Ramblings, meanderings, rants and discoveries.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Boxer Editor

Ok for those of you who are not coders, do not do CSS or HTML or care for the software reviews - talk among yourselves.  For the rest of us.

As most of you know I am a great supporter of small useful utilities.  This one is not so small is extremely useful and while it is not free it is well worth the price.  Boxer Text Editor. I love this tool.  I was introduced to it by an online coding acquaintance (Ken Perry) who suggested I try it. Ken is blind. (He says he hates to be called visually impaired and prefers blind). He was looking for an affordable accessible editor. He suggested I try it knowing I hate the wordpad like editors. I missed Multi-Edit but at the time the cheapest version was around 500.00 too rich for my out of work self (they now have a lite version I may look at.) I started with the 30 day trial and have used it through a few versions now for over 4 years.

I opted for the disks to be sent to me.  It arrived quickly and well protected - good job! Yes you read that correctly 1 disk.  Download is also an option but my connection is slow and who know what my daughter is downloading or uploading as we speak?    Boxer installs like a dream. No glitches on Vista, Windows 7 or my old 98 machine. First time I did it it went so fast I was not sure it worked. But it started up with no issues. The Boxer Shorts tips are cute, they get annoying fast though. You can turn them off easily.  User configuration and preferences are a breeze to set up. Projects are more work and sometimes a lot more annoying but you can start right out coding.

I am very happy with Boxer.  It is small, easily configurable for any language and comes with quite a few templates like HTML, C, and Pascal, users have made others that can be downloaded from the site and you can of course add your own. I made one for myself for DIL using the C as a base.  The entire program is small enough to run on a thumb drive (5 MB fully installed) which is great for carrying to a client site so you have an editor you know well.

It has all the features that make my life easier and I expect in a code editor; like find mate so you can ensure all your braces, brackets and parenthesis are closed.  You can set it format your code (or plain text) and most other main features that larger and more expensive code editors have are built in.  Side by side window configuration to find differing or same lines when comparing source. In other words it is a professional level tool.

For HTML, it is an excellent tool that includes a spell checker you can set to ignore HTML tags so that only the text is spell checked. When I hover the mouse over a color code, a small pop up appears showing me the color. The find mate works to find the end tag or starting tag in a pair.

Boxer also has some handy tools that save time, the HTML color, ANSI and OEM charts as well as a calculator, and a calendar. It comes with quite a few user macros and you can download more from the site to use as is or study to make your own. You can set up projects or just work on individual code. There is a an evaluation of 30 days available.  I bought a copy after playing with it for a month, 30 days was not enough time to complete what I was working on, and I liked it well enough I wanted to continue using it.

Drawbacks and Issues
For the most part it is a nice little package. However every once in a while if I am working on a project it starts to hog the ram and fight over memory addresses. It has caused the Vista machine to lock up if I am running a telnet client or winscp or other ftp software on the WiFi router.  Sometimes the text for linked documents or projects will show up in a hover type alt text and not go away. This last can be annoying.  And like any tool that has autotext it can come up with some very odd fill ins. I usually keep that turned off. Lastly it is not 100% accessible on all features. Ken could not use the find mate for parenthesis and such. But he did use it almost exclusively on his windows machine.

The only issue I have with it for HTML editing is if I am editing a document and adding tags to an existing site (like a div for a new CSS class)  it adds the end tag automatically. so if I want to change a section it looks like this div /div stuff I want in the div. I then have to go back and delete the end tag and put it where I really want it.

Making a simple "find this text in this situation and change to title case" is kludgy when making a macro. Something a word processor or pure text editor does easily.  A lot of the pure text  manipulation is not intuitive and you wind up writing a macro in the C-like language. While it is powerful I do not recommend this for say a blogger or an article writer.

The drawbacks are minor though and truth be told I tend to push my ram a lot. If I could just find the conflict with winscp I would be elated. But I suspect it is something unique to my Vista machine and over all I highly recommend this product for any developer. At $59.99 it well worth it.  It is available for both 32 and 64 bit. It is great for a consultant or even for a consulting company due to the small size and the fact it leaves no traces on the client machine when used from a USB drive. I actually cannot say enough good about this product. Just go down load the 30 day trial and see for yourself.  But be ready to be impressed.

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