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ED for Windows Current Release V4

Version 4 Enhancement Highlights

ED for Windows Version 4 was first released in mid 2001 and is a major rewrite of ED for Windows V3.x with a broad range of new features and enhancements. ED V4 builds on our strong reputation of designing and building first class editing tools. To keep ED at the forefront and meet the ever demanding needs of our user base we deliver regular updates. With this continual release cycle we deliver more and more of what you our customers need in a power packed programmer's editor. Make sure you have a close look at our Top 11 Features list along with the screens shots to get a quick feel for what is on offer in V4. Then download our Free Trial and experience the many great new features in V4 first hand.

Highlights of Version 4 include:

  • Project support greatly simplifies working with related sets of files. Microsoft VC++ Projects can be opened and used in ED.
  • Our new Source Database tracks every function, class, subroutine etc, and lets you navigate around large complex projects with ease. Right click on any function call to jump to its definition. Use the Class View to go to any class, function etc. See the name of the function you're currently in. Use Regular Expressions to search the database to quickly find that elusive bit of code. For C/C++ users right click to jump between a function declaration and its definition. Simply add files to your project and they appear in the database. The database is updated in a background thread as you're editing so it is always up to date.
  • Extensive use of multi-threading so complex tasks can run in the background without interfering with what you're doing.
  • Completely new File Difference Analysis which clearly shows what's changes have been made to files. V4 preview release users have told this is easily the best file comparison tool around!
  • New Style Sheets and Language Setup make it easier to work with existing languages and support new ones.
  • Support for more languages including PHP and PL/SQL.
  • Enhanced language sensitive editing capabilities.
  • The Last change stamp is now configured as part of Style Sheet setup. No more editing of ED extension language code. A code template can be used to add the initial last change stamp.
  • Modeless Find, Replace and Find in Files with a new and much improved regular expression search engine. Searches are considerably faster.
  • Support for multiple Regular expression dialects including VC++, Posix and native ED. Popup menu for easy selection of RE operators. 
  • Find in Files are fully multithreaded and fast. You can search within a project or across directories on disk.
  • Include file access and lookup has been enhanced. A Toolbar combo box lists all of the include files in the current file and selecting one opens it. Include file search paths are specified as part of each Project. You can quickly switch between a source file and its include file. Include file History is accessible in the File|Open dialog.
  • Completely new Toolbars and Toolbar customization. Add new toolbars and buttons, create your own bitmaps, assign any sequence of commands to a button, change button styles between combo box and drop down list, set your own button tooltips.
  • Easier and more flexible configuration and customization.
  • Improved Macro capabilities. You can now record Menu and Toolbar commands as well as keystroke commands. Shift+cursor keys can now be recorded. Macros are now portable and can be easily edited.
  • New Print engine with support for color printers and Print Preview.
  • Help file lookup in 3rd party help files now works with HTML Help files as well as WinHelp.
  • New User interface with Splitter windows, Docked and floating windows, Document Tab bar, Full Screen support.
  • New GUI Ruler with markers and vertical lines for checking text alignment and measuring columns.
  • New Parameter Assistant pops up tooltips showing the parameters required for functions.
  • Mouse wheel support.
  • Enhanced keyboard support lets you use any combination of Alt+Shift+Ctrl and use any key on the keyboard. Keys like Ctrl+I and TAB are now treated as separate keys.
  • Keyboard customization has been simplified, with changes taking effect immediately the keyboard file is saved.
  • Enhanced Menu capabilities. Menu items can issue a series of commands, along with parameters. Nested menus can be used.
  • New Windows XP Style menus.
  • File and line size limits have been extended. Files can now have up to 2,100 million lines.
  • Full UNC support and resolution of Samba issues in previous ED releases.
  • PATH and Environment variables can be specified when when running Compilers.
  • Adding Compiler error tracking support is now much easier and is done through a  configuration file using regular expressions.
  • Additions to the Extension Language and a new Compiler.
  • Drag and drop text across files and applications.
  • Enhanced File Open dialog.
  • Direct access to the Windows Explorer context menu. Email files, zip them up etc.
  • New docking Files window which gives Windows Explorer style file access.
  • Line number display in the Text Bar.
  • DDE Interface enables other applications to drive ED. eg. Progress.
  • New on line manual in HTML Help format.
  • ... and so much more.

Version 4.01 Enhancement Highlights in Detail

ED for Windows Version 4 has been a long time in the making but we are confident you will agree that the wait has been worthwhile. We have always strived to make ED not only powerful and full-featured but easy to use at the same time. There is little point having a ton of features if they are difficult to use. Unfortunately, this basic point seems to have been missed in the development of so many software products.

