Using ed in 2018 (written using ed)
Wed Aug 8, 2018

REAL programmers

ed is a text editor designed for a kind of system that doesn't really exist any more. It doesn't follow any of the rules modern text editors do. It's famously a pain to use. But I decided to write a blog post in it.

Using ed in 2018 is just like it was in 1971

ed hasn't changed much. That's one of the most interesting things about it to me: it's 70s software, still available. It's been described as the "most user-hostile editor ever", as it gives basically no feedback to the user and it's hard to tell what's going on. Ed is like this because when it was first made it needed to be very small, and able to operate over a slow terminal connection. Even by the 80s these limitations no longer existed, but ed is still around. For some reason. But ed is the STANDARD text editor. So I decided to learn it.

Ed isn't difficult to use.

Maybe it's because I have used sed before, but using ed isn't all that difficult. Editing is done with regular expressions, and with the help of the manpage most of the commands are pretty easy to figure out. It even allows you to backspace. Which vi doesn't. None of this is to say that ed is nice to use however, it's pretty much the opposite. So would I say ed is a good text editor? Nope. Would I say ed is even worth trying to use in the modern day? Nope. Is ed still usable? Yes, kinda.



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