JOE - Joe's Own Editor



joe [global-options] [ [local-options] filename ]...
jstar [global-options] [ [local-options] filename ]...
jmacs [global-options] [ [local-options] filename ]...
rjoe [global-options] [ [local-options] filename ]...
jpico [global-options] [ [local-options] filename ]...


JOE is a powerful console screen editor. It has a "mode-less" user interface which is similar to many user-friendly PC editors. Users of Micro-Pro's WordStar or Borland's "Turbo" languages will feel at home. JOE is a full featured UNIX screen-editor though, and has many features for editing programs and text.

JOE also emulates several other editors. JSTAR is a close imitation of WordStar with many "JOE" extensions. JPICO is a close imitation of the Pine mailing system's PICO editor, but with many extensions and improvements. JMACS is a GNU-EMACS imitation. RJOE is a restricted version of JOE, which allows you to edit only the files specified on the command line.

Although JOE is actually five different editors, it still requires only one executable, but one with five different names. The name of the editor with an "rc" appended gives the name of JOE's initialization file, which determines the personality of the editor.

JOE is free software; you can distribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation. JOE is available over the Internet from


To start the editor, type joe followed by zero or more names of files you want to edit. Each file name may be preceded by a local option setting (see the local options table which follows). Other global options, which apply to the editor as a whole, may also be placed on the command line (see the global options table which follows). If you are editing a new file, you can either give the name of the new file when you invoke the editor, or in the editor when you save the new file. A modified syntax for file names is provided to allow you to edit program output, standard input/output, or sections of files or devices. See the section Filenames below for details.

Once you are in the editor, you can type in text and use special control-character sequences to perform other editing tasks. To find out what the control-character sequences are, read the rest of this man page or type ^K H for help in the editor.

Now for some obscure computer-lore:

The ^ means that you hold down the Control key while pressing the following key (the same way the Shift key works for uppercase letters). A number of control-key sequences are duplicated on other keys, so that you don't need to press the control key: Esc will work in place of [, Del will work in place of ?, Backspace will work in place of ^H, Tab will work in place of ^I, Return or Enter will work in place of ^M and Linefeed will work in place of ^J. Some keyboards may give you trouble with some control keys. ^_, ^^ and ^@__ can usually be entered without pressing shift (i.e., try -, 6 and ^2). Other keyboards may reassign these to other keys. Try: ., , and /. Space can usually be used in place of ^@__. ^\ and ^] are interpreted by many communication programs, including telnet and kermit. Usually you just hit the key twice to get it to pass through the communication program.

On some keyboards, holding the Alt key down while pressing another key is the same as typing Esc before typing the other key.

Once you have typed ^K H, the first help window appears at the top of the screen. You can continue to enter and edit text while the help window is on. To page through other topics, hit Esc , and Esc . (that is, Esc , and Esc .). Use ^K H to dismiss the help window.

You can customize the keyboard layout, the help screens and a number of behavior defaults by copying JOE's initialization file (usually /etc/joe/joerc) to .joerc in your home directory and then by modifying it. See the section joerc below.

To have JOE used as your default editor for e-mail and News, you need to set the EDITOR and VISUAL environment variables in your shell initialization file (.cshrc or .profile) to refer to JOE (JOE usually resides as /usr/bin/joe).

There are a number of other obscure invocation parameters which may have to be set, particularly if your terminal screen is not updating as you think it should. See the section Environment variables below.

## Command Line Options

These options can also be specified in the joerc file. Local options can be set depending on the file-name extension. Programs (.c, .h or .p extension) usually have autoindent enabled. Wordwrap is enabled on other files, but rc files have it disabled.

An option is enabled when it's given like this:


An option is disabled when it's given like this:


Some options take arguments. Arguments are given like this:

-lmargin 5

The following global options may be specified on the command line:

The following local options may be specified on the command line:

For example, "begin=end:if=elif=else=endif" means that ^G will jump between the matching if, elif, else and endif.

Colors and attributes

Combine attributes and up to one foreground color and one background color to create arguments for color options like text_color. For example: bold+bg_green+blue

With a 16 color or 256 color terminal emulator (export TERM=xterm-16color), these brighter than normal colors become available:

Note that you need an xterm which was compiled to support 16 or 256 colors and a matching termcap/terminfo entry for it.

With a 256 color terminal emulator (export TERM=xterm-256color), these become available:

Note that you need an xterm which was compiled to support 256 colors and a matching termcap/terminfo entry for it.

Status line definition strings

-lmsg defines the left-justified string and -rmsg defines the right-justified string. The first character of -rmsg is the background fill character.

-smsg defines the status command (^K Space). -zmsg defines it when the cursor is at the end of the file. The last character of smsg or zmsg is the fill character.

