Review by John Burke
Robelle and MPE have practically grown up
together. Introduced 20 years ago, Robelles Qedit for MPE has
been the editor of choice for programmers and developers. In the
mid-1990s, Qedit was ported to HP-UX at about the same time more and
more traditional MPE shops started to find HP-UX boxes crowding into
their datacenters. In the late 90s, as Windows NT started
making inroads, Robelle came out with Qedit for Windows, a
client-server Windows-standard editor for Windows that allows you to
edit local or remote Windows files, MPE-based files and HP-UX files
even simultaneously if you like, cutting and pasting between
documents you are editing and even between other Windows-compliant
Version 4.9 of Qedit for Windows,
introduced this May, adds the Qedit for Windows Scripting Language
(QSL) and Host Commands interface. For the international market, the
client software is available in a French language version.
Ive installed a lot of software over
the years on both HP e3000s and Windows-based PCs. The Qedit for
Windows install is the best and easiest install Ive ever done
on either platform. First, on the Windows platform, you are not
required to exit all your open Windows programs, nor do you have to
reboot your PC to finish the install. As someone who
invariably has 8-12 windows open all the time, thank you Robelle.
On the server side, you can install the
server piece from your desktop PCs CD-ROM drive as long as you
have FTP configured and available on your HP e3000 server and can
connect to it. This is very handy if your server is farther away than
just down the hall. The install on HP-UX is slightly more complex
(snicker, snicker) and requires the launching of a continuously
As always with a Robelle product, the
documentation is both extensive and excellent. It is comprised of:
QWIN Quick Start Guide (41
QWIN User Manual (244 pages)
QWIN Scripting Language Manual (172
www.robelle.com Web site that
includes the QSL Scripting Library of useful and/or interesting
scripts. It also serves as a handy source of examples when learning
to write scripts.
Windows Help file
The documentation contains numerous screen
shots and examples, ranking it among the best Ive ever seen.
Robelle appears to have packed the entire user manual, including
screen shots, and then some, into the Windows Help file for the
product. All three manuals are downloadable in PDF format from the
Robelle Web site.
How does it work?
QWIN is a little unusual, because instead
of the typical server job, QWIN uses Remote Process Management (RPM)
on the HP e3000 to create a session that runs the server process. The
good news is this session does not count against your user license,
an important consideration if you have several developers working on
an eight-user license, or even a 20-user license, machine. It does
count against the session limit, so you may have to adjust it if
multiple people are using QWIN simultaneously. Host files stay
resident on the host HP e3000 or HP-UX system, with just those parts
of a file you are viewing or editing sent across the wire to the QWIN
Version 4.6 of QWIN was reviewed by this publication in January
1998, so I will just give an overview of key product features,
commenting more in depth on the features new to version 4.9.
Consistent interface to all
platforms; one editor for Windows, MPE and HP-UX files with the
standard Windows look and feel means a short learning curve.
Multiple independent views of a
document (vertical and/or horizontal); e.g. look at the program
declarations in one window at the same time you are looking at the
source in another window (see Figure 1 for
an example showing three views of the same SPL source).
Windows-type editing plus a number
of features particularly useful in programming, such as rectangular
selection: selecting text across multiple columns and multiple
Print to any local or host
Does not require a terminal
Uses normal MPE security to control
Remembers last 20 files worked on
for quick access.
Can edit files up to 99,999,999
lines long and 8172 characters wide.
Is Posix aware on MPE and can edit
Edit multiple documents
simultaneously with both horizontal and vertical tiling supported.
Copy, cut and paste between
documents, even if on different systems.
Very fast and powerful search with
wildcard pattern matching.
Blazing performance, even over a
dial-up connection. (As a test, I worked on a 12000+ line file over a
56k network connection. A goto line command was nearly
instantaneous, so QWIN is ideally suited to work from home.)
Language support such as automatic
source tag insertion and line number preservation for COBOL, one
click opening of INCLUDE files in a separate window and
Remembers file-specific attributes
so that when you re-open a file your are right where you left off.
Prevents overwrites by warning you
if the file has been modified by someone else when you go to save
QWIN does not have source control or
source project management features built in, though you can do some
crude project organization by appropriately defining connections. Nor
does it have any hooks into existing software for source control or
source project management. You will have to decide if this is
important to you.
New Version 4.9 Features
The Host Commands feature allows you to
interact directly with the host. In the case of MPE, the QWIN server
creates an instance of the CI as a child process, allowing you to do
pretty much anything you can do, except screen formatting, from a
separate terminal or terminal emulator window.
Each command is executed by itself in its
own CI process. For multiple commands that are logically connected,
just create a document and use the Run as host command.
You can use this feature to invoke the compiler of your choice, but
there is a better way.
The Robelle script library contains a
simple script that gives easy access to most MPE compilers. It can be
loaded from the scripts subdirectory of the system directory
(installed when the client was installed) using the Manage
Scripts command of the Script menu. This adds the
compile commands to the Robelle submenu of the
Script menu (see Figure 2).
The major new feature officially
introduced with Version 4.9 is the Qedit for Windows Scripting
Language (QSL). QSL is a powerful scripting language for QWIN that
gives you the power to:
Customize the QWIN environment
Automate tasks that involve text
documents and multiple machines
Add new features to QWIN
QSL is targeted mostly at the power user,
someone who spends most of the day writing code. Of course Robelle
makes it easy to share scripts so you only need one person who can
comfortably work with QSL.
With a 172-page manual devoted solely to
QSL, it will be hard to do it justice here. QSL is a very powerful
scripting language for QWIN. Think VBScripts capabilities, and
youll have an idea what QSL looks like. Of course this means
that if you have no exposure to object-oriented languages, QSL may
look a little daunting at first. Not to worry though, since the
manual contains numerous descriptive examples and the Robelle Web
site contains many scripts you can use directly and as templates to
write your own scripts.
Among the scripts available at the Robelle
Web site are those which:
Generate an HTML table.
Copy a list of files.
Do a regular expression search of
Selectively replace matches.
Append text to either all lines or
selected lines in the active document.
Display a file directory.
Sort the selected lines in
ascending or descending order.
List all lines containing a string,
a regular expression or pattern, searching the current file only or
scan all $include files.
Compile the current MPE document
using one of the host compilers.
Just to show you that anyone can quickly
start using QSL, if properly motivated, I wrote the script in Figure 3 to load all the associated source
files for a project and then bring the primary file to the
foreground. Figure 4 shows the result.
Piece of cake.
Qedit for Windows is an extremely powerful
but easy-to-learn tool for anyone who routinely edits host-based
files on MPE/iX or HP-UX systems. It brings full Windows GUI
capabilities to host file editing. QWIN beats EDITOR, VI and even, in
my opinion, classic Qedit when it comes to productivity and ease of
use. The new scripting language, QSL, adds powerful customization and
batch editing features to an already robust editor.
I liked this version of Qedit for Windows,
but any decision on an editor that you may spend much of your day
using is a very personal one. Therefore, I strongly suggest you go to
the Robelle Web site and browse through the copious information
available on Qedit for Windows. You should be able to tell in 15 to
20 minutes if this is the product for you. If you think it might be,
order up a copy of the demo on the Web site.
John Burke is the editor of the
NewsWires HiddenValue and net.digest columns and has more than
20 years experience managing HP 3000s.