Use current_background as nonfocused color
4f86d4e794fb — Jorge Acereda 8 months ago
Make focused window more identifiable
5bbce26df8d6 — Jorge Acereda 8 months ago
Don't deiconify in shell mode


browse log
browse .tar.gz


88,dPYba,,adPYba,  ,adPPYYba,  
88P'   "88"    "8a ""     `Y8  
88      88      88 ,adPPPPP88  
88      88      88 88,    ,88  
88      88      88 `"8bbdP"Y8  

"ma" is a minimalistic clone of the acme[1] editor used in Plan 9,
and is written in Tcl/Tk. It has been tested with Tcl/Tk 8.5, mostly
under Linux and OpenBSD. "ma" has successfully been run on Mac OS
X with XQuartz, but needs a tiling window manager to be used in a
satisfactory way.

I used emacs[2] for years, but got bored with the ever growing
number of extensions and key-combinations that one has to remember
when intensively using that editor. I also got fed up with the fact
that purely keyboard driven interfaces involve frantic typing,
something that appears to stress me. Acme, which is heavily
mouse-controlled, seems to produce a more relaxed, single-handed
use, especially for navigation and browsing. I'm slower now (or at
least this is my impression), but less hectic while working (it

Another advantage of acme is the dynamic nature of extending the
user-interface while one is using it - nearly everything is text,
and every text can be mouse-sensitive.

Note that this editor is single-window based - it doesn't provide
multiple windows, nor does it manage them in any way (this is
delegated to the window manager.)




and put the files "ma", "awd", "win", "pty", "plumb" and "B" in your
PATH and ".plumb" into your $HOME.


"ma" attempts to work as much as possible like acme, but does no
own window-management.  Configuration is done in the file "~/.ma",
holding Tcl code to modify fonts, colors, etc.  A number of
command-line options can be provided to set various of these options
and to run "ma" in special modes, or to communicate with the
"registry", a "ma" instance that allows locating files that are
already open.

To start the registry, run

  ma -registry &

The registry is implemented using the Tk "send" command, so
X-forwarding must be disabled (enter "xhost" to see wether this is
the case). "ma" should still run, but features related to the
registry will not be available in this case (locating already open
windows, and "Putall".)

The "B" program takes one ore more filenames (optionally followed
by an address) and opens the given files or activates already open
windows holding these files.

"pty" is a generic program running a subprocess in a pseudo terminal
and is used by "win" to have interactive windows inside a "ma"
instance. Note that this is currently very crude and does not support
escape codes of any kind.

"ma-eval" can be used to evaluate Tcl code in a running "ma" instance,
"awd" sets the label of the window in which the command is executed.
You can create an alias for "cd" to set the label automatically
when used inside an interactive shell window:

alias cd="_cd"

function _cd () {
    \cd "$@"
    if test -n "$MA"; then
        awd bash

When the registry is running, the window that has the current focus
is drawn with a white border around it. Executing commands in the
body of another window will then perform the execution in the context
of the focus window. Execution in the tag of a window always has
that window as context, regardless of focus.

When you create a new, unnamed window and want to save it, then
just edit the filename (initially "<unnamed>"). Also saving the
file under a different name can be done the same way.

The "plumb" program performs a very simple Plan-9 like "plumbing"
based on regular expressions, see ".plumb" for some examples on how
to define rules, which consists of Tcl code associated to regular
expressions.  "plumb" takes a string as argument and runs the
plumbing rules in "~/.plumb" until a rule matches and succeeds.
Text sweeped or clicked with B3 will invoke "plumb" with the string
as argument.

Environment variables:

    If set, all code that is executed in "win" mode or via B2 is logged in
    the file given in this variable (this includes all input, including

    Lists additional include-directories, separated by ":" (default:

    Shell to use for executing commands (default: "bash")

    Set to the name of the wish(1) instance when executing external

Access from the command line:

Using "ma-eval", some elements from a "ma" window can be
accessed by sending Tcl code to the process in which a shell command
was initiated:

For example,

    ma-eval $MA GetBody

would print the contents of the window body to stdout. Here is a selection 
of  some useful Tcl commands that you can use (for more intricate access,
study the "ma" source code):

    SetBody TEXT
    SetTag TEXT
    SetLabel TEXT
    ReplaceFile FILENAME
    Insert TEXT
    InsertFile FILENAME
    Append TEXT
    AppendFile FILENAME

Note that text may have to be suitable quoted to be passed trough
to the Tcl interpreter that is running in the window, like this:

    ma-eval $MA Insert "{this is a test}"


At the start of the "ma" script, you will find a number of global
variables that hold default values for fonts, colors and other
settings that are used throughtout the editor. Modify these at
your convenience.


