Wednesday, May 16, 2007

ISPF or Xedit : ISPF !?

The first editor I got to work with on the mainframe (or on any platform for that matter) was ISPF. After half a year I switched from MVS to VM and from ISPF to Xedit. I was - to say the least - overwhelmed by the many commands and settings in Xedit. Afterwards, when I got to work with ISPF again, I realized that lots of it can also be done in ISPF. And if it can't, you can always try and write a macro for it. If I had to make a choice . . . let's skip that one for the time being. To be honest, the ideal editor would be a mixture of both. In each editor, there are some features that are missing or that are for better covered in the other.

In this topic I'd like to focus on the ISPF aspects which are not that good or not at all covered in Xedit. I must say, however, this is entirely my personal opinion as this seems to be a sensitive topic : there have been more than one discussion on this topic in the IBM-Main discussion list

First of all I find the 'find-replace' commands to be far more intuitive in ISPF. Locating a target in Xedit only gives one occurence per line. That's not what I want : I just want to find every occurence in my file. So I have to use clocate. And you always have to be very aware of your position in the file in Xedit, more than in ISPF. Furthermore there's no RFIND. You have to re-issue the command. Some other things missing : FIND FIRST, FIND LAST, FIND PREV, FIND NEXT, FIND PREFIX, SUFFIX, WORD and FIND ALL. The last one can more or less be replaced by COUNT. No FIND P' ' (picture string) either. I use that a lot in ISPF.
The same goes for changing data : only one occurence per line, unless you indicate otherwise. And I find it so annoying, that afterwards, you're positioned at the bottom of the file as first line on your screen. There's no RCHANGE either.

What I'm really missing in Xedit is the UNDO command. It's just not there. The only thing you can do is recover deleted lines. If anyone has a solution for this, comments are welcome !

Line commands 'UC' and 'LC' do not exist in Xedit. There's only UPPER and LOWER issued from the command line. But then you really have to pay attention if you only want to transform a couple of lines. Just as with PUT-GET, the equivalent of CUT-PASTE you have to indicate the number of lines from the command line instead of indicating the range in the prefix area. Another line command that's replaced in that way by a primary command is the copy-overlay function (COVERLAY command in Xedit).

The tabbing is more elaborate in ISPF. There's only an equivalent of software tabbing in Xedit.

And it's sometimes very little things which you happen to use that you're missing : the FLIP command e.g. OK, you can also write a macro for it of course. As I also did for scrolling up or down the screen so that the cursor position becomes the first or last line of the screen (Scroll Amount=Cursor). PF7 and PF8 always scroll entire pages in Xedit.

Don't worry if I make Xedit look like a poor editor. It surely is NOT.
I'll come back on this topic with a sequel : 'Xedit or ISPF : Xedit !?'.

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