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person who dissects and (in the better cases) helps improve a writer's work; software for the production of plain text files, often the subject of fanatical devotion or instinctive and uninformed revulsion

The more-or-less animate

Human editors come essentially in two flavours: those who can write (or could if they put their mind to it) and those who can't. The former can be recognised by the thoughtful suggestions they make, the latter by their gift for unconstructive comments and general fatuity; like the woman who once dismissed a complex piece of layout – without even consulting the developers who had insisted that all the information was essential – with the scribbled comment ugly table. Yes, that still rankles. My thanks to Susan Tajra, my manager at the time, for her soothing response: "Don't worry, Niels, it's just [name of editor] trying to make her job seem important."

When forced to wield an editing pencil myself, I aim to combine ruthlessness with sympathy: but woe betide the writer who leaves me obliged to enquire 'what exactly do you mean by ...'

The purely electronic

In keeping with this benign and positive approach to daily life, I shall with one exception mention only editor programs I have found useful. Bouquets, then, to the following:

A Mac program, and the nearest thing yet discovered to the perfect editor. Stuffed with intelligently-selected features that make it easier for the user to get on with the job, but so well-designed that the features never get in the way. Syntax colouring, multi-file search and replace, glossary functions ...
For all flavours of Windows, and an example of how good a single-developer product can be. Like BBEdit, it acknowledges the existence of other platforms, taking Mac and even Unix files in its stride.
A strictly line-oriented editor for VM. I enjoy the separation of text entry area and command line, and have in my time even grappled with Rexx to write some extra macros. Don't ask me why IBM produced a different editor for MVS, just different enough from the VM editor to make the dual user's life awkward.
I've heard there's a major fault-line in the Linux workd between those who swear by EMACS and those who prefer VI: couldn't care less, as I'm very happy with VI and its slightly flashier twin VIM. Which being so, I was delighted to find out that VI is available on Pico! I do like being able to edit on the hoof ...

Brickbat to IPF Edit, a product I have never tried to use because after finding my way to its home page I cannot imagine it as a serious contender. About a third of the screenshot is taken up by an immense clutter of icons in a toolbar as user-friendly as a Chinese typewriter, and as a colleague enquired, "If the icons need text as well, doesn't that mean they weren't a good choice in the first place?" Feel free to disagree with me, of course.

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