The easiest way to add commands is simply to put scripts or programs
in your PATH. If you want more thorough integration, you can also
define commands at the Tcl level, by using "DefineCommand REGEX
EXPR" to define Tcl code to be executed when the command given in
REGEX is executed, i.e.

    DefineCommand {^MyCommand\s+(.+)$} { ... }

Arguments (subpatterns in the regex) can be extracted with "GetArg".

"ma" is not finished, and probably never will. For more information,
consult the source code or contact me[3].

To do:

- (bug) crash of program in win-mode doesn't print any message
- (bug) KeyRelease-event in .tag (getting through after invoking 
  dmenu(1) in this case) results in incorrect resize of tag, even 
  though only first line contains text
- (bug) Automatic resizing of the tag doesn't always work
- (bug) sort order in columnar listing is wrong (should be rowwise,
  not columnwise)
- (bug) Tk seems to clear the clipboard when exiting, so the 
  contents copied from a terminated instance are not recovered
- (bug) the (pseudo-)selection is sometimes retained even after 
- (bug) "Back" should not put position on search-stack if search 
  wraps around
- (bug) The exit status of subprocesses in non-win mode is silently
  discarded. This seems to be a Tcl limitation, see also:


- the file-registry needs to be explicitly started
- the "Kill" command (Del key) is not very reliable with respect to
  what processes are killed (should probably use a process group)
- the width used for computing columnar directory layout seems not 
  to be correct (always 80?)
- autosnarf when selecting: no idea how to do this, keeping current 
  selection and copying when selection gets empty doesn't work, 
  since selection by mouse apparently clears it in between 
  movements; perhaps detect when selection changes from non-empty 
  to empty
- there is no "Zerox" command
- works very bad on Mac/Aqua and Windows:
  - Mac: default Tcl/Tk crashes, freshly installed (Aqua) aborts 
    unexpectedly, B2/B3 are swapped, slow startup (note that 
    Tcl/Tk for XQuartz works surprisingly well, though)
  - Windows: cursor in text widget barely visible (black, even on 
    dark background), startup very slow, binding Ctrl-keys doesn't 
    seem to work, UpdateTag doesn't seem to treat filename as valid
    and inserts Win-style path before it (this is with Active 
    State Tcl/Tk, 8.6.4)
- there is no backup-file
- Address syntax only supports a subset of acme/sam and is rather 
  crude (see also comment in ParseAddr), "/.../"/"?...?" addresses
  only select a position, not ranges
- In "win" mode, "ma" tries to ignore the prompt from input lines, 
  but moving the insertion point may confuse this, if possible use 
  a prompt for interactively used programs that will be ignored 
  by the client program (e.g. ":;" for sh(1) or ";" for rc(1))
- Password-entry in "win" mode works only when the insertion cursor
  is not moved by mouse or cursor-movement keys
- "Putall" is implemented, but will save all files in all open 
  windows, even on virtual screens not currently visible
- there is no "Edit" command

Differences to the Plan 9 acme:

