acme, win – interactive text windows
manages windows of text that may be edited interactively or by external programs.
The interactive interface uses the keyboard and mouse; external programs
use a set of files served by
these are discussed in
are read into
option, the state of the entire system is loaded
which should have been created by a
names are ignored.
Plain files display as text; directories display as columnated lists of the
names of their components, as in
ls -p directory|mc
except that the names of subdirectories have a slash appended.
option sets the main font, usually variable-pitch (alternate, usually fixed-pitch);
the default is
Tab intervals are set to the width of 4 (or the value of
numeral zeros in the appropriate font.
windows are in two parts: a one-line
above a multi-line
The body typically contains an image of a file, as in
or the output of a
program, as in an
The tag contains a number of
blank-separated words, followed by a vertical bar character, followed by anything.
The first word is the name of the window, typically the name of the associated
file or directory, and the other words are commands available in that window.
Any text may be added after the bar; examples are strings to search for or
commands to execute in that window.
Changes to the text left of the bar will be ignored,
unless the result is to change the name of the
If a window holds a directory, the name (first word of the tag) will end with
Each window has a scroll bar to the left of the body.
The scroll bar behaves much as in
except that scrolling occurs when the button is pressed, rather than released,
as long as the mouse button is held down in the scroll bar.
For example, to scroll slowly through a file,
hold button 3 down near the top of the scroll bar. Moving the mouse
down the scroll bar speeds up the rate of scrolling.
windows are arranged in columns. By default, it creates two columns when starting;
this can be overridden with the
Placement is automatic but may be adjusted
in the upper left corner of each window and column.
Pressing and holding any mouse button in the box drags
the associated window or column.
For windows, just
clicking in the layout box grows the window in place: button 1
grows it a little, button 2 grows it as much as it can, still leaving all other
tags in that column visible, and button 3 takes over the column completely,
temporarily hiding other windows in the column.
(They will return
if any of them needs attention.)
The layout box in a window is normally white; when it is black in the center,
it records that the file is ‘dirty’:
believes it is modified from its original
Tags exist at the top of each column and across the whole display.
pre-loads them with useful commands.
Also, the tag across the top maintains a list of executing long-running commands.
The behavior of typed text is similar to that in
except that the characters are delivered to the tag or body under the mouse; there is no
‘click to type’.
(The experimental option
causes typing to go to the most recently clicked-at or made window.)
The usual backspacing conventions apply.
the ESC key selects the text typed since the last mouse action,
a feature particularly useful when executing commands.
A side effect is that typing ESC with text already selected is identical
Most text, including the names of windows, may be edited uniformly.
The only exception is that the command names to the
left of the bar in a tag are maintained automatically; changes to them are repaired
When a window is in autoindent mode
command below) and a newline character is typed,
acme copies leading white space on the current line to the new line.
causes each window to start in
When a window is in spacesindent mode
command below) and a tab character is typed,
acme indents the line with spaces equal to the current
tabstop for the window. The option
causes each window to start in spacesindent
Each window’s tag names a directory: explicitly if the window
holds a directory; implicitly if it holds a regular file
(e.g. the directory
if the window holds
This directory provides a
for interpreting file names in that window.
For example, the string
in a window labeled
will be interpreted as the file name
The directory is defined purely textually, so it can be a non-existent
directory or a real directory associated with a non-existent file
File names beginning with a slash
are assumed to be absolute file names.
Windows whose names begin with
conventionally hold diagnostics and other data
not directly associated with files.
A window labeled
receives all diagnostics produced by
Diagnostics from commands run by
appear in a window named
is identified by the context of the command.
These error windows are created when needed.
Mouse button 1
Mouse button 1 selects text just as in
including the usual double-clicking conventions.
Mouse button 2
action similar to selecting text with button 1,
button 2 indicates text to execute as a command.
If the indicated text has multiple white-space-separated words,
the first is the command name and the second and subsequent
are its arguments.
If button 2 is ‘clicked’indicates a null string\c
the indicated text to find a command to run:
if the click is within button-1-selected text,
takes that selection as the command;
otherwise it takes the largest string of valid file name characters containing the click.
Valid file name characters are alphanumerics and
This behavior is similar to double-clicking with button 1 but,
because a null command is meaningless, only a single click is required.
Some commands, all by convention starting with a capital letter, are
that are executed directly by
Delete most recently selected text and place in snarf buffer.
Delete window. If window is dirty, instead print a warning; a second
Delete column and all its windows, after checking that windows are not dirty.
Delete window without checking for dirtiness.
Write the state of
to the file name, if specified, or
Treat the argument as a text editing command in the style of
language is implemented except for the commands
command is slightly different: it includes the file name and
gives only the line address unless the command is explicitly
The ‘current window’ for the command is the body of the window in which the
command is executed.
command would be typed in a tag; longer commands may be prepared in a
scratch window and executed, with
itself in the current window, using the 2-1 chord described below.
after checking that windows are not dirty.
With no arguments, change the font of the associated window from fixed-spaced to
Given a file name argument, change the font of the window to that stored in the named file.
If the file name argument is prefixed by
also set the default proportional-spaced (fixed-spaced) font for future use to that font.
Other existing windows are unaffected.
Load file into window, replacing previous contents (after checking for dirtiness as in
With no argument, use the existing file name of the window.
Given an argument, use that file but do not change the window’s file name.
Print window ID number
When opening ‘include’ files
(those enclosed in
with button 3,
searches in directories
adds its arguments to a supplementary list of include directories, analogous to
option to the compilers.
This list is per-window and is inherited when windows are created by actions in that window, so
is most usefully applied to a directory containing relevant source.