The following escape sequences can be used in these strings:

%t  12 hour time
%u  24 hour time
%T  O for overtype mode, I for insert mode
%W  W if wordwrap is enabled
%I  A if autoindent is enabled
%X  Rectangle mode indicator
%n  File name
%m  '(Modified)' if file has been changed
%*  '*' if file has been changed
%R  Read-only indicator
%r  Row (line) number
%c  Column number
%o  Byte offset into file
%O  Byte offset into file in hex
%a  Ascii value of character under cursor
%A  Ascii value of character under cursor in hex
%w  Width of character under cursor
%p  Percent of file cursor is at
%l  No. lines in file
%k  Entered prefix keys
%S  '*SHELL*' if there is a shell running in window
%M  Macro recording message
%y  Syntax
%e  Encoding
%x  Context (first non-indented line going backwards)
%dd day
%dm month
%dY year
%Ename%  value of environment variable
%Tname%  value of option (ON or OFF for Boolean options)

These formatting escape sequences may also be given:

\i  Inverse
\u  Underline
\b  Bold
\d  Dim
\f  Blink
\l  Italic
\s  Strikeout
\z  Double underline

Basic Editing

When you type characters into the editor, they are normally inserted into the file being edited (or appended to the file if the cursor is at the end of the file). This is the normal operating mode of the editor. If you want to replace some existing text, you have to delete the old text before or after you type in the replacement text. The Backspace key can be used for deleting text: move the cursor to right after the text you want to delete and hit Backspace a number of times.

Hit the Enter or Return key to insert a line-break. For example, if the cursor was in the middle of a line and you hit Enter, the line would be split into two lines with the cursor appearing at the beginning of the second line. Hit Backspace at the beginning of a line to eliminate a line-break.

Use the arrow keys to move around the file. If your keyboard doesn't have arrow keys (or if they don't work for some reason), use ^F to move forwards (right), ^B to move backwards (left), ^P to move to the previous line (up), and ^N to move to the next line (down). The right and left arrow keys simply move forwards or backwards one character at a time through the text: if you're at the beginning of a line and you press left-arrow, you will end up at the end of the previous line. The up and down arrow keys move forwards and backwards by enough characters so that the cursor appears in the same column that it was in on the original line.

If you want to indent the text you enter, you can use the Tab key. This inserts a special control character which makes the characters which follow it begin at the next tab stop. Tab stops normally occur every 8 columns, but this can be changed with the ^T D command. PASCAL and C programmers often set tab stops on every 4 columns.

If for some reason your terminal screen gets messed up (for example, if you receive a mail notice from biff), you can have the editor refresh the screen by hitting ^R.

There are many other keys for deleting text and moving around the file. For example, hit ^D to delete the character the cursor is on instead of deleting backwards like Backspace. ^D will also delete a line-break if the cursor is at the end of a line. Type ^Y to delete the entire line the cursor is on or ^J to delete just from the cursor to the end of the line.

Hit ^A to move the cursor to the beginning of the line it's on. Hit ^E to move the cursor to the end of the line. Hit ^U or ^V for scrolling the cursor up or down 1/2 a screen's worth.
"Scrolling" means that the text on the screen moves, but the cursor stays at the same place relative to the screen. Hit ^K U or ^K V to move the cursor to the beginning or the end of the file. Look at the help screens in the editor to find even more delete and movement commands.

If you make a mistake, you can hit ^_ to "undo" it. On most keyboards you hit just ^- to get _, but on some you might have to hold both the Shift and Control keys down at the same time to get it. If you "undo" too much, you can "redo" the changes back into existence by hitting ^ (type this with just ^6 on most keyboards).

Cursor position history

If you were editing in one place within the file, and you then temporarily had to look or edit some other place within the file, you can get back to the original place by hitting ^K -. This command actually returns you to the last place you made a change in the file. You can step through a history of places with ^K - and ^K =, in the same way you can step through the history of changes with the "undo" and "redo" commands.

Save and exit

When you are done editing the file, hit ^K X to exit the editor. You will be prompted for a file name if you hadn't already named the file you were editing.

When you edit a file, you actually edit only a copy of the file. So if you decide that you don't want the changes you made to a file during a particular edit session, you can hit ^C to exit the editor without saving them.

If you edit a file and save the changes, a backup copy of that file is created in the current directory, with a ~ appended to the name, which contains the original version of the file.

File operations

You can hit ^K D to save the current file (possibly under a different name from what the file was called originally). After the file is saved, you can hit ^K E to edit a different file.

If you want to save only a selected section of the file, see the section on Blocks below.

If you want to include another file in the file you're editing, use ^K R to insert it.

### Filenames

Wherever JOE expects you to enter a file name, whether on the command line or in prompts within the editor, you may also type:

To read or write data to or from a shell command. For example, use joe '!ls' to get a copy of your directory listing to edit or from within the editor use ^K D !mail to send the file being edited to me.

Use this to have JOE append the edited text to the end of the file "filename."

Use this to access a fixed section of a file or device. START and SIZE may be entered in decimal (ex.: 123) octal (ex.: 0777) or hexadecimal (ex.: 0xFF). For example, use joe /dev/fd0,508,2 to edit bytes 508 and 509 of the first floppy drive in Linux.

Use this to get input from the standard input or to write output to the standard output. For example, you can put JOE in a pipe of commands: quota -v | joe | mail root, if you want to complain about your low quota.