- There is no "move" box
- Tab does not insert "\t" but whitespace
- (obviously) single-window mode
- no dynamic update of undo/redo commands tag (Tcl/Tk 8.6 seems 
  to support access to the undo-stack, though)
- auto-chmod when saving file beginning with "#!/"
- missing commands: "Zerox", "Edit", "Incl"
- supports Key-Up/Down movement by line
- inserting with active selection doesn't snarf
- indentation-setting is window-local
- executing with redirection ("|...", ">...", "<...") in "win" 
  mode invokes shell, and does not send the command to the process 
  running in the window
- executing in tag always has current window as context, executing
  in body has currently focussed window as context (if registry is 
- double-clicking opening bracket selects forward, but quote-
  scanning works backwards (in acme both bracket and quotes only 
  select backwards)
- indent-mode works differently
- word under cursor is defined as ws-delimited (excluding 
- win-mode: pressing RETURN before current insert point sends the 
  whole line
- "noscroll" mode is much weaker (does not block running process)
- basic keyboard commands for mouse-less operation: 
  C-1 (toggle focus), C-2 (execute selection), C-3 (acquire 
- B3-search is case-insensitive, search with "Look" is not
- "//.../" address means search with regex syntax disabled
- Supports various emacsish keyboard sequences, as provided by the 
  Tk text widget
- Additional commands: 
    Anchor: add address of insertion point into tag
    Withdraw: hide window
    Tcl CODE: execute Tcl code
    Crnl: toggle between UNIX/DOS line-terminator encoding
    Back: jump back to previous address after search
    Interrupt: send ^C to interactive subprocess (win mode)
- MA highlights matching parens/brackets/braces
- Shift-B3 is equivalent to B2
- Acquiring (B3) an existing window doesn't warp mouse to current 
- The "Local" command toggles a state whether directories are 
  opened in the current window or in a new one
- "Abort" terminates, like "Del", but with an exit status of 1
- "Wrap" toggles between word-wrapping and char-wrapping.


* Remember that you have filename completion (^F) everywhere
* Select command in tag and B2 to use it like a custom button, this
  is especially useful in win-mode, by adding often repeated 
  commands in the tag
* In interactive programs running in a "win" window, any command or
  line of commands can be B2-clicked to insert it when input is 
  requested, this also works for B2B1 chords.
* Avoid the console, a temporary guide file with commands reduces 
* Select and B2 "<cat FILENAME" to insert into current position
* use "env ... COMMAND" to override env-vars when using B3
* Command/work files can be used for other contexts 
  - just ensure the target window is activated
* Double-click words to quickly select them and avoid sweeping
* Quote or parenthesize commands that contain whitespace
* Addresses like "FILENAME:/.../" or "FILENAME:LINE" can be used 
  as simple hyperlinks
* B3 label in tag to select all text
* The tag can also be B2'd to execute a script you're working on
  (MA automatically saves as executable, if a she-bang line exists)
* You can write directly into directory windows and sweep (or B2B1)
  to execute commands on files, use "Get" command to refresh
* You can also simply enter and B2 commands into an "+Errors" window
* Double-B1 after end of line selects whole line for execution
* Use unique marker to separate sections in guide files to quickly 
  jump around through use of B3

All of MA's source code is hereby placed in the public domain


    Thanks to:

        Lucas Sköldqvist for various tips and suggestions.
        Kooda for fixing the completely broken implementation of 
        pty.c, also fixed a problem with paren-matching in Tk 8.6.
        "mujo" for adding several improvements and corrections.

Version history:

    - Esc selects newly typed text since last mouse button release
      (not press).
    - Increased scroll amount for Prior/Next keys.
    - Added "-fixed" command line option.
    - After tag-relayout, sensure insertion point in body remains
    - The "pty" program passed the exit-status through to the
    - When parsing a command line, the command may be enclosed in
      single or double quotes.
    - Use %K for detecting closing paren/bracket/brace instead of
      %A (thanks to Kooda).
    - Added "Abort" command.
    - B2 on scroll bar takes center of "thumb" as reference point.
    - Added "Wrap" command.
    - Fixed bug in Broadcast procedure (used in "Putall")

    - Saving into a nonexistent directory failed with an error instead of creating
       directories as needed.
    - The cursor shape is now the default left-pointing arrow on all platforms
      (thanks to "mujo")
    - Undo/Redo always applies to window body (fixed by "mujo")
    - Double-click B1B2 mousechord works now ("mujo", again)

    - Fixed a bug in "plumb" that caused a successful exit status even
      if no rule matched.
    - Separated variable and fixed font states.
    - Reversed the scrollbar colors, as in acme/sam/rio.
    - The "Insert" key does filename-completion, as alternative to Ctrl-F.
    - B1/B3 in scrollbar has "autorepeat", using dynamically adjusted 

    - B2 in win mode is equivalent to "Send" command.
    - Reduced some unnecessary "Flash"ing.
    - Executing with redirection keeps the result selected.
    - Getting the effective selection worked only when target widget had focus,
      resulting in selection/pseudoselection confusion.
    - In "win" mode the "Interrupt" command inserts ^C into the input stream.
    - Directory view should now format columns correctly after window has been
      shown for the first time.
    - Fixed a problem with plumbing a string beginning with Tcl redirection
    - If the result-string of a remote call via "ma-eval" is empty, no 
      output is produced.
    - The registry resolved symlinks before locating a file.
    - Executing with "|" or "<" tries to keep visible area.

