avoiding line numbers

Karl Dahlke eklhad at comcast.net
Tue Sep 21 12:20:39 UTC 2004

Yes, many people are "turned off" by ed, or edbrowse,
because they think they have to mess with line numbers.
Not so.

Since this has come up more than once, I thought it worth a section
in my documentation.
I added a section on "tips and tricks", and I include it below.

If you're new to ed, you may find this program awkward.
I often receive complaints about line numbers. People hate line numbers.
They don't want to read the first page line by line, 1p 2p 3p 4p 5p etc.
Well I hate line numbers too, and I never use them. Haven't for years.

If you just want to read the whole document, type ,p.
That works, if you use a command line speech adapter.
The whole document is in buffer, and you can read through it using the function
keys on your adapter. Now I realize most people still use screen readers,
so this won't work. Still, there's an easy way to step through screen by screen.
Start with 1z20 to get the first 20 lines.
Then the z command will give you the next 20, and the next 20, and so on.
You may want to use 22, or 24, or whatever makes sense relative to your screen.

Another approach is to simply hit return, again and again,
and proceed line by line. You may need to hit a function key to "read"
each line, after you hit return, or maybe not,
if your adapter has an autoread feature.

Once you are use to the regular expressions,
you can jump to any part of the document, even a large document,
in record time simply by searching for a unique text fragment.
This comes with practice. Sometimes I guess wrong,
and my search string is not unique. I wind up somewhere else and have to search again.
This doesn't happen very often. I usually get to the right place in one or two tries.

If you want to mark certain lines of text,
please don't try to remember the line numbers. Use the k command to mark them.
I usually use ka and kb to mark the start and end of a block of text,
while kc marks the new location. The move command is then 'a,'bm'c -
with absolutely no line numbers. (This is standard ed fair,
though most people never take advantage of it.)

To look for links on a web page, search for the right brace.
Yes, you may stumble across a literal right brace in the text,
but this doesn't happen very often. You might access a particular link by
typing /{Next}/g. Similarly, you can look for input fields by searching for the
greater than sign. (This will make sense as you read about the representation of web pages.)
And of course, multiple operations can be scripted,
a feature unique to this browser.

These are just some of the tips and tricks that will make you as fast and
efficient as anybody using a screen editor or browser,
provided you are familiar with the page.
(You will never be faster than your sighted colleague when traveling through
unfamiliar territory, no matter what system you use.)
My wife is always amazed at how quickly I can negotiate websites,
or edit the common documents that we work on together.

More information about the Blinux-list mailing list