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    I find the page on why he still uses wordstar more interesting than the technicalities of running it today.

    Being so beloved by a specific community, it’s odd that there’s no oss remake of wordstar.

    The old word processor that I’m fond of still is prowrite (amigaos).

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      Almost all, if not all, of those arguments also apply to vim. I have written four books and well over a hundred articles in Vim (plus a PhD thesis and a bunch of academic papers), with either Markdown or LaTeX markup (Markdown for short articles, LaTeX for anything complex).

      I found his description of long-hand versus typewriter metaphors very interesting. I have exactly the opposite experience and I’m curious what that says about our writing styles. I regard writing and editing as distinct tasks and I like the modal interface in vim for forcing me to put my brain in writing mode and stay there. When I’m writing, I may use backspace to rewrite something I’ve just typed but I don’t want to be jumping backwards and forwards and editing during my writing phase, I do that in my editing phase. I’d almost be inclined to recommend separate tools for the two activities. I’ve actually written a few articles on a Nokia 770 (back before smartphones were really a thing) and bluetooth keyboard, with the 770 in my pocket and no view of the screen. I typed them out on the keyboard and then went home and edited them on a computer with a big screen.

      My main memory of WordStar was that it was the only thing with a spell check that worked on an 8086 with 640KiB of RAM. I used to type things in it, spell check them, and then import them into Write in Windows 3.0 for formatting.

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        Your assessment made me re-read his article to try to understand what he was talking about. I had forgotten how WordStar worked. I think you have a great point.

        This is another case of constraints being a feature. WordStar was designed for a Z80, CP/M, and a tiny amount of memory. They didn’t attempt to pull off any layout or WYSIWYG. They embraced the limitations by having the formatting instructions inline. They could then easily add the ‘..’ comment system. (I don’t remember if I ever used that feature.)

        This is just like your point. This is really just the author appreciating the simple markup language of WordStar.

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          Prowrite (I mention in another post) worked with just a basic 512KB Amiga.

          Of course, there’s a bit of cheating, with AmigaOS providing a lot of useful libraries in a 256KB ROM (kickstart <= 34).

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          Of course there is: http://wordtsar.ca/

          Edit: oops not OSS yet, I thought it was http://wordtsar.ca/license/

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            Well, too bad.

            Particularly, as they switched from wx to qt recently. Even if they eventually publish the code, the wx version (which I would definitely prefer, wx is far lighter than qt) will probably never see the light of day.

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              Might also be possible to resurrect https://github.com/dfr62/wormstar

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              Thx for that link.

              What did you like about prowrite?

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                What did you like about prowrite?

                Simpler screen, lighter memory usage, lower latency than the alternatives (particularly kindwords/wordsworth), yet had all the features I actually used.

                The lower resource usage made floppy-only life easier. I used to run hippoplayer on the workbench screen behind prowrite’s.

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              Both e3 and joe claim to do word star keyboard shortcuts:

              https://packages.debian.org/buster/e3 And https://packages.debian.org/buster/Joe

              Has anyone tried those?

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                If I recall correctly, Borland editors used to do Wordstar sequences as well.

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                Ah, Word Star. The text editor that George R. R. Martin doesn’t use while he’s not writing ASOIAF.


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                  I remember working for a client, who was still running critical business infrastructure, a DOS program from 1987. The request was to be able to upgrade to Windows 10 and have network printing working. An older set-up with multiple machines that ran Windows 98 and XP also allowed this, but the older machines were no longer available on the market and could thus no longer be replaced if they failed.

                  vDos allowed me to work with these requirement and is able to run the 33-year old binary without any change, fully featured, and now allows network printing but also network storage drives! I also submitted some patches back to Jos Schaars (but I don’t know whether they were useful to him). In general, I am quite positive about vDos!

                  Although, there is some weird blob (binary large object) in the source code that you obtain via e-mail by donating any amount via PayPal (to avoid dealing with non-serious users): I never really understood what functionality was implemented in that closed source blob.

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                    I had a clerical job in high school where I had to use Wordstar. I like that people are still using it and improving it.

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                      improving it

                      Do you mind elaborating?

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                        The article shows many improvements. For example, the display of Italics is impressive. The layout is also quite different.

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                      A lot of sci-fi and fantasy writers seem to be WordStar fans! I wonder if it is just the very human habit of obsessing over the tools we use every day even when it doesn’t matter that much. Or perhaps it’s that in DOS, you don’t have the constant distractions of the internet to take you off course.