As part of the Version 4 development we have examined every area of ED, taking into account how functions are used, what we can do to further simplify operations, and going over all of the feedback you have provided. At the same time we have found ways to implement the new functionality that you want, without sacrificing the power and ease of operation that you've previously enjoyed.

OK. Enough waffle! Let's have a look at some of the new stuff in ED Version 4.

This release of ED starts with a new 32-bit architecture and builds on that to provide the many improvements that you've asked for. These are some of the improvements that ED Version 4 will deliver:

This is not an exhaustive list of features for ED Version 4. Also note that most of this was written back in 2000 and early 2001 and we've come a long way since then. 

Make sure you also look at our Top 11 Features list and screen shots.

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New Win 32 Architecture

The Win 32 world requires ED to wear a new face, and to support the new face ED requires a new architecture.

Document View Architecture

ED for Windows Version 4 is written in C++ using Visual C++, the Microsoft Foundation Classes (MFC) and uses the Document View Architecture (DVA).

DVA is based on the Model View Controller (MVC) architecture which provides a clean separation between the document, its view and controller, where the controller is the command-input mechanism e.g. mouse, keyboard, menus.

DVA enables multiple views of a document. In an editor this would be the same document displayed in multiple windows, or multiple views using splitters in the same window.

By isolating the controller you remove all hard wired assumptions of what specific keys do and enable flexible end user keyboard, menu and toolbar configuration. MFC includes the controller with the view, but ED provides its own controller to remove this limitation and adhere to the MVC architecture.

DVA is an elegant solution to the real world problem of viewing and managing data. In ED it provides a clean separation of tasks and enables us to deliver more functionality with less overhead. It also simplifies adding new functionality in the future and helps to minimize adversely impacting on the existing code base.

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Docking Windows

One of the more significant new features in Version 4 is the use of the docking windows architecture. Docking windows group related sets of views and documents together into separate  windows. These windows can then be docked to any edge of the application frame or floated anywhere on the screen.

V4Full.gif (21875 bytes)

In the screen shot above Compiler Output, Debug and Find in Files are in one docked window,  Projects, Code Browsers are in another and Skeletons and the Ascii chart are in a third. The remaining space is used for document views with a splitter window shown in this screen shot. Toolbars are now dockable and toolbar customization is considerably enhanced.

Docked windows can be floated as shown here. They can also be hidden and restored with a keypress or menu/toolbar selection.

This screenshot is the Workspace Bar which includes a Windows Explorer like Files window, the Project Tree and ClassView windows. 

The ClassView displays the Source Database and enables you to quickly jump to any function, procedure, class etc.

Another new feature not shown here is Full Screen mode which removes all toolbars, menus etc. to provide maximum editing space.

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Style Sheets

When you work with multiple languages and compilers you need a straightforward way of establishing custom configurations and linking these to the files you want to edit.

For example Embedded Systems developers routinely work with a range of different microprocessors, each with its own unique assembler language. When they open a file they want it to use the appropriate language, keyword dictionary and compiler for the target platform. Because most assemblers use .asm for file extensions how can the editor work out the correct configuration to use from the filename alone? This is one example of a problem that Version 4's Style Sheets address.

Put simply Style Sheets enable you to associate a specific language along with a range of editing options with a list of file extensions.

To handle the situation where a language can have various flavors, you can now make use of multiple keyword dictionaries for each language, instead of just one. So when you open an MFC C++ or 68K Assembler source file all the appropriate keywords are highlighted and then when you switch to ATL C++ or 8051 Assembler the dictionaries change and again the correct keywords are highlighted.

Style sheets are enabled on a project by project basis ensuring the correct custom configuration is used for each and every file you work with. The bottom line is a painless and productive way of working with many languages and their various flavors.

StyleSheet1s.gif (39749 bytes)

Any number of new Style Sheets can be defined and existing Style Sheet attributes are easily edited. Style validation ensures that any given extension can only be enabled in one style sheet at a time. All Style Sheets are available to all projects, and you simply select the ones you want to use for each specific project by ticking their checkboxes.

Use the context menu to maintain entries. Edit Style Sheet Names and their Extensions in place.
StyleSheetMenu.gif (3502 bytes) StyleSheetEdit.gif (1803 bytes)

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Multi-threading

Why should you have to stop work while some lengthy process takes place? Let's say you need to perform a complex search across hundreds of files. Most editors make you wait until the search is finished; what a waste of valuable time!!

With Version 4's extensive use of multiple threads you can keep working unhindered while these types of tasks take place seamlessly in the background. Separate threads are used for loading files, displaying text, running external tools and capturing their output, running long searches, building function lists and automatically keeping source browser databases up to date. On today's 32bit platforms this level of concurrency should be the norm.