Using JOE in a shell script

JOE used to use /dev/tty to access the terminal. This caused a problem with idle-session killers (they would kill JOE because the real tty device was not being accessed for a long time), so now JOE only uses /dev/tty if you need to pipe a file into JOE, as in:

echo "hi" | joe

If you want to use JOE in a shell script which has its stdin/stdout redirected, but you do not need to pipe to it, you should simply redirect JOE's stdin/stdout to /dev/tty:

joe filename  </dev/tty >/dev/tty

Word wrap and formatting

If you type past the right edge of the screen in a C or PASCAL language file, the screen will scroll to the right to follow the cursor. If you type past the right edge of the screen in a normal file (one whose name doesn't end in .c, .h or .p), JOE will automatically wrap the last word onto the next line so that you don't have to hit Enter. This is called word-wrap mode. Word-wrap can be turned on or off with the ^T W command. JOE's initialization file is usually set up so that this mode is automatically turned on for all non-program files. See the section below on the joerc file to change this and other defaults.

Aside for Word-wrap mode, JOE does not automatically keep paragraphs formatted like some word-processors. Instead, if you need a paragraph to be reformatted, hit ^K J. This command "fills in" the paragraph that the cursor is in, fitting as many words in a line as is possible. A paragraph, in this case, is a block of text separated above and below by a blank line.

The margins which JOE uses for paragraph formatting and word-wrap can be set with the ^T L and ^T R commands. If the left margin is set to a value other than 1, then when you start typing at the beginning of a line, the cursor will immediately jump to the left margin.

There are a number of options which control the paragraph reformatter and word wrapper:


If you want to center a line within the margins, use the ^K A command.

Spell checker

Hit Esc N to check the spelling of the word the cursor is on using the aspell program (or ispell program if you modify the joerc file). Hit Esc L to check the highlighted block or the entire file if no block is highlighted.

JOE passes the language and character encoding to the spell checker. To change the language, hit ^T V. For example, use en_US for English.

Overtype mode

Sometimes it's tiresome to have to delete old text before or after you insert new text. This happens, for example, when you are changing a table and you want to maintain the column position of the right side of the table.
When this occurs, you can put the editor in overtype mode with ^T T.
When the editor is in this mode, the characters you type in replace existing characters, in the way an idealized typewriter would. Also, Backspace simply moves left instead of deleting the character to the left, when it's not at the end or beginning of a line. Overtype mode is not the natural way of dealing with text electronically, so you should go back to insert-mode as soon as possible by typing ^T T again.

If you need to insert while you're in overtype mode, hit __^@__. This inserts a single Space into the text.

Control and Meta characters

Each character is represented by a number. For example, the number for 'A' is 65 and the number for '1' is 49. All of the characters which you normally see have numbers in the range of 32 - 126 (this particular arbitrary assignment between characters and numbers is called the ASCII character set). The numbers outside of this range, from 0 to 255, aren't usually displayed, but sometimes have other special meanings. The number 10, for example, is used for the line-breaks. You can enter these special, non-displayed control characters by first hitting ^Q and then hitting a character in the range @ A B C ... X Y Z [ ^ ] \ _ to get the number 0 - 31, and ? to get 127. For example, if you hit ^Q J, you'll insert a line-break character, or if you hit ^Q I, you'll insert a Tab character (which does the same thing the Tab key does). A useful control character to enter is 12 (^Q L), which causes most printers to advance to the top of the page. You'll notice that JOE displays this character as an underlined L. You can enter the characters above 127, the meta characters, by first hitting ^\. This adds 128 to the next (possibly control) character entered. JOE displays characters above 128 in inverse-video. Some foreign languages, which have more letters than English, use the meta characters for the rest of their alphabet. You have to put the editor in asis mode to have these passed untranslated to the terminal.

Note: JOE now normally passes all 8-bits to the terminal unless the locale is set to C or POSIX. If the locale is C or POSIX, then the asis flag determines if meta characters are shown in inverse video or passed directly to the terminal.

Note: In older version of JOE, you had to use Esc ' to enter control characters.

Character sets and UTF-8

JOE natively handles two classes of character sets: UTF-8 and byte coded (like ISO-8859-1). For these character sets, the file is loaded as-is into memory, and is exactly preserved during save, even if it contains UTF-8 coding errors.

It can not yet natively handle other major classes such as UTF-16 or GB2312. There are other restrictions: character sets must use LF (0x0A) or CR-LF (0x0D - 0x0A) as line terminators, space must be 0x20 and tab must be 0x09. Basically, the files must be UNIX or MS-DOS compatible text files.

This means EBCDIC will not work properly (but you would need to handle fixed record length lines anyway) and character sets which use CR terminated lines (MACs) will not yet work.

JOE now supports UTF-16 (both big endian and little endian). It supports UTF-16 by converting to UTF-8 during load, and converting back to UTF-16 during save.

The terminal and the file can have different encodings. JOE will translate between the two. Currently, one of the two must be UTF-8 for translation to work.

