OTHER EDITORS: GEDIT, ABIWORD, AND STARWRITER

Although XEmacs is probably the text editor of choice if you're determined to use only one, MathLAN provides several alternatives that might be preferable in specialized circumstances.

gEdit

If you feel slightly overpowered by the complexity or artificiality of XEmacs, you might be more comfortable with an editor that has a more human scale -- fewer operations, less configurability, but an easy and familiar user interface. The gEdit editor would be a good choice.

Starting gEdit

To start gEdit, move the mouse pointer onto the GNOME footprint icon near the left end of the Front Panel, click the left mouse button, move the mouse pointer onto the word Applications near the top of the menu that appears, click the left mouse button, move the mouse pointer onto the word gEdit on the secondary menu that appears, and click the left mouse button once more. The program starts up in a separate window.

Alternatively, you can start gEdit from a shell in a terminal emulator by typing

gedit &

at the shell prompt. You can put the name of a file between `gedit' and `&', in which case gEdit loads that file as it starts up. (If the file does not already exist, gEdit pops up a window asking for permission to create it. To assent, move the mouse pointer onto the word Yes in the pop-up box and click the left mouse button.)

Selecting a file

To edit an existing file in gEdit, move the mouse pointer onto the Open icon (a slightly open file folder) on the icon bar near the top of the gEdit window and click the left mouse button. A new window pops up, entitled Open File.... At the bottom of this window is a text field labelled Selection:, in which you can type the full pathname of the file that you want to edit. Alternatively, you can use the tool above the text field to search for the file you want. If you move the mouse pointer onto any of the directories listed in the text area on the left side (under the header Directories and click the left mouse button twice, the subdirectories of that directory are displayed in the left text area, and the non-directory files it contains are displayed in the right text area. If you move the mouse pointer on the name of any of the files listed in the right text area, click the left mouse button, then move the mouse pointer onto the button labelled OK at the bottom of the Open File... window, and click the left mouse button again, gEdit loads that file into the editor.

To create a new file, go ahead and type in some or all of the text that you want the file to contain. Then move the mouse pointer onto the word File at the left end of the menu bar at the top of the gEdit window, click the left mouse button, move the mouse pointer onto the phrase Save As ... on the menu that appears, and click the left mouse button. A new window pops up, similar to the Open File... window described above, and you can specify the full name of the file in which you want to save your work by typing it into the text field at the bottom. Then move the mouse pointer onto the button labelled OK at the bottom of the window and click the left mouse button.

Entering and deleting text

To add text to the file, just type it in. The position at which the characters are inserted is indicated by a thin vertical line, the editing cursor. If you move the mouse pointer to any position in the text and click the left mouse button, the editing cursor moves to that point.

To delete a character to the left of the cursor, press the <Backspace> key; to delete one to the right of the cursor, press the <Delete> key.

Saving and exiting

To save the changes that you have made to a file, move the mouse pointer onto the Save icon (a floppy disk) on the icon bar and click the left mouse button.

You can tell whether you have made changes in a file that have not yet been saved by looking at the name of the file in the list that appears at the left of the main editing area. If the name is preceded by a small superscript x, there are unsaved changes.

To exit from gEdit, move the mouse pointer onto the Exit (arrow-in-doorway) icon at the right end of the icon bar and click the left mouse button.

If you have changed any files without saving them, gEdit asks you about each one by popping up a reminder box. Move the mouse pointer onto the button labelled Yes if you want to save the file, the one labelled No if you want to discard the changes, or the one labelled Cancel if you decide that you don't want to exit yet. Then click the left mouse button.

AbiWord

AbiWord is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get word processor that is useful for creating documents and handouts that should look nice (with margins, proportional fonts, perhaps a bulleted list or two), but don't require either the elegant typesetting that TEX provides or the exotic features of StarWriter (below) or Microsoft Word.

Starting AbiWord

You start AbiWord from a shell in a terminal emulator by typing

abiword &

at the prompt and waiting. AbiWord takes several seconds to start up. You can put the name of an existing AbiWord file between `abiword' and `&', in which case the program loads that file as it starts up.

Selecting a file

To edit an existing file in AbiWord, move the mouse pointer onto the Open icon (a slightly open file folder) on the icon bar near the top of the AbiWord window and click the left mouse button. A new window pops up, entitled Open File. At the bottom of this window is a text field labelled Selection:, in which you can type the full pathname of the file that you want to edit. Alternatively, you can use the tool above the text field to search for the file you want. If you move the mouse pointer onto any of the directories listed in the text area on the left side (under the header Directories and click the left mouse button twice, the subdirectories of that directory are displayed in the left text area, and the non-directory files it contains are displayed in the right text area. If you move the mouse pointer on the name of any of the files listed in the right text area, click the left mouse button, then move the mouse pointer onto the button labelled OK at the bottom of the Open File window, and click the left mouse button again, AbiWord sets up a new editing window and loads the selected file into it.

To create a new file, move the mouse pointer onto the Create icon (a dog-eared sheet of paper) at the left end of the icon bar and click the left mouse button. AbiWord starts a new window. Type whatever you like into it, then move the mouse pointer onto Save As ... icon (the floppy disk with a pencil writing on it) on the menu bar and click the left mouse button. A new window pops up, similar to the Open File window described above, and you can specify the name of the file in which you want to save your work by typing it into the text field at the bottom. (By default, AbiWord automatically supplies the extension .abw to indicate that the file is an AbiWord document.) Then move the mouse pointer onto the button labelled OK at the bottom of the window and click the left mouse button.

