updated 2004-06-30]
From the docs: "A fast, compact, flexible Text-Processor; Uses HyperText functions to facilitate links for Table of Contents and Index, with automatic page numbering."
A feature-rich text mode word processor. Unique help system requires a little study for efficient use. Loads multiple documents. Appears to handle files as large as available conventional memory. Several video modes supported; mouse support. Print drivers included. EXE size=120K, will run on an XT. Under development since late 1980s (?) and formerly distributed as shareware. Part of the talifree.zip package, still available. Hints: ESC toggles menu bar. ALT-S to change settings.
Author: Andrew Sprott / Talisoft Freeware, UK (2000). Suggested by Jon-Egil Korsvold.
Download pcword.zip from FSFD (240K)
or get talisoft.zip which also includes PcKey and Chart
Easy Word - Word processor with a mix of good features and limitations.
[added 2003-11-01, updated 2005-12-09]
This program has bounced back and forth between being paid shareware and freeware.
Major limitation: "This ease of use has been achieved by restricting output to fixed pitch at 10 or 12 characters per inch on A4 or Letter size paper."
Author: Easy Software Ltd., UK (1998).
Download ew104.zip (748K).
MS Word - Free word processor for DOS & OS/2.
[added 2004-10-10, updated 2005-03-11, links updated 2010-09-03]
MS Word v5.5 for DOS & OS/2 1.x is free, so here it is, in three languages. Packages include standalone format translators – Word<>DCA, RTF<>DCA, DOS<>Word, & more. The UK English version has the largest selection of printer drivers, for all of its supported code pages.
Author: Microsoft (1991).
|English (UK)||word55_en.exe||(3.4MB)||CP 437S, 850, 850S, 863|
|English (US)||wd55e.zip||(3.2MB)||CP 850|
|French||word55_fr.exe||(4.1MB)||CP 850, 863|
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