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Enhanced Editing

ED's new face and architecture gives us the opportunity to add new editing features such as an improved Text Bar at the left and an optional visible right margin. The full-screen editing mode reduces clutter to a minimum, and text drag and drop is standardized.

Text Bar
The Text Bar has been enhanced to included line numbers, and bookmark locations. 

A vertical line can shown at the right margin to assist in keeping code within the margin.

New context menu items include the ability to hide and show scroll bars and set the text bar color.

Textbar.gif (4372 bytes)

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Text Selection and Drag and Drop

ED's text selection and drag and drop code has been completely rewritten. The rewrite addresses various deficiencies and inconsistencies and adds important new functionality. For example you can now drag and drop selected text across windows and views. You can also drag and drop text to and from other applications which support OLE drag and drop.

All of the standard mouse selection actions are now supported, like using Ctrl+Click+Drag to select text word by word and Ctrl+Click in the left margin to select the entire file. Following a paste the text cursor is now optionally placed at the end of the new text. Scrolling during text selection is now timer based with the speed increasing as you move further outside the frame. The days of over overshooting the mark have now gone.

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Better File Handling

The 32-bit architecture also provides an opportunity to improve and standardize ED's file handling. Most-recently-used files will be accessible from the File menu, and the file handling limitations in the current version of ED will be greatly reduced or eliminated.

  • File|Open supports multiple file selection enabling many files to be opened at one time.
  • A new and enhanced File Open dialog built on top of the MS Common File Open dialog.
  • Files can now have up to 2,100,000,000 lines.
  • The maximum line length has been increased.
  • Many hundreds of files can be open at once.
  • Non-mapped Network drives and files can be accessed.
  • On Windows NT, Unix files accessed via Samba etc. now work correctly.
  • The File Menu now includes a list of most recently opened files.
A new File Open Dialog

Some people like the Windows Common File Open dialog, but we've always felt there was quite a bit of room for improvement. We decided it was time to switch from our custom file open dialog, but didn't want to lose the enhanced functionality it provides. So we sat down and worked out what we felt were the ingredients necessary to make a truly useful file open dialog and this is what we've come up with.

  • The Selection Bar on the left makes it easy to switch between files on disk, history, favourites, function history and files in projects. 
  • You can move amongst your most recently used folders using the MRU Folders combo box.
  • With our new optional auto-completion you only need type enough characters to uniquely identify a filename and it will finish the rest for you. As you type each character the matching set of files is highlighted, as shown above. Ctrl+Space performs auto-completion even if the option is disabled. Filename auto-completion is a major time saver when you are opening files.
  • The full path and filename are displayed for the current file. We often find that the folder name displayed in the Look in: combo box simply doesn't provide enough information to let you know precisely where you are.
  • Files of type now come from the new Style Sheets described above.
  • Multiple file selection is fully supported.
  • Options lets you choose how files are opened, whether auto-completion is enabled etc. See the next screen shot.
  • Context menu to rename, delete, copy files etc.
  • The dialog is resizable on Windows 98 and 2000.

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Search and Replace

If there is one thing you probably do more of than anything else in an editor it is finding stuff and using search and replace. The tools to accommodate this need to be not only powerful enough for the most complex of searches but also be flexible and easy to use. We've had a good look at what was already in ED and studied various similar products, including the functionality they offer and how they deliver it. To our surprise we found a lot of shortcomings, especially in the area of ease of use. So we set out to build a system that we feel will make your life a little easier.

From the outset we had a number of design goals including:

  • Reduce the number of dialogs needed for find operations.
  • Make the dialog modeless so you can still edit text or move around while searching or even change to another document.
  • Provide help with building regular expressions and give good unobtrusive and immediate feedback on expressions errors.
  • Let you see what a replace will look like before committing to it.
  • Make the dialog smart enough so, for example, the Replace button is disabled if you are not positioned on a match.
  • When search is set to wrap around in the document, to let you know when you are back where you started.
  • Provide a comprehensive range of regular expressions operators and support various styles such as Posix, Visual C++, ED 3.80 and new ED V4.
  • Enable basic search and replace operations without having to use a dialog box at all.
  • Enhance search commands. eg. A single command to search for the current word or selection.
  • Utilize the new multithreaded architecture to enhance Search and Replace.

A key component of the new search is the combined find and replace modeless dialog. How often have you had to cancel a replace mid stream, do some editing and then continue the replace. This repeated opening and closing of dialogs to perform a single task is a waste of energy and can easily break your train of thought. A single modeless dialog which enables you to switch to and from the document at any time delivers a very effective solution to this common shortcoming. This may sound simple but we were surprised at how technically challenging it was to do properly.

Separate buttons for Find Previous and Next

Replace, Once and Show buttons are enabled when you are on a match.