Entering and deleting text

To add text to the file, just type it in. The position at which the characters are inserted is indicated by a thin vertical line, the editing cursor. If you move the mouse pointer to any position in the text and click the left mouse button, the editing cursor moves to that point.

To delete a character to the left of the cursor, press the <Backspace> key; to delete one to the right of the cursor, press the <Delete> key.

Printing

You can print the contents of an AbiWord document that you're working on by moving the mouse pointer onto the printer icon (fifth from the left on the icon bar) and clicking the left mouse button. A pop-up box appears, asking for information about the print job. (The print command should be lpr.) To send the job to the default printer, move the mouse pointer onto the word Print at the bottom of the pop-up window and click with the left mouse button.

Saving and exiting

To save the changes that you have made to a file, move the mouse pointer onto the Save icon (a floppy disk) on the icon bar and click the left mouse button.

You can tell whether you have made changes in a file that have not yet been saved by looking at the name of the file on the title bar at the top of the frame of the AbiWord editing window. If the name is followed by an asterisk, there are unsaved changes.

To exit from AbiWord, move the mouse pointer onto the word File in the top right corner of the window, click the left mouse button, move the mouse pointer onto the word Exit at the bottom of the menu that appears, and click the left mouse button again. AbiWord pops up a confirmation box, asking you to verify that you want to close all the editing windows and shut down the program. Move the mouse pointer onto the button labelled Yes and click the left mouse button.

If you have changed any files without saving them, AbiWord asks you about each one by popping up a reminder box. Move the mouse pointer onto the button labelled Yes if you want to save the file, the one labelled No if you want to discard the changes, or the one labelled Cancel if you decide that you don't want to exit yet. Then click the left mouse button.

StarWriter

StarWriter is a full-featured word processor, offered by its makers as a direct competitor for Microsoft Word and similar to Word in its general layout and capabilities.

Before you can use StarWriter, you must install in your account a number of files and directories used by the StarOffice system of which StarWriter is a part. The handout ``Setting up StarOffice'' describes how to do this and also gives some hints about why it might not be worth the trouble.

Starting StarOffice

If StarOffice has been installed, you can start it from a shell in a terminal emulator by typing

~/office52/soffice &

at the prompt and waiting. StarOffice takes most of a minute to start up, appearing eventually as a full-screen window containing a desktop (the StarDesktop) with several icons on it.

Selecting a file

To create a new file, move the mouse pointer onto the New Text Document icon on the StarOffice desktop at the left end of the icon bar and click the left mouse button twice. StarWriter occupies the desktop. Type whatever you like into the main text area, then move the mouse pointer onto Save icon (a floppy disk) on the icon bar near the top of the StarOffice window and click the left mouse button. A new window pops up, with a text field (the one labelled File name:) for the name of the file want to save your work. (By default, StarWriter saves the file in the StarWriter format and automatically supplies the extension .sdw to indicate as much.) Then move the mouse pointer onto the button labelled Save at the side of the window and click the left mouse button.

To edit an existing file in StarWriter, move the mouse pointer onto the Open icon (a slightly open file folder) on the icon bar near the top of the StarWriter window and click the left mouse button. A new window pops up, entitled Open. At the bottom of this window is a text field labelled File name:, in which you can type the full pathname of the file that you want to edit. Move the mouse pointer onto the button labelled OK at the side of the Open window and click the left mouse button. StarWriter replaces the desktop with a new editing window and loads the selected file into it.

Entering and deleting text

To add text to the file, just type it in. The position at which the characters are inserted is indicated by a thin vertical line, the editing cursor. If you move the mouse pointer to any position in the text and click the left mouse button, the editing cursor moves to that point.

To delete a character to the left of the cursor, press the <Backspace> key; to delete one to the right of the cursor, press the <Delete> key.

Printing

You can print the contents of an StarWriter document that you're working on by moving the mouse pointer onto the printer icon (fifth from the left on the icon bar) and clicking the left mouse button. While the file is printing, a pop-up box appears to let you know what is happening; it disappears as soon as the print job has been transmitted.

Saving and exiting

To save the changes that you have made to a file, move the mouse pointer onto the Save icon (a floppy disk) on the icon bar and click the left mouse button.

You can tell whether you have made changes in a file that have not yet been saved by the appearance of the floppy-disk icon. It is colored in dark gray if there are unsaved changes, but is ``grayed out'' to the same color as the background otherwise.

To close StarWriter, returning to the StarDesktop, move the mouse pointer onto the word File in the top right corner of the window, click the left mouse button, move the mouse pointer onto the word Close on the menu that appears, and click the left mouse button again. If you have changed any files without saving them, StarWriter asks you about each one by popping up a reminder box. Move the mouse pointer onto the button labelled Save if you want to save the file, the one labelled Discard if you want to discard the changes, or the one labelled Cancel if you decide that you don't want to exit yet. Then click the left mouse button. The StarOffice desktop reappears.

To exit from StarOffice, move the mouse pointer onto the word File in the top right corner of the window, click the left mouse button, move the mouse pointer onto the word Exit on the menu that appears, and click the left mouse button again.

(laurel leaf logo)

created August 7, 2000
last revised June 26, 2001

John David Stone (stone@cs.grinnell.edu)