- Ed (text editor)
ed is the standard
text editoron the Unixoperating system. ed was originally written by Ken Thompson and contains one of the first implementations of regular expressions. Prior to that implementation, the concept of regular expressions was only formalized in a mathematical paper, which Ken Thompson had read. ed was influenced by an earlier editor known as QED from University of California at Berkeley, Ken Thompson's alma mater. ed went on to influence ex, which in turn spawned vi. The non-interactive Unix commands grepand sedwere inspired by common special uses of ed; their influence is visible in the design of the programming language AWK, which in turn inspired aspects of Perl.
Famous for its terseness, ed gives almost no visual feedback. For example, the message that ed will produce in case of error, or when it wants to make sure the user wishes to quit without saving, is "?". It does not report the current filename or line number, or even display the results of a change to the text, unless requested. This terseness was appropriate in the early versions of Unix, when consoles were
teletypes, modems were slow, and memory was precious. As computer technology improved and these constraints were loosened, editors with more visual feedback became the standard.
In current practice, ed is rarely used interactively, but does find use in some
shell scripts. For interactive use, ed was subsumed by the sam, viand Emacseditors in the 1980s. ed can be found on virtually every version of Unix and Linuxavailable, and as such is useful for people who have to work with multiple versions of Unix. If something goes wrong, ed is sometimes the only editor available. This is often the only time when it is used interactively.
The ed commands are often imitated in other line-based editors. For example, EDLIN in early
MS-DOSversions and 32-bitversions of Windows NThas a somewhat similar syntax, and text editors in many MUDs ( LPMudand descendants, for example) use ed-like syntax. These editors, however, are typically more limited in function.
Here is an example transcript of an ed session. For clarity, commands and text typed by the user are in normal face, and output from ed is emphasized.
a ed is the standard Unix text editor. This is line number two. . 2i . %l ed is the standard Unix text editor.$ $ This is line number two.$ 3s/two/three/ ,l ed is the standard Unix text editor.$ $ This is line number three.$ w text 65 q
The end result is a simple text file containing the following text:
ed is the standard Unix text editor. This is line number three.
Started with an empty file, the "a" command appends text (all ed commands are single letters). The command put ed in "insert mode", inserting the characters that follow and is terminated by a single dot on a line. The two lines that are entered before the dot end up in the file buffer. The "2i" command also goes into insert mode, and will insert the entered text (a single empty line in our case) before line two. All commands may be prefixed by a line number to operate on that line.
In "%l" the l stands for the list command. The command is prefixed by a range, in this case "%" which is a shortcut for "1,$". A range is two line numbers separated by a comma ("$" means the last line). In return, ed lists all lines, from first to last. These lines are ended with dollar signs, so that white space at the end of lines is clearly visible.
The error in line 3 is corrected with "3s/two/three/", a substitution command. The "3" will apply it to the correct line, following the command is the text to be replaced, and then the replacement. Listing all lines with ",l" (a lone comma is also a synonym for "%") the line is shown now to be correct.
"w text" writes the buffer to the file "text" making ed respond with "65", the number of characters written to the file. "q" will end an ed session.
Bill Joy, vi, and ed
editor wars, Emacsproponents used to say, "even Bill Joydoesn't use vi anymore."
In a 1984 interview [http://web.cecs.pdx.edu/~kirkenda/joy84.html Interview with Bill Joy, Unix Review, August 1984.] Bill Joy explained that, at Sun, he used an early desktop publishing program, called
Interleaf; when visiting labs outside Sun, he used plain old ed. Although vi was almost ubiquitous, he could not count on the local version working the way he expected. However, ed was never modified, so he could count on making it work without making himself look like a fool.
Edlin, the standard MS-DOS line editor.
List of Unix programs
* [http://www.gnu.org/software/ed/ed.html GNU ed homepage]
* [http://gnuwin32.sourceforge.net/packages/ed.htm GNU ed for Win32]
* [http://snap.nlc.dcccd.edu/learn/nlc/ed.html Unix Editors I]
* [http://bash-hackers.org/wiki/doku.php?id=howto:edit-ed Examples for ed in scripts]
* [http://www.gnu.org/fun/jokes/ed.msg.html ed Humor]
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