The character set for the terminal and the default character set assumed for files is determined by the 'LC_ALL' environment variable (and if that's not set, LC_CTYPE and LANG are also checked).

For example, if LC_ALL is set to:


Then the character set will be ISO-8859-1.

If LC_ALL is set to:


The character set will be UTF-8.

Hit ^T E to change the coding for the file. Hit Tab Tab at this prompt to get a list of available codings. There are a number of built-in character sets, plus you can install character sets in the ~/.joe/charmaps and /usr/share/joe/charmaps directories.

Check: /usr/share/i18n/charmaps for example character set files. Only byte oriented character sets will work. Also, the file should not be gzipped (all of the charmap files in /usr/share/i18n/charmaps on my computer were compressed). The parser is very bad, so basically the file has to look exactly like the example one in /usr/share/joe/charmaps.

You can hit ^K Space to see the current character set.

You can hit ^Q x to enter a Unicode character if the file coding is UTF-8.


Most prompts record a history of the responses you give them. You can hit up and down arrow to step through these histories.

Prompts are actually single line windows with no status line, so you can use any editing command that you normally use on text within the prompts. The prompt history is actually just other lines of the same "prompt file". Thus you can can search backwards though the prompt history with the normal ^K F command if you want.

Since prompts are windows, you can also switch out of them with ^K P and ^K N.

Completion and selection menus

You can hit Tab in just about any prompt to request JOE to complete the word you are typing. If JOE beeps, there are either no completions or many. As with the "bash" shell, hit Tab twice to bring up a list of all the possibilities. This list is actually a menu, but by default, the cursor does not jump into it since it is usually easier to just type in your selection. You can, however, jump into the menu window with ^K P (move to previous window) and use the arrow keys and <Enter> to make your selection. Also in a menu, you can hit the first letter of any of the items to make the cursor jump directly to it. The ^T option menu works like this.

If the menu is too large to fit in the window, you can hit Page Up and Page Down to scroll it (even if you have not jumped into it).

Tab completion works in the search and replace prompts as well. In this case, JOE tries to complete the word based on the contents of the buffer. If you need search for the Tab character itself, you can enter it with ^Q Tab.

Also, you can hit Esc Enter in a text window to request JOE to complete the word you are typing. As with the search prompt, JOE tries to complete the word based on the contents of the buffer. It will bring up a menu of possibilities if you hit Esc Enter twice.

Where am I?

Hit ^K Space to have JOE report the line number, column number, and byte number on the last line of the screen. The number associated with the character the cursor is on (its ASCII code) is also shown. You can have the line number and/or column number always displayed on the status line by placing the appropriate escape sequences in the status line setup strings. Edit the joerc file for details.

What if I hit ^K by accident?

Hit the space bar. This runs an innocuous command (it shows the line number on the status bar).

Temporarily suspending the editor

If you need to temporarily stop the editor and go back to the shell, hit ^K Z. You might want to do this to stop whatever you're editing and answer an e-mail message or read this man page, for example. You have to type fg or exit (you'll be told which when you hit ^K Z) to return to the editor.

Searching for text

Hit ^K F to have the editor search forwards or backwards for a text fragment (string) for you. You will be prompted for the text to search for. After you hit Enter, you are prompted to enter options.
You can just hit Enter again to have the editor immediately search forwards for the text, or you can enter one or more of these options:

Search backwards instead of forwards.

Treat uppercase and lower case letters as the same when searching. Normally uppercase and lowercase letters are considered to be different.

(where nnn is a number) If you enter a number, JOE searches for the Nth occurrence of the text. This is useful for going to specific places in files structured in some regular manner.

Replace text. If you enter the r option, then you will be further prompted for replacement text. Each time the editor finds the search text, you will be prompted as to whether you want to replace the found search text with the replacement text. You hit: y to replace the text and then find the next occurrence, n to not replace this text, but to then find the next occurrence, r to replace all of the remaining occurrences of the search text in the remainder of the file without asking for confirmation (subject to the nnn option above), or ^C to stop searching and replacing.

You can also hit B or Backspace to back up to the previously found text (if it had been replaced, the replacement is undone).

The search covers all loaded buffers. So to replace all instances of "foo" with "bar" in all .c files in the current directory:

joe *.c
   ^K F
       foo <Enter>
       ra <Enter>
       bar <Enter>

The search covers all files in the grep or make error list. You can use a UNIX command to generate a list of files and search and replace through the list. So to replace all instances of "foo" with "bar" in all .c files which begin with f. You can also use "ls" and "find" instead of grep to create the file list.

Esc G
  grep -n foo f*.c <Enter>
^K F
       foo <Enter>
   re <Enter>
   bar <Enter>

JOE will use the standard syntax for regular expressions if this option is given. In the standard syntax, these characters have their special meanings directly, and do not have to be escaped with backslash: ., *, +, ?, {, }, (, ), |, ^, $ and [.

JOE will use the JOE syntax for regular expressions instead of the standard syntax. This overrides the "-regex" option.

JOE will send debug information about the regular expression to the startup log. The log can be viewed with the showlog command.