With no arguments,
prints the supplementary list.
This command is largely superseded by plumbing
Set the autoindent mode according to the argument:
set the mode for the current window;
set the mode for all existing and future windows.
commands named as arguments.
Restore the state of
from a file (default
created by the
When prefixed to a command
command in the same file name space and environment variable group as
The environment of the command
is restricted but is sufficient to run
and to set environment variables such as
Search in body for occurrence of literal text indicated by the argument or,
if none is given, by the selected text in the body.
Make new window. With arguments, load the named files into windows.
Make new column.
Replace most recently selected text with contents of snarf buffer.
Write window to the named file.
With no argument, write to the file named in the tag of the window.
Write all dirty windows whose names indicate existing regular files.
Append selected text or snarf buffer to end of body; used mainly with
Place selected text in snarf buffer.
Arrange the windows in the column from top to bottom in lexicographical
order based on their names.
Set the spacesindent mode according to the argument:
set the mode for the current window;
set the mode for all existing and future windows.
Set the width of tab stops for this window to the value of the argument, in units of widths of the zero
With no arguments, it prints the current value.
Undo last textual change or set of changes.
Create a copy of the window containing most recently selected text.
If a regular shell command is preceded by a
character, the selected text in the body of the window is affected by the
I/O from the command.
character causes the selection to be replaced by the standard output
of the command;
causes the selection to be sent as standard input to the command; and
does both at once, ‘piping’ the selection through the command and
replacing it with the output.
A common place to store text for commands is in the tag; in fact
maintains a set of commands appropriate to the state of the window
to the left of the bar in the tag.
If the text indicated with button 2 is not a recognized built-in, it is executed as
a shell command. For example, indicating
with button 2 runs
and error outputs of commands are sent to the error window associated with
the directory from which the command was run, which will be created if
For example, in a window
will produce the output
in a (possibly newly-created) window labeled
in a window containing
producing output in a window labeled
The environment of such commands contains the variable
with value set to the filename of the window in which the command is run,
set to the window’s id number
Mouse button 3
Pointing at text with button 3 instructs
to locate or acquire the file, string, etc. described by the indicated text and
This description follows the actions taken when
button 3 is released after sweeping out some text.
In the description,
refers to the text of the original sweep or, if it was null, the result of
applying the same expansion rules that apply to button 2 actions.
If the text names an existing window,
moves the mouse cursor to the selected text in the body of that window.
If the text names an existing file with no associated window,
loads the file into a new window and moves the mouse there.
If the text is a file name contained in angle brackets,
loads the indicated include file from the directory appropriate to the
suffix of the file name of the window holding the text.
command adds directories to the standard list.)
If the text begins with a colon, it is taken to be an address, in
the style of
within the body of the window containing the text.
The address is evaluated, the resulting text highlighted, and the mouse moved to it.
one must type
(There is an easier way to locate literal text; see below.)
If the text is a file name followed by a colon and an address,
loads the file and evaluates the address. For example, clicking button 3 anywhere
in the text
27, and put the mouse at the beginning of the line. The rules about Error
files, directories, and so on all combine to make this an efficient way to
investigate errors from compilers, etc.
If the text is not an address or file, it is taken to
be literal text, which is then searched for in the body of the window
in which button 3 was clicked. If a match is found, it is selected and the mouse is
moved there. Thus, to search for occurrences of a word in a file,
just click button 3 on the word. Because of the rule of using the
selection as the button 3 action, subsequent clicks will find subsequent
occurrences without moving the mouse.
In all these actions, the mouse motion is not done if the text is a null string
within a non-null selected string in the tag, so that (for example) complex regular expressions
may be selected and applied repeatedly to the
body by just clicking button 3 over them.
Chords of mouse buttons
Several operations are bound to multiple-button actions.
After selecting text, with button 1 still down, pressing button 2
and button 3 executes
After clicking one button, the other undoes
the first; thus (while holding down button 1) 2 followed by 3 is a
that leaves the file undirtied;
3 followed by 2 is a no-op.
These actions also apply to text selected by double-clicking because
the double-click expansion is made when the second
click starts, not when it ends.
Commands may be given extra arguments by a mouse chord with buttons 2 and 1.
While holding down button 2 on text to be executed as a command, clicking button 1
appends the text last pointed to by button 1 as a distinct final argument.
For example, to search for literal
one may execute
with button 2 or instead point at
with button 1 in any window, release button 1,
clicking button 1 while 2 is held down.
When an external command (e.g.
is executed this way, the extra argument is passed as expected and an
is created that holds, in the form interpreted by button 3,
the fully-qualified address of the extra argument.
creates a new
window and runs a
in it, turning the window into something analogous to an
Executing text in a
window with button
2 is similar to using
Applications and guide files
In the directory
live several subdirectories, each corresponding to a program or
set of related programs that employ
Each subdirectory includes source, binaries, and a
file for further information.
It also includes a
a text file holding sample commands to invoke the programs.
The idea is to find an example in the guide that best matches
the job at hand, edit it to suit, and execute it.
Whenever a command is executed by
the default search path includes the directory of the window containing
the command and its subdirectory
The program directories in
contain appropriately labeled subdirectories of binaries,
so commands named
in the guide files will be found automatically when run.
binds the directories
to the beginning of
when it starts; this is where
programs such as
default file for
also where state is written if
dies or is killed unexpectedly, e.g. by deleting its window.
template files for applications
informal documentation for applications
source for applications
MIPS-specific binaries for applications
Acme: A User Interface for Programmers.
the recreation of windows under control of external programs
is just to rerun the command; information may be lost.