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2.2 Starting

To start ne, just type ‘ne’ and press Return. If you want to edit some specific file(s), you can put their name(s) on the command line just after the command name, as for any UN*X command. The screen of your terminal will be cleared (or filled with text loaded from the first file you specified). You can also pipe the result of a command directly into ne: it will be loaded and opened as the first document. See Arguments for other command line options.

Writing text is pretty straightforward: if your terminal is properly configured, every key will (should) do what you expect. Alphabetic characters insert text, cursor keys move the cursor, and so on. You can use the Delete and Backspace key to perform corrections. If your keyboard has an Insert key, you can use it to toggle (switch from on to off, or vice versa) insert mode. In general, ne tries to squeeze everything it can from your keyboard. Function keys and special movement keys should work flawlessly if your terminal is properly configured. If not, complain to your system administrator. If that doesn’t help, see Key Bindings.

At the bottom of the screen, you will see a line containing some numbers and letters. This is called the status bar because it reports to you part of the internal state of the editor. At startup, the status bar has the following form:

 L:       1 C:       1  12% ia----pvu-t------@A* <unnamed>

(the numbers could be different, and a file name could be shown as last item instead of ‘<unnamed>’). You probably already guessed that the numbers after ‘L:’ and ‘C:’ are your cursor’s line and column numbers, respectively, whereas the percentage indicates approximately your position in the file. The small letters represent user flags that you can turn on and off. In particular, ‘i’ tells you that insert mode is on, while ‘p’ tells that the automatic preferences system is activated. The ‘*’ means this buffer has not been saved. For a thorough explanation of the meaning of the flags on the status bar, see The Status Bar.

Once you are accustomed to cursor movement and line editing, it is time to press f1 (the first function key), or in case your keyboard does not have such a key, Escape. Immediately, the menu bar will appear, and the first menu will be drawn. (If you find yourself waiting for the menu to appear, you can press Escape twice in a row.) You can now move around menus and menu items by pressing the cursor keys. Moreover, a lower case alphabetic key will move to the next item in the current menu whose name starts with that letter, and an upper case alphabetic key will move to the next menu whose name starts with that letter.

Moving around the menus should give you an idea of the capabilities of ne. If you want to save your work, you should use the ‘Save As...’ item from the ‘File’ menu. Menus are fully discussed in Menus. When you want to exit from the menu system, press f1 (or Escape) again. If instead you prefer to choose a command and execute it, move to the respective menu item and press Return.

At the end of several menu items you will find strange symbols like ^A or f1. They represent shortcuts for the respective menu items. In other words, instead of activating, selecting and executing a menu item, which can take seconds, you can simply press a couple of keys. The symbol ‘^’ in front of a character denotes the shortcut produced by the Control key plus that character (we assume here that you are perfectly aware of the usage of the Control key: it is just as if you had to type a capital letter with Shift). The descriptions of the form fn represent instead function keys. Finally, the symbol ‘[’ in front of a character denotes the shortcut produced by Control plus Meta (a.k.a. Alt) plus that character, or Meta plus that character, depending on your terminal emulator—you must check for yourself. Moreover, these last bindings may not work with some terminals, in which case you can replace them with a sequence: just press the Escape key followed by the letter. A few menu items are bound to two control sequences (just in case one does not work, or it is impractical).

Note that under certain conditions (for instance, while using ne through a telnet connection) some of the shortcuts might not work because they are trapped by the operating system for other purposes (see Hints and Tricks).

Finally, we have the third and last interface to ne’s features: the command line. If you press Control-K, or Escape followed by ‘:’ (a la vi), you will be requested to enter a command to execute. Just press Return for the time being (or, if you are really interested in this topic, see The Command Line).

In the sections that follow, when explaining how to use a command we shall usually describe the corresponding menu item. The related shortcut and command can be found on the menu item itself, and in Menus.


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