You can hit ^L to repeat the previous search.

You can hit ^K H at the search and replace options prompt to bring up a list of all search and replace options.

Regular Expressions

A number of special character sequences may be entered as search text:

This finds zero or more of the item to the left. For example, if you give AB\*C as the search text, JOE will try to find an A followed by any number of Bs, and then a C.

This finds one or more of the item to the left. For example, if you give AB\+C as the search text, JOE will try to find an A followed by one or more Bs, and then a C.

This indicates that the item to the left is optional. For example, if you give AB\?C as the search text, JOE will find AC or ABC.

This indicates that JOE should try to find a string with a specific number of occurrences of the item to the left. For example, AX\{2,5}B will match these strings: AXXB, AXXXB, AXXXXB, and AXXXXXB. Min can be left out to indicate 0 occurrences. Max (and the comma) can be left out to indicate any number of occurrences.

This finds exactly one character. For example, if you give A\.B as the search text, JOE will find AXB, but not AB or AXXB.

This works like ., but matches a balanced C-language expression. For example, if you search for malloc(\!\*), then JOE will find all function calls to malloc, even if there was a ) within the parenthesis.

This finds the item on the left or the item on the right. For example, if you give A\|B as the search text, JOE will try to find either an A or a B.

Use these to group characters together. For example, if you search for \(foo\)\+, then JOE will find strings like "foo", and "foofoofoo".

These match the beginnings and endings of lines. For example, if you give ^test$, then JOE with find test on a line by itself.

These match the beginnings and endings of words. For example, if you give <is\>, then JOE will find the word "is" but will not find the "is" in "this".

This matches any single character which appears within the brackets. For example, if \[Tt]his is entered as the search string, then JOE finds both This and this. Ranges of characters can be entered within the brackets. For example, \[A-Z] finds any uppercase letter. If the first character given in the brackets is ^, then JOE tries to find any character not given in the the brackets. To include - itself, include it as the last or first character (possibly after ^).

Matches a single \.

This finds the special end-of-line or line-break character.

A number of special character sequences may also be given in the replacement string:

This gets replaced by the text which matched the search string. For example, if the search string was <\*\>, which matches words, and you give "\&", then JOE will put quote marks around words.

These get replaced with the text which matched the Nth grouping; the text within the Nth set of \( \).

Convert the next character of the replacement text to lowercase or uppercase.

Convert all following replacement text to lowercase or uppercase. Conversion stops when \E is encountered.

Use this if you need to put a \ in the replacement string.

Use this if you need to put a line-break in the replacement string.

Some examples:

Suppose you have a list of addresses, each on a separate line, which starts with "Address:" and has each element separated by commas. Like so:

Address: S. Holmes, 221b Baker St., London, England

If you wanted to rearrange the list, to get the country first, then the city, then the person's name, and then the address, you could do this:

Type ^K F to start the search, and type:


to match "Address:", the four comma-separated elements, and then the end of the line. When asked for options, you would type r to replace the string, and then type:


To shuffle the information the way you want it. After hitting return, the search would begin, and the sample line would be changed to:

Address: England, London, S. Holmes, 221b Baker St.

### Escape sequences

JOE understands the following escape sequences withing search and replacement strings:

This matches a specific Unicode code point given in hexadecimal.

This matches a specific character specified in hexadecimal.

This matches a specific character specified in octal.

This matches any character in the named Unicode category or block.

The block names, such as "Latin-1 Supplement" or "Arabic" can be found here:

Unicode Blocks

The category names such as "Ll" can be found here:

Unicode Categories

Note that a single letter matches all of the category names which start with that letter. For example, \p{N} (any number) include \p{Nd} (decimal digit), \p{Nl} (letter number) and \p{No} (other number).

This matches any Unicode digit. This is the same as \p{Nd}.

This matches anything except for a Unicode digit. This is the same as \[^\p{Nd}].

This matches any word character. This is the same as \[^\p{C}\p{P}\p{Z}].

This matches anything except for a word character. This is the same as \[\p{C}\p{P}\p{Z}].

This matches any space character. This is the same as \[\t\r\f\n\p{Z}].

This matches anything except for a spacing character. This is the same as \[^\t\r\f\n\p{Z}].

This matches an identifier start character. This is the same as \[\p{L}\p{Pc}\p{Nl}].

This matches anything except for an identifier start character. This is the same as \[^\p{L}\p{Pc}\p{Nl}].

This matches an identifier continuation character. This is the same as \[\i\p{Mn}\p{Mc}\p{Nd}\x{200c}\x{200d}].

This matches anything except for an identifier continuation character. This is the same as \[^\i\p{Mn}\p{Mc}\p{Nd}\x{200c}\x{200d}].

Use Esc S to start an increment search forwards, or Esc R to start an incremental search backwards. As you type the search string, the cursor will jump to the first text that matches the regular expression you have entered so far.

Hit Esc S or Esc R again to find the next occurrence of the text or to switch the direction of the search.

^S, ^\ and ^L have the same effect as Esc S. ^R has the same effect as Esc R. These keys are to support JMACS.

