There are also some environments where the line-oriented paradigm is the only option. These include environments where output of different programs continuously clutters your screen (MultiUserDungeons?, for example), terminals that have no positioning commands, and very slow lines (you don't want ncurses to refresh your screen on a 2400 baud connection every time you add a line, even if curses uses differential display).
In addition to being one of the only line-oriented editors (ex notwithstanding), ed is one of the least friendly editors around. It does nothing without being asked to, its error messages are mostly '?', it does not offer help in any form, and it is not customisable. It is a modal editor, sometimes leaving you more lost than vi. However, I think it is easier to get out of ed than of vi if you got there by accident. (And you do get into vi by accident a lot.) I think an enhanced ed, with some niceties like automatically showing the context of editing, could easily be my editor of choice. Also, I think the model of changing text should be rethought.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Patrick J. LoPresti?) Message-ID: <1991Jul11.email@example.com> Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org (News system) Subject: The True Path (long) Date: 11 Jul 91 03:17:31 GMT Path: ai-lab!mintaka!olivea!samsung!zaphod.mps.ohio-state.edu!think.com!snorkelwacker.mit.edu!bloom-picayune.mit.edu!athena.mit.edu!patl Newsgroups: alt.religion.emacs,alt.slack Organization: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lines: 95 Xref: ai-lab alt.religion.emacs:244 alt.slack:1935 When I log into my Xenix system with my 110 baud teletype, both vi *and* Emacs are just too damn slow. They print useless messages like, 'C-h for help' and '"foo" File is read only'. So I use the editor that doesn't waste my VALUABLE time. Ed, man! !man ed ED(1) UNIX Programmer's Manual ED(1) NAME ed - text editor SYNOPSIS ed [ - ] [ -x ] [ name ] DESCRIPTION Ed is the standard text editor. --- Computer Scientists love ed, not just because it comes first alphabetically, but because it's the standard. Everyone else loves ed because it's ED! "Ed is the standard text editor." And ed doesn't waste space on my Timex Sinclair. Just look: -rwxr-xr-x 1 root 24 Oct 29 1929 /bin/ed -rwxr-xr-t 4 root 1310720 Jan 1 1970 /usr/ucb/vi -rwxr-xr-x 1 root 5.89824e37 Oct 22 1990 /usr/bin/emacs Of course, on the system *I* administrate, vi is symlinked to ed. Emacs has been replaced by a shell script which 1) Generates a syslog message at level LOG_EMERG; 2) reduces the user's disk quota by 100K; and 3) RUNS ED!!!!!! "Ed is the standard text editor." Let's look at a typical novice's session with the mighty ed: golem> ed ? help ? ? ? quit ? exit ? bye ? hello? ? eat flaming death ? ^C ? ^C ? ^D ? --- Note the consistent user interface and error reportage. Ed is generous enough to flag errors, yet prudent enough not to overwhelm the novice with verbosity. "Ed is the standard text editor." Ed, the greatest WYGIWYG editor of all. ED IS THE TRUE PATH TO NIRVANA! ED HAS BEEN THE CHOICE OF EDUCATED AND IGNORANT ALIKE FOR CENTURIES! ED WILL NOT CORRUPT YOUR PRECIOUS BODILY FLUIDS!! ED IS THE STANDARD TEXT EDITOR! ED MAKES THE SUN SHINE AND THE BIRDS SING AND THE GRASS GREEN!! When I use an editor, I don't want eight extra KILOBYTES of worthless help screens and cursor positioning code! I just want an EDitor!! Not a "viitor". Not a "emacsitor". Those aren't even WORDS!!!! ED! ED! ED IS THE STANDARD!!! TEXT EDITOR. When IBM, in its ever-present omnipotence, needed to base their "edlin" on a UNIX standard, did they mimic vi? No. Emacs? Surely you jest. They chose the most karmic editor of all. The standard. Ed is for those who can *remember* what they are working on. If you are an idiot, you should use Emacs. If you are an Emacs, you should not be vi. If you use ED, you are on THE PATH TO REDEMPTION. THE SO-CALLED "VISUAL" EDITORS HAVE BEEN PLACED HERE BY ED TO TEMPT THE FAITHLESS. DO NOT GIVE IN!!! THE MIGHTY ED HAS SPOKEN!!! ?The best thing about ed is it has this really useful visual mode. Just start it up and type :vi ... but don't try that on your 110 baud tty. That should not work. Maybe you are on an evil system where ed is a link to ex? Hmm. Actually I'd really like a 110 baud tty - anyone know where I can get one these days?'' Get a VT100 and set it to 110 baud.