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REVIEW: Freyja2: System-compliant editor

REVIEW: Freyja2: A Powerful, Free System Compliant Editor for the HP 95LX

Comes with source code included -- gives programmers an excellent example of how to write System-Manager compliant programs.

By Ed Keefe

FREYJA (ON DISK ICON) is a text editor for the HP 95LX. FREYJA is an acronym that stands for, "FREYJA Reduces EMACS, Yet Joins All." This recursive definition needs explaining.

EMACS

Emacs is a text editor that has been around for decades and is available for almost any computer. The word "EMACS" is derived from the words "Editor" and "macros" (i.e. editor with macro capabilities).

Not only is EMACS a great editor, but its freeware version comes with complete source code, usually C. If you don't like the way EMACS behaves, you're free to change it to suit yourself. All you need is a solid, working knowledge of the C programming language and a good compiler. The word "All" in the above definition refers to the various versions of EMACS -- all 60 of them.

Some of the more widely known, freeware versions of EMACS go by the names of AE, VINE, DEmacs, Edwin, Edmacs, Elle, Epoch, Freemacs, Jove, MicroEmacs, and, of course, FREYJA.

There are even commercial versions of EMACS. The commercial packages usually incorporate pull-down menus, multi-colored text and pop-up help screens. You may recognize some of these "brand names": Epsilon, Mince, Sage, Perfect Writer, FinalWordII, Sprint and Brief. (The last two are now distributed by Borland International. Some Borland watchers predict that Brief will soon become the built-in editor for Borland C++ and Pascal.)

More on FREYJA

Freyja is the work of Craig Finseth. Craig "wrote the book" on EMACS, or, more precisely, he has written "a" book on EMACS. (The Craft of Text Editing: EMACS for the Modern World, Craig A. Finseth, Springer-Verlag, 220pp, 10 chap., 5 append. ISBN: 0-387-97616-7, 3-540-97616-7, $39.95).

Craig had a version of FREYJA available for the HP 95LX almost a year ago (see July/Aug 92 issue, page 26). We even considered giving FREYJA the place of honor on the 1992 Subscribers Disk, but decided not to because it was not that easy for non-EMACS users to use. (Besides, it would have been the only program on the disk. The Free Software Foundation, to which Craig subscribes, mandates that all software should be distributed with its source code. Even though FREYJA.EXE is less than 40K bytes, its source code and documentation take up about 560K of disk space!)

We're glad we held off. The latest version, Freyja2, is now a true, System-Manager compliant program: one that can task switch with the built-in applications including 1-2-3, without the need for any "loader" program.

Freyja2 Features

Here is a partial list of Freyja2 features:

  • Besides being System-Manager Compliant, FREYJA can use either the 95LX's built-in character sets, or tiny fonts technology.

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You can edit text on a screen that ranges from the usual 40 x 16 up to one that shows an 80 x 25 screen.

Freyja2 Displays Tiny Fonts:  Graphic
 
 

  • FREYJA works hand-in-glove with the 95Buddy program.
  • FREYJA uses the number format and calendar format that is specified in the 95LX's SET UP program.
  • Unlike it's IBM version, FREYJA for the 95LX does not contain a built-in calculator. It does have a perpetual calendar however.
  • Freyja's MENU key shows a menu which is somewhat like the menu in MEMO. However, the range of options almost rivals those of Lotus 1-2-3.
  • FREYJA has all of the usual editing commands such as cutting and pasting, searching and replacing, file getting and saving. It even allows split screen viewing of two files.
  • Like all EMACS programs, FREYJA excels in the use of macros. As a matter of fact, when you choose an option from the built-in menu, you are, actually, executing a pre-defined macro. User defined macros can be created on the fly. There does not seem to be an easy way to save and recall alternative macro sets.
  • Finally, there is a built in help screen which shows the function key maps for the standard, control and shift-keys all in inverse video all on the same screen. You can have more help provided you have disk space for the .DOC files included.

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Some Rough Edges

If FREYJA is loaded first, all other applications, including 1-2-3 will task switch with it. However, if 1-2-3 is loaded first, trying to start FREYJA will merely get you an "insufficient memory" message on the screen.

The help command is not explained in the documentation. Further, the documentation assumes some familiarity with EMACS and the notion of "key-binding" (i.e. creating macros and assigning them to function keys) More extensive help on the 95LX is possible. However, you need about 120K bytes of disk space to load all the help files. You also need to put a command setfreyjadir=c:\_dat in your AUTOEXEC.BAT file, and then reboot.

I tried using the clipboard feature of FREYJA to move text between a built in application and FREYJA. Sometimes this would work and other times it wouldn't. Craig Finseth thought I had loaded the wrong resource file, but I did not have time to check this out (SYSMGR.RES is correct).

One of the menu options lets you access the DOS command line.

Summary/Conclusion

FREYJA, version 2.0, is a true System-Manager compliant editor for the HP 95LX. It is based on the popular, EMACS style of editor. If you're familiar with EMACS, you'll feel comfortable using FREYJA. If you're unfamiliar with EMACS, there is an extensive menu system that will let you get started using this editor.

For programmers who are trying to figure out how to write SystemManager compliant programs, in C, the source code for FREYJA is almost required reading.

In short, FREYJA 2.0 is a monumental feat of programming by a master of EMACS. It works, but still has a few rough edges. Best of all, it's freeware!

iPhone Life magazine


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