Hit Backspace to undo the last incremental search action. The last action could be a repeat of a previous search or the entering of a new character.

Use ^Q to insert control characters into the search text. Previously, ` could also be used for this.

Hit any other key to exit the increment search.

Goto matching delimiter

Hit ^G to jump between matching delimiters. This works on both character delimiters (like '(' and ')') and word delimiters for languages like Pascal and Verilog which use "begin" and "end" to delimit blocks. It also works for matching start and end tags in XML. If a word is not known, ^G starts a search with the word moved into the search prompt.

For ^G to work on word delimiters, the cursor must be positioned on the first letter of the word. So in XML, if the cursor is on the < in <foo>, it will jump to the >. But if it is one the 'f', it will jump to the matching </foo>. Likewise, in C, ^G will jump between #if, #else and #endif, but you need to position the cursor on the letter, not the '#'.

^G is smart enough to skip delimiters found in quoted or commented-out matter. You need to tell JOE how your language indicates this: see the ftyperc file for examples of how this is done.

The are a number of options which control the behavior of ^G. These options control which kinds of comments ^G can skip over:

These options determine which kinds of strings ^G can skip over:

This option allows an annotated syntax file to determine which text can be counted as comments or strings which can be skipped over by ^G:

This option enables the use of syntax files to identify comments and strings which should be skipped over during ^G matching. The syntax file states should be annotated with the string and comment keywords for this to work.

This option provides a list of word delimiters to match. For example, "begin=end:if=elif=else=endif" means that ^G will jump between the matching if, elif, else and endif. It will also jump between begin and end.

^G has a built-in table for matching character delimiters- it knows that ( goes with ).

^G has a built-in parser to handle start/end tag matching for XML.


If you want to move, copy, save or delete a specific section of text, you can do it with highlighted blocks. First, move the cursor to the start of the section of text you want to work on, and press ^K B. Then move the cursor to the character just after the end of the text you want to affect and press ^K K. The text between the ^K B and ^K K should become highlighted. Now you can move your cursor to someplace else in your document and press ^K M to move the highlighted text there.
You can press ^K C to make a copy of the highlighted text and insert it to where the cursor is positioned. ^K Y to deletes the highlighted text. ^K W, writes the highlighted text to a file.

A very useful command is ^K /, which filters a block of text through a UNIX command. For example, if you select a list of words with ^K B and ^K K, and then type ^K / sort, the list of words will be sorted. Another useful UNIX command for ^K /, is tr. If you type ^K / tr a-z A-Z, then all of the letters in the highlighted block will be converted to uppercase.

How do I deselect a highlighted region?

After you are finished with some region operations, you can just leave the highlighting on if you don't mind it (but don't accidentally hit ^K Y). If it really bothers you, however, just hit ^K B ^K K, to turn the highlighting off.

Beginning with JOE 4.2, you can hit ^C to cancel the region selection.

New ways of selecting regions

The classic way is to hit ^K B at the beginning and ^K K at the end. These set pointers called markb and markk. Once these are set you can jump to markb with Esc B and jump to markk with Esc K.

New way: hit Ctrl-Right Arrow to start selecting rightward. Each time you hit Ctrl-Right Arrow, the block is extended one more to the right. This uses a simple macro: "begin_marking,rtarw,toggle_marking".

Unfortunately, there is no standard way to get the keysequence given by the terminal emulator when you hit Ctrl-Right Arrow. Instead you have to determine this sequence yourself and enter it directly in the joerc file. Some examples are given for Xterm and gnome-terminal. Hit ^Q Ctrl-Right Arrow within JOE to have the sequence shown on your screen. Note that Putty uses Esc Esc [ C which will not appear with ^Q Right Arrow (also Esc Esc is the set bookmark command, so you need to unbind it to do this in Putty).

Also you can hit Ctrl-Delete to cut and Ctrl-Insert to paste if the sequence for these keys are known.

The mouse can also be used to select text if mouse support is enabled in JOE.

Indenting program blocks

Auto-indent mode is toggled with the ^T I command. The joerc file is normally set up so that files with names ending with .p, .c or .h have auto-indent mode enabled. When auto-indent mode is enabled and you hit Enter, the cursor will be placed in the same column that the first non-whitespace character was on in the original line.

You can use the ^K , and ^K . commands to shift a block of text to the left or right. If no highlighting is set when you give these commands, the program block (as indicated by indentation) that the cursor is located in will be selected, and will be moved by subsequent ^K , and ^K . commands.

The number of columns these commands shift by and the character used for shifting can be set through the istep and indentc options. These options are available in the ^T menu. Also, ^T = can be used to quickly select from a number of common values for indentation step and character.

JOE has a number of additional options related to indenting programs:

Rectangle mode

Type ^T X to have ^K B and ^K K select rectangular blocks instead of stream-of-text blocks. This is also known as columnar mode. This mode is useful for moving, copying, deleting or saving columns of text. You can also filter columns of text with the ^K / command- if you want to sort a column, for example. The insert file command, ^K R is also affected.