    - Added "Local" command (suggested by C-Keen).
    - Attempt to optimize <<Selection>> event handler which seems to be slow
      on ssome machines.
    - B2 can now be used to abort B3-sweeping.
    - When "scroll" mode is off, try to keep start of output received by every external
       command at top of screen.
    - Pressing <Delete> sends SIGINT instead of SIGKILL now.
    - The "pty" programm catches SIGINT and propagates it to the process group.
    - Location of existing windows via registry handles spaces in directory names
    - Filenames with single quote in label are correctly quoted using double quotes.
    - Execution with redirection always uses body selection or whole body.
    - Dropped the "Replace" command (use an external tools like sed(1) or "LR"
      from ma-utils).
    - Re-activation of directory window refreshes contents.

    - C-k on end of line just deletes the newline and doesn't overwrite the cut buffer.
    - On-demand update of tag for "Put", "Back".
    - added read and write hooks.
    - "Look" doesn't warp mouse pointer.
    - All MA windows that are not directory listings or output windows track "dirty" state.
    - "Put <name>" always saves, regardless of the type of window.
    - Dotfiles command for directories.
    - Added several hooks for integrating the directory editor (diredit.tcl).
    - New files have a default name ("<unnamed>").
    - Removed tag marker, "dirty" state is indicated by tag font style (italic).
    - Double-B1 on empty line does not highlight line.
    - Extracted plumbing into separate tool ("plumb").
    - If the label is changed and the file does not exist yet, save text even if unmodified.
    - Removed "Wrap" and default to char-wrapping.
    - Renaming and saving output window properly reregisters the window.

    - When the label is updated, set the windows' title accordingly (suggested by Lucas Sköldqvist.)
    - added termination_hook.
    - Always enable word-wrap in win mode.
    - Computing the word under the cursor ignores the label marker character.
    - Added "Back" command to move insertion mark back to old position after search.
    - Replaced pty.c with a version that doesn't eat CPU time and is much simpler (thanks to

    - Corrected initial tag relayout.
    - Resizing scrolls to bottom if "scroll" mode is on.
    - Dropped "-noscroll" option, added "-scroll".
    - Filename completion adds final "/" for directory only if it doesn't need quoting.
    - Added "name_hook", moved "project" files into extension.
    - Replaces some message-boxes with marked text in +Errors window.
    - Revertion shows message when file is modified, similar to "Del".
    - "Wrap" command is shown in tag by default.    
    - "Get FNAME" checks whether the current file is modified.

    - "New" starts new instance in current context.
    - "Send" just appends at end (as in acme).
    - Added "Putall".
    - final delimiter in "/.../" + "?...?" addresses is optional now.
    - switching to existing window via B3 warps mouse pointer to current selection
      or insertion point.
    - got rid of spurious newlines in tag that where sometimes added.
    - directory listing quotes with "\"", when filename includes "\''".
    - text in tag window wraps correctly when the window is resized.
    - ESC selects up to insertion point at last mouse click, not the clicked location.
    - the "dirty" marker is filtered out in most cases of clicking the label.
    - (mostly) correct handling of backspace when entering passwords in win-mode.
    - B1B2B3 leaves file unmodified.
    - C-k snarfs deleted text.
    - B1-doubleclick in the empty space after a text line selects the complete line.

    - added some improvements in built-in plumbing rules.
    - the registry logs its actions inside its own text body.
    - the scroll-area is grayed in "scroll" mode.
    - failure to open file outputs error in "+Errors" window.
    - auto-detection of line-end translation, CRNL line-temrinators are preserved.
    - fixed problems in some uses of "catch" which didn't properly evaluate their arguments.
    - directory listings quote filenames, when necessary.
    - running subprocesses are now not killed on termination.
    - added MA_LABEL environment variable for subprocesses.
    - a clicked word does not include parentheses or brackets/braces now.
    - the history file is now made user-accessible only when written.
    - added (crude) support for password entry in win-mode.
    - added "-fontstyle" option.

    - initial release.