What is PFE Anyway?

PFE is a large-capacity, multi-file editor that runs on Windows 98, Windows 95, Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000 on Intel-compatible processors, and on Windows 3.1x. Although it's primarily oriented towards program developers and contains features like the ability to run compilers and development applications, it also makes a very good general purpose editor for any function at all

There's no version built for Windows NT on DEC Alpha platforms, but it's reported that the Intel version runs well under the Intel emulation system.

It's got all the standard sort of editory things, of course - you can type into it (insert or overwrite mode); open files; insert one file into another - all the things you expect in any editor at all

The Goodies

Well, OK, there are some limits, but they aren't hard coded into PFE. You'll have to have Windows resources free to open all the windows, and enough virtual memory to load all the data in; but on a reasonable sized machine you should be able to edit a lot of stuff at the same time.

Nor are there any limits on how many lines you can have in a file (well again, you have to fit the line number into a 32 bit variable - but that's a lot of lines)

Almost too few to mention, but modesty won't stop me coming up with some of them. We have

You can choose your favourite font (fixed pitch only) and can set the colour of practically everything to be what you prefer.

If you're like me, you like to edit C source with a tab size of 4, plain text with a tab of 8 and text wrapping enabled, and HTML with all the tabs inserted as spaces. Oh, and we'd like C source to be red on blue, but HTML looks much nicer as cyan on yellow, if you wouldn't mind

PFE can set this sort of stuff up automatically for you - you can set up a list of file name patterns, like "*.h *.c readme.*" and associate with it a list of how you want things to look. Then every time you open a file whose name matches one of the patterns in the list, the window is set up for you to look the way you want

If you need to insert lots of similar looking things into your files - maybe you're the one guy in the world who comments C source, and you like a standard header in front of every procedure - PFE can help you out. Define the boilerplate text in a template file, and then inserting from this can be done over and over again in a couple of operations. Template text can also contain substitution markers, and there are keystrokes that take you automatically to them so you can insert any variable parts you want

Editing UNIX files is easy, too. PFE looks at the data it loads from a file and will work out if the file is in UNIX format or DOS format automatically. So you can edit in whatever format you should be editing in; or even convert from one to the other with a single mouse click.

Well, everyone's got tool bars and status bars these days. PFE has them too, and it had a tear-off toolbar before MFC got it. The status bar also responds to double mouse clicks in its various areas and does Sensible Sorts of Things

If you use the 32-Bit Edition you'll be able to work with the Control Station, a free-floating window that lets you view and manage large numbers of open files and windows. You can even define your own list of favourite files within it.

You can use PFE to edit anything, of course; but it started life as a program development tool, and that's the main influencing factor on the design. It's got the ability to run a DOS command like a compiler from within itself, and can capture the output into a window for you; and you can launch the application you're developing from a quick dialog, so you don't need to go off and find where you parked File Manager

Put three programmers in a room and you'll get five specifications for the ideal editor keyboard layout. PFE comes with a default set of mappings that match standard Windows practice, but you can throw them out if you want and roll your own. A simple dialog lets you map just about any key or combination to a function; and for those of you who like the Emacs way of things, you can even map key sequences like Ctrl+X Ctrl+D

And if you really think that it's a fun idea to open a file by typing Ctrl+Z followed by Alt+Ctrl+Shift+F2, you can do that too

You can automate repetitive tasks by recording the keystrokes you make, and replaying the recording as many times as you want. You can save the recording for later sessions; and you can build up collections of these macros into libraries and assign up to 20 of them to keys for use at any time

You can work PFE from other applications using DDE, too, so if you need to integrate an editor into some other tool that you've got, this might be a way to do it

The 32-Bit Edition supports the centre wheel of Microsoft Intellimice; you can use the system-wide control panel settings for the wheel, or set up PFE-specific settings to suit how you want to work

You can specify that files are printed with or without page headers, with or without line numbering, and with long lines wrapped or truncated on the right; the page borders are configurable to any width you require. You can print complete files; or only the selected text; or only a specified range of lines.

For printers such as inkjets, that output pages face-up, you can have the files printed in reverse page order, so that the pile in the output tray is automatically in the correct reading order.

In landscape mode, you can print two pages of text side-by-sheet on a sheet, and this can be extended to order the pages so that you can fold a batch of sheets to make a centre-stapled booklet.

It has all sorts of other things, too, which you'll find when you start to play with it. You can configure your own items on the help menu, and you can get context help on a word in file with a mouse click. You can send files to others using Microsoft Exchange; you can choose to have line numbers visible in your edit windows, and so on. Far too many nice things to mention - why not get a copy and find out for yourself?

Why should you use PFE? Well, I'm not pushing you to throw out your old editor, and as PFE is absolutely free I'm not trying to part you from your money. But you might find that you like it, so for the sake of the time it takes to download, why not have a go?

The latest version is here on this web server, so the next step is to click on this link to find them. Enjoy!

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