Show lets you see what a replace looks like before committing to it. 

This is the new modeless dialog which is used for all Find and Replace operations. When you use a Find or Replace command the dialog opens and then remains open until you close it. Because it is modeless you can switch between the current document and the dialog at any time. In fact you can change to a different document or issue any ED command you want so that you are always in control of the editor and not the other way around. 

Unfortunately there is no one standard Regular expression syntax so to ensure we are compatible with what you use we've included support for a selection of common styles. We've also made sure it is easy to add more! 

Where do we stand?

During the research and analysis phase for the new search we built a capabilities table for various products. You may find this information interesting.

  ED V4 CW V6 VSE V5 VC6  
Modeless Find/Replace dialog Yes No (1) No No  
Find/Replace dialogs combined Yes No No No  
Show replacement Yes No No No  
On match feedback while editing Yes No No No  
Optional wrap at end Yes Yes Yes Yes  
  Notification on complete pass Yes No No No  
Find current word without dialog Yes No No Yes  
Add current word to history Yes No No No  
Regular expressions Yes Yes Yes Yes  
  Validation Yes Yes(2) No Yes(3)  
  Validation during entry Yes No No No  
  RE Styles supported 4(4) 1 3 3  
  Minimal & maximal matching Yes Yes(5) Yes No  
  Find across lines Yes Yes Yes No  
  Replace can add new lines Yes Yes Yes No  
  Use Escapes in Replace Yes(6) Yes Yes No  
  Find character by value Yes Yes Yes No  
  Match start/end of word Yes No No No  
  Display Tagged match result Yes No Yes No  
  Handle zero length matches ok Yes No(7) Yes No(8) eg. a*
  Separate group & tag expressions Yes No Yes Yes eg. () & {}
  Character class shortcuts Yes No Yes Yes eg. \s \w
  Expression shortcuts Yes No Yes Yes eg. \:q \:k
  Not expression Yes No Yes(9) Yes(8)  
  Selection from menu Yes Yes(10) Yes Yes  
Search Filters 35 No 13 No Ignore comments, strings etc.
1) Partial. Replacement match dialog is modeless. Changing documents gets confused.
2) After dialog closed.
3) Many invalid expressions are ignored. Characters change meaning depending on position.
4) Posix, VC++, EDV4, ED3.8.
5) Minimal and maximal can't be used together in the one expression.
6) ED includes character case conversion escapes.
7) Matches one character instead of zero.
8) Doesn't move to next match.
9) Behaviour seems strange. 
10) Doesn't position back to editing search string
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Regular Expression Search
Regular Expression searching is at the heart of any serious editor. With Version 4 we've again gone back the drawing board, throwing out our existing code and starting anew.

This has allowed us to address a number of shortcomings, considerably improve performance and deliver a new search engine which can be safely used in a multi-threaded application.

New regular expressions operators enable you to:

  • Search for text that spans multiple lines.
  • Insert new lines during replace.
  • Search for the shortest or minimal match in addition to the longest.
  • Search for matches at the start or end of a word.
  • Display the result of tagged expression.
  • Search for a hexadecimal value.
  • Use expression shortcuts to search for Strings, C++ identifiers etc.
  • ....

The Regular Expression context menu shown here enables you to select from a range of common expressions and useful shortcuts.

Support for different dialects of regular expressions is also available including Posix, VC++, ED etc.

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Easier Configuration

ED's highly configurable nature hasn't been changed, but we have removed some restrictions, made configuration easier to use, and allowed you to tie some aspects of configuration, such as toolbars, to style sheets.

Color Setup
ColorSetup.gif (5965 bytes) ColorWell.gif (3833 bytes)

Dip into a color well to quickly select colors.

Color setup has been enhanced with the addition of Color Buttons and Color Wells. The color buttons show the foreground and background colors for each selected syntax element and the color wells simplify color selection. All selections are shown on the color buttons, the "Sample Text" panel and back in any documents which are open.

Color Schemes can be selected on a Project by Project basis delivering utmost flexibility to meet your viewing needs.

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Keyboard, Menu, and Toolbar Configuration
  • Changes to Menus and Keyboards are processed automatically. No separate compilation step is needed.
  • Menus can be nested, and multiple commands can be assigned to menu items.
  • Macros can record commands initiated from menus.
  • Macros now record commands, not keystrokes so a given macro will work with any keyboard definition.
  • Alt+, Shift+, Ctrl+ key modifiers can be combined in Keyboard definitions. e.g. Ctrl+Alt+PgUp
  • More keys are available. All Keypad keys, Num Lock, Scroll Lock, Print Scrn etc.
  • Control keys are now treated independently of standalone keys. e.g. Ctrl+i is now different to Tab.

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