3.4 How to Prepare Input Files: Text Editors

To be useful, a file will be given as input to a specific application program, such as Maple, a powerful symbolic algebra program. This means that Maple will read the file and act on any instructions in the file that Maple can understand. Therefore it is Maple, and not Unix, which is enforcing a particular format on the file. You can feed anything to Maple as input, but only files written in the Maple language will do anything useful.

How do you create a "maple file", or indeed any arbitrary text file? Not all programs under Unix have user-friendly interfaces, and some of them expect to be handed a file which you have created by "other means". What this really means is that you need a text editor.

A text editor is a program whose only purpose is to help you to create a file. The text editors (worth mentioning) available on this system are:

No text editor will tell you how to write, say, Maple language; nor will it enforce the rules of Maple syntax, etc. For that you must rely on Maple, or on the particular application which reads the file.

Keith Orpen, who is still writing this, would like to hear your comments and suggestions.