Configurability and Spell Check

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JohnHind
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Sep 14, 2006 1:21 pm
Location: London, UK

Configurability and Spell Check

Post by JohnHind » Thu Sep 14, 2006 3:12 pm

Hi,

I just downloaded all the sub $50 text editors with free trials I could find and pretty quickly removed all except Zeus. Since I work largely in Lua at present, the syntax highlighting and code folding are a big plus along with the special bonus of scripting in Lua too!

Like some others here my ideal for a text editor is TPU on VAX-VMS which is (was?) essentially a scripting language specialised for writing editors with the standard UI supplied as source so you could modify it. It strikes me that Zeus plus Lua is very close to this ideal.

Main thing missing is configurable menus. I know it's on the agenda, but have you considered doing it in Lua? This would be much simpler than having a propriatory config file format and a complicated UI dialog to edit it. Just represent the menus as a system of nested Lua tables, ship the standard layout and allow users to edit it. Personally, I'd prefer keyboard and toolbar config this way too - programmers are used to editing files to change things and it offers more flexibility than a UI.

The other aspect that badly needs work is the spell-check. It's odd that with sophisticated real-time highlighting for programming syntax that this cannot be leveraged for natural languages too (with the keyword highlighting reversed so it highlights words NOT in the dictionary). But at least there should be options to check only within strings and comments and to check the current selection.

I've also noticed some very odd behaviour: sometimes a document check will flag no errors dispite there being many proper names etc and some real spelling mistakes (your readme file for example!). Sometimes it will flag a whole sentence as "unrecognised word" even though each individual word is OK.

Zeus could be even more awesome - and stand out from the crowd - if it was positionned as a toolkit for creating custom IDE's rather than a general purpose editor.

Are you thinking along these lines? If not, I'm tempted to have a go myself, as if the programmers editor market was not crowded enough already!

- John

jussij
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Post by jussij » Thu Sep 14, 2006 11:07 pm

Hi John,
Main thing missing is configurable menus. I know it's on the agenda,

The fully configurable menus feature are planned for Zeus version 4.xx re-write.

Many years ago, in an effort to overcome the then limitations of the 2.xx design, Zeus was fully re-worked for the 3.xx release. In order to support new features like configurable menus, the current 3.xx framework will likewise need some major re-worked.
but have you considered doing it in Lua? This would be much simpler than having a propriatory config file format and a complicated UI dialog to edit it.

I see the configurable menu being implemented using nothing more than a text file (ie XML maybe) in which all the menu items are define to run a given Zeus keyboard function or a Zeus macros. Naturally these Zeus macros could be written using Lua, VBScript, JavaScript, Python etc.

But for this type of approach to work effectively, the interface between the Zeus core and the scripting layer needs to be greatly improved (ie macros need to have greater control over the documents, tools, projects etc).

In a similar manner, the keyboard mapping would also be nothing but a set of text files and the current document type configuration details would also move to human readable, editable text file format.
The other aspect that badly needs work is the spell-check.

This is something that can be fixed in the current framework ;)

I will see if some time can be found to do some rework the spelling engine.
Are you thinking along these lines?

There are definitely lots of things that could be improved in Zeus, but as always it is a matter of finding the time to implement these improvements :(

Today Zeus competes with countless development tools, most of which are free and as such the demand for tools like Zeus drops with each passing year. I would like nothing better than to be able to spend more time on Zeus development, but currently that is just not possible :(

But having said that, as shown by the many patches, Zeus is still being constantly improved, even if the pace is a little slower than it once was ;)

Cheers Jussi

JohnHind
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Sep 14, 2006 1:21 pm
Location: London, UK

Post by JohnHind » Fri Sep 15, 2006 3:31 pm

Today Zeus competes with countless development tools, most of which are free and as such the demand for tools like Zeus drops with each passing year.
But thirty or so years on I still cannot find anything that touches TPU for configurability on the Windows platform (at any price)!

I worked with Lua for well over a year before "getting" it's useage as originally intended - a configuration language. I wrote all kinds of XML, registry and INI file configuration schemes before understanding the power of table literals in Lua. They are terser than XML, even more flexible, and much easier to parse.

Just as an experiment, I wrote the code to generate a .NET 2.0 menu system from a Lua table defined from a literal in a text file. Took about an hour!

jussij
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Joined: Fri Aug 13, 2004 5:10 pm

Post by jussij » Sun Sep 17, 2006 11:33 pm

But thirty or so years on I still cannot find anything that touches TPU for configurability on the Windows platform (at any price)!

I have had many Zeus user mention TPU but personally I have never had the pleasure of using it. Zeus was originally inspired by the MS-DOS and OS/2 base Brief editor and my frustrations with running this great editor on the Windows platform.
I wrote all kinds of XML, registry and INI file configuration schemes before understanding the power of table literals in Lua. They are terser than XML, even more flexible, and much easier to parse.

Lua seems to be used by many applications for exactly this purpose, so I guess there is should little suprise that it does this job so well. I am not sold on the idea of using XML as a configuration language. I find XML is rather poor as a human readable, human writable configuration format.

Jussi

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