Review of Speed Edit for Windows
Shawn M. Gordon
President S.M.Gordon & Associates
Bradford Business Systems has been making SpeedEdit for the HP 3000 for about as long as I can remember. I had used it in some places, and in general I liked it. At least 4 or so years ago they decided to start porting their editor to other computing platforms, this included support for MPE V, MPE/iX, MS-DOS, MS WINDOWS, OS/2, PRESENTATION MANAGER, UNIX, and X-WINDOWS. While I was at the INTEREX show I saw them showing off the version for Windows, and I was really blown away. I decided to review the Windows version because of some of the special integration features for remote program development that are supported on MPE, MPE/iX and UNIX from your Windows session.
My test environment consisted of a 25Mhz 486 with 12 Meg of memory direct connected to an HP 3000 series 37 with 2 Meg of memory. Since the main performance it is against the PC there really isn’t any accurate way to measure it other than “It seemed fast” or “It seemed slow”. So with all of the introduction out of the way let’s get started.
At it’s most basic SpeedEdit is a full screen editor, it supports all use of the cursor control keys, such as the arrow, page up/page down, and insert/delete. Standard Window editor features such as cut and paste are also supported. Where the real power of this editor comes into play is in the abundance of other features, see figure 1 for a layout of the main screen.
The first special editing character that I want to touch on is the ‘Smart Tab’ feature. By typing Ctrl+S this will cause SpeedEdit to tab forward to a spot directly under the first character of the preceding line which is preceded by two or more spaces.
05 Name PIC X(20)
Assuming the ^ is the cursor, pressing Ctrl+S at this spot will cause the cursor to jump to under the P in PIC, regardless of where the normal tab stops may be set. There are many other Ctrl sequences that can be used for recording and playing back macros, deleting characters, undoing edits, etc..
Another really neat feature is Word Completion. What this will do is try to complete the word you are typing based on a dictionary of prefixes. So you could type SOU and have it finish out SOURCE-COMPUTER for you. This option can also do some very sophisticated stuff, like you could type PER and have it spell out PERFORM then jump down 2 lines and type END-PERFORM, jump back up one line to the blank line and space in the number of characters that you normally like to indent, or position at the end of the original PERFORM statement. This is some very cool and powerful stuff.
Another option you can have is to have the compiler reserved words in one color, modifications in another color, and everything else in a third color. So you know of what you thought you typed as “PERFORM” isn’t green, then you must have made a typo somewhere. You can also visually see your modifications very quickly. I have seen this kind of thing in Visual Basic, and some other things, and I have always liked it.
You can select ranges of text to perform functions like changing the case, deleting, copying, etc. You can also select partial blocks, so you can select a range of columns and rows to perform functions on. The fast menu bar that is found under the Windows menu bar can be configured to hold whatever shortcut keys you would like to use. You can also compile within the software and as far as I could tell just about every compiler is covered.
>Now I get to what I consider to be one of the really great options in this editor, and that is the Remote Program Development. What this will do is interact with your terminal emulator to let you work on code that is located on the Host computer. There are various options for this, such as moving the whole file back and forth or just the changes. When the changes are moved they are saved in a compiler delta file and then are merged in at compile time. To get the whole modified source back to the host requires that it be uploaded at some point. I had no problem in making this work with Reflection 4.0 for Windows. It is more convenient if you already have Reflection started up and logged on, but you can have SpeedEdit do everything for you if you don’t mind setting it up. The RPD is really the best of both worlds, you don’t have to suffer through constant uploads and downloads of full source files, you get to work on your host based code, and you get to work on it in a Windows editor that is preserving all the HP characteristics of the file. For those of you that have downloaded, modified, and then re-uploaded COBOL source files you know what a hassle it is to get it back into a numbered file format.
There are so many other things that you can set up in SpeedEdit, like the smart macros, and other editing features it would just be to long to go through the whole thing, but hopefully this gives you a taste of what is possible with this editor.
Usability (also installation)
The software at it’s most basic is very easy and intuitive, it does start to get a little daunting with all of the options and you aren’t really sure what to use for what feature, or even that some feature may be available to you. I don’t know how you could make it easier because you just can’t write tutorials for every scenario that might come up.
The installation follows standard Windows practices, pop in a diskette, run Windows, and then run the Install program on the floppy disk. You then get asked where you want to stick it, and away it goes. The installation only takes about one megabyte of disk space. See Figures 2 and 3 for some of the various configuration options that are available.
The only real reliability issue that I ran into was, I did have a problem on my machine where I couldn’t get the software to remember some of the options that I was setting without hard coding them in the EDIT.INI file. Since it was working on the Bradford machines I can only think it was some combination of memory manager and disk compression software that was causing some glitch. I have had strange problems with other products due to my system setup, so you should rest easy that there shouldn’t be any problems. Otherwise the software performed exactly as expected.
SpeedEdit works very well, it performs faster than my Ami Pro word processor, but performance will be relative to the size and configuration of your CPU.
Supportability (including Doc)
I never had any problem getting a hold of tech support, and I always got good advice. What I found funny in the manual was a comment in the begging saying that the manual had been kept short to keep it from being to overwhelming. Well the ‘short’ manual is over 300 pages, granted you don’t need to read it cover to cover (and shouldn’t), and it is set up to cover all the versions of the software, but the comment was funny just the same.
The manual is very good, and complete, and the software has a ‘learn’ mode that explains each function that you select the first time that you select it. This helps from having to read more of the manual than you have to. They also support the Windows HELP standard so everything is right there for you on-line.
I really liked SpeedEdit under Windows. What I really like is the fact that it runs on all those different platforms, so if you are doing multi-platform work you don’t have to switch between QUAD, NOTEPAD, and heaven forbid ‘vi’. There are so many little gadgets inside SpeedEdit to make software development go so much quicker and easier There are other very good editors for the HP, but none that have this type of cross platform support. Even beyone all the platforms, it is just a nice easy to use editor. You don’t have to learn all the different options, but if you think you are missing something and can’t figure it out, just call their tech support.
My only real complaint about the Windows version is that it doesn’t really ‘look’ like other Windows applications. It’s not that it looks bad, but lately it seems there has been a de-facto standard for Windows programs (beyond the obvious stuff) and this doesn’t really do that. It’s really not that big of an issue however. I enjoyed using the software a lot, especially the Remote Program Development option, and that is what really counts when you get down to it.
SpeedEdit version A.06 for Windows (also available for MPE V, MPE/iX, UNIX, DOS, OS/2, X-Windows)
Bradford Business Systems Inc.
23151 Verdugo Dr. Suite 114
Laguna Hills CA 92653
Call, write or Fax for ordering information.
Single user price for Windows is $295 and support is $75, call Bradford Business Systems for other pricing information.