Veit's Blog

Braindead Editing


I've had the urge to do some programming close to the metal again lately and was looking for a useful project that I could work on in C. Inspired by antirez's kilo I decided to work on a terminal editor that looks and feels a lot like Vim, but caters more to my needs. This meant that I had to make it snappier, provide defaults that are saner (to me, all of this is completely personal), and not have it provide a scripting language for me to get lost in.

That last idea might sound like a non-feature, but I don't need all that many features in my day-to-day editing. I normally use tmux to run multiple Vim and zsh sessions simultaneously, which provides me with the ability to edit and work with Git or issue shell commands without having to resort to fancy plugins. I strongly believe that making my tool more focused also enables me to make it better.

e—I love short names and mnemonics—is C99- and POSIX-compliant, at least to the best of my knowledge; has no external dependencies; is just over 1.4k lines of code long; and the resulting binary is 44 Kilobytes small on my machine. The feature list looks pretty complete, though, at least from where I'm standing:

Of course there are bugs galore, but it seems to run fine on my machine–well enough to write this essay on it anyway. I haven't battle-tested it yet, though, so don't take my word for it. I also have to fix Unicode support, which is one of those moments where you realize how old C really is. Only Python 2.x is worse (sorry folks).

Anyway, I've been working on it nights and weekends for the last 10 days or so, and it's been a blast. Now I'm at a point where I'm ready to share it with the world. I'm sure the code quality is abysmal, though, because I haven't written any C in years, quite literally.

asciicast Fig. 1: A screencast of e in action (opens in a new tab).

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, be sure to open a Github issue. I'm ready to support y'all if you're interested. And there is plenty of work that needs to be done if you would like to work on a project like that. I'm open to Pull Requests of any kind and am happy to do my part if you need some help getting started.