When rectangle mode is selected, overtype mode is also useful (^T T). When overtype mode is selected, rectangles will replace existing text instead of getting inserted before it. Also the delete block command (^K Y) will clear the selected rectangle with Spaces and Tabs instead of deleting it. Overtype mode is especially useful for the filter block command (^K /), since it will maintain the original width of the selected column.

Picture mode

Use ^T P to enter or exit picture mode. Picture mode helps with ASCII drawings.

Picture mode controls how JOE handles the case where the cursor is past the ends of lines. This happens when you use the up or down arrow keys to move the cursor from the end of a long line to a short line.

If you attempt to type a character in this case:

If picture mode is off, the cursor will jump to the end of the line and insert it there.

If picture mode is on, the line is filled with spaces so that the character can be inserted at the cursor position.


You can edit more than one file at the same time or edit two or more different places of the same file. To do this, hit ^K O, to split the screen into two windows. Use ^K P or ^K N to move the cursor into the top window or the lower window. Use ^K E to edit a new file in one of the windows. A window will go away when you save the file with ^K X or abort the file with ^C. If you abort a file which exists in two windows, one of the window goes away, not the file.

You can hit ^K O within a window to create even more windows. If you have too many windows on the screen, but you don't want to eliminate them, you can hit ^K I. This will show only the window the cursor is in, or if there was only one window on the screen to begin with, try to fit all hidden windows on the screen. If there are more windows than can fit on the screen, you can hit ^K N on the bottom-most window or ^K P on the top-most window to get to them.

If you gave more than one file name to JOE on the command line, each file will be placed in a different window.

You can change the height of the windows with the ^K G and ^K T commands.

Windowing system model

JOE has an unusual model for its windowing system. Basically you have a ring of windows, but only a section of this ring may fit on the screen. The windows not on the screen still exist, they are just scrolled off. When you hit ^K N on the bottom window of the screen, it scrolls further windows from the ring onto the screen, possibly letting the top window scroll out of view.

Native JOE tries to keep each loaded buffer in a window, so users can find all of the buffers by scrolling through the windows. The explode command (^K I) either expands all windows to the size of the screen so that only one window can fit on the screen, or shrinks them all as much as possible to fit many on the screen.

On the other hand, JOE supports "orphan" buffers- files loaded into the editor, but which are not in a window. ^C normally closes a window and discards the buffer that was in it. If you hit ^C on the last remaining window, it will normally exit the editor. However, if there are orphan buffers, ^C will instead load them into this final window to give you a chance to explicitly discard them. If the orphan option is given on the command line, as in __joe -orphan *.c__, then JOE only loads the first file into a window and leaves all the rest as orphans.

orphan also controls whether the edit command ^K E creates a new window for a newly loaded file, or reuses the current window (orphaning its previous occupant).

The bufed command prompts for a name of a buffer to switch into a window. Its completion list will show all buffers, including orphans and buffers which appear in other windows. Esc V and Esc U (nbuf and pbuf commands) allow you to cycle through all buffers within a single window.

Windows maintain a stack of occupants to support the pop-up shell window feature. When a pop-up window is dismissed, the previous buffer is returned to the window.

Scratch buffers

Scratch buffers are buffers which JOE does not worry about trying to preserve. JOE will not ask to save modified scratch buffers. Pop-up shell windows, the startup log and compile and grep message windows are scratch buffers. You can create your own scratch buffer with the scratch command.

The following commands load scratch buffers:

Keyboard macros

Macros allow you to record a series of keystrokes and replay them with the press of two keys. This is useful to automate repetitive tasks. To start a macro recording, hit ^K [ followed by a number from 0 to 9. The status line will display (Macro n recording...). Now, type in the series of keystrokes that you want to be able to repeat. The commands you type will have their usual effects. Hit ^K ] to stop recording the macro. Hit ^K followed by the number you recorded the macro in to execute one iteration of the key-strokes.

For example, if you want to put "**" in front of a number of lines, you can type:

^K [ 0 ^A ** ^K ]

Which starts the macro recording, moves the cursor to the beginning of the line, inserts "**", moves the cursor down one line, and then ends the recording. Since we included the key-strokes needed to position the cursor on the next line, we can repeatedly use this macro without having to move the cursor ourselves, something you should always keep in mind when recording a macro.

Keyboard macro subroutines

If you find that the macro you are recording itself has a repeated set of key-strokes in it, you can record a macro within the macro, as long as you use a different macro number. Also you can execute previously recorded macros from within new macros.

Query suspend

If your macro includes a prompt for user input, and you want the user to fill in the prompt every time the macro is executed, hit ^K ? at the point in the macro recording where the user action is required. Keyboard input will not be recorded at this point. When the user completes the prompt, macro recording will continue.

When the macro is executed, the macro player will pause at the point where ^K ? was entered to allow user input. When the user completes the prompt, the player continues with the rest of the macro.


You can use the repeat command, ^K \, to repeat a macro, or any other edit command or even a normal character, a specified number of times. Hit ^K \, type in the number of times you want the command repeated and press Enter. The next edit command you now give will be repeated that many times. For example, to delete the next 20 lines of text, type:

^K \ 20^Y

Macros and commands

A macro is a comma separated list of commands. When the macro is executed, each command is executed until either the end of the list is reached, or one of the commands fails (non-zero return value from the command). Failed commands beep if you have beeps enabled (^T B).

Hit Esc D to insert the current set of keyboard macros as text into the current buffer. For example, the "**" insert macro above looks like this:

home,"**",dnarw ^K 0    Macro 0

You could insert this into your .joerc file and change the key sequence (the K 0) to something more permanent.

Define your own

You can bind macros to key sequences or define your own named macros in the joerc file. For example, this will define a macro called foo:

:def foo eof,bol

foo will position the cursor at the beginning of the last line of the file. eof jumps to the end of the file. bol jumps to the beginning of a line. Once a macro has been named this way it will show up in the completion list of the Esc X command prompt.

Command prompt

You can execute a macro directly by typing it into the command prompt. Hit Esc X to bring up the command prompt. Hit Tab at this prompt for a completion list of all available commands.

Here is a complete list of commands.

Macro don't stop modifier

Sometimes, you expect commands to sometimes fail, but want the rest of the commands in the list to be executed anyway. To mark a command which is allowed to fail, postfix it with '!'. For example, here a macro which hits down page in the window above:


If prevw fails, the macro is aborted as usual. Even if pgdn fails (already at end of buffer), nextw will be executed so that the cursor is returned to the original window.

Macro repeat argument modifiers

Repeat arguments can be specified with ^K \. When a command is executed with a repeat argument, it is repeatedly executed the specified number of times. If the repeat argument is negative, an opposite command (if one exists) is executed instead. For example, if you repeat "rtarw" -3 times, "ltarw" will be repeated 3 times. If a negative argument is given for a command which does not have an opposite, the repeat argument is ignored.

Normally, if a repeat argument is specified for a macro, the macro is simply repeated the given number of times. If a negative argument is given, the argument is ignored.

Sometimes you want to allow negative arguments for macros and have their behavior modified. To do this, postfix each command within the macro which should be switched to its opposite for negative arguments with '-'. For example, here is the page down other window macro:


Now if you execute this with an argument of -2, it will be repeated twice, but pgup will be executed instead of pgdn. (note that several postfix modifiers can be placed after each command).

Sometimes when a repeat argument is given to macro, you want only one of the commands in the list to be repeated, not the entire macro. This can be indicated as follows:


If this is executed with an argument of 2, prevw is executed once, pgdn is executed twice, and nextw is executed once.

Finally, even more complex semantics can be expressed with the "if" command:


When the macro is executed, the "arg" math variable is set to the given repeat argument. The "argset" variable is set to true if the user set an argument, even if it's 1. If no argument was given, argset is false.

If any command in the list is postfixed with ~ (if above), the macro is not repeated, even if there is an argument. 'arg' is still set to the given repeat count, however.

'psh'/'query' interaction

The 'psh' command saves the ^K B and ^K K positions on a stack. When the macro completes, (or when the 'pop' command is called) the positions are restored.

The 'query' command suspends macro execution until the current dialog is complete. It also suspends the automatic 'pop' which happens at the end of a macro- so if the macro ends in a dialog you often want to call 'query' to prevent the ^K B ^K K positions from being restored too early.

If you are editing a large C program with many source files, you can use the ctags program to generate a tags file. This file contains a list of program symbols and the files and positions where the symbols are defined.

First, create the tags file with the "ctags" program. For example:

ctags *.c *.h

This will create a file called "tags" in the current directory.

JOE looks for the "tags" file in the current directory. If there is none, it will try to open the file specified by the TAGS environment variable.

Paths in the tags file are always relative to location of the tags file itself.

The tags file contains a list of identifier definition locations in one of these formats:

identifier filename /search-expression/[;comments]

identifier filename ?search-expression?[;comments]

identifier filename line-number[;comments]

Some versions of ctags include class-names in the identifiers:


In this case, JOE will match on any of these strings:


Some versions of ctags include a filename in the identifier:


In this case JOE will only find the identifier if the buffer name matches the filename.

The search-expression is a vi regular expression, but JOE only supports the following special characters:

^ at the beginning means expression starts at beginning of line

$ at the end means expression ends at end of line

\x quote x (suppress meaning of /, ?, ^ or $)

Type ^K ; to bring up a tags search prompt. If the cursor had been on an identifier, the prompt is pre-loaded with it. Tab completion works in this prompt (it uses the tags file to find completions).

When you hit Enter, the tags search commences:

If there is one and only one match, JOE will jump directly to the definition.

If there are multiple matches, then the behavior is controlled by the notagsmenu option. If notagsmenu is enabled JOE jumps to the first definition. If you hit ^K ; again before hitting any other keys, JOE jumps to the next definition, and so on. The "tagjump" command also performs this function.

If notagsmenu is disabled, JOE brings up a menu of all the matches. You select the one you want and JOE jumps to it. If you hit ^K ; again before hitting any other keