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A Guide to BeOS System Objects


StyledEdit Icon

The StyledEdit Icon
Location in the BeOS: /beos/apps/StyledEdit

StyledEdit is the basic text editor and word processor on the BeOS.


If you've used the BeOS for any time at all, you've almost certainly double-clicked on a text document, whether it was a README file or documentation for an application, or release notes, or whatever. Chances are good that if you've done so, you've used StyledEdit.

StyledEdit is a basic text editor which, because it can save font and style information for text blocks, or "runs," can also function as a basic word processor. It's not the sort of tool you'd want to write your master's thesis on, but you could do it if you had to -- and it wouldn't be as bad as the typewriter my father used for his!

StyledEdit started out life as just Edit, back in our developer release days. But about a year and half ago, we hired a DTS engineer who had done the styled text engine used in the CodeWarrior IDE (used there for syntax coloring). The Engineering department talked him into adding an improved version of his engine to the BeOS, and StyledEdit was born.

Something most people don't know about StyledEdit is that it stores the style runs (which are style descriptions with the start and end points defined) as attributes to the text file. In other words, the formatting information is not stored inside the document with the text.

This has a big advantage, that the actual file is just a plain text file (on the BeOS, "plain" means UTF-8, capable of storing and displaying the entire Unicode character set), which means that any other text editor can open and understand the file. You won't find a bunch of random characters mixed in with the document's text, like you would if you opened a MS Word document with a plain text editor. This means that if you buy a copy of Pe, the amazing text editor for the BeOS, you can use it to open and modify all your existing StyledEdit files.

However, it also has a disadvantage, in that you have to be careful when transferring the file to another system, at least if you want to preserve the style information. Because most file transfer methods, e.g., ftp, do not preserve BeOS file attributes, the style information gets stripped off; all you'll have at the other end is a plain text file. Similarly, since most other OSes don't know how to handle BeOS file attributes, even if you get them to the other system (next paragraph), you're likely to lose the style information.

To get around this disadvantage, at least when sending the file to another BeOS system, be sure that you zip the file(s) into a zip archive. The BeOS version of zip is BeOS attribute-aware, and will add the file's style runs attribute to the zip archive along with the file, and put the two back together again on the other end, so you'll have a complete StyledEdit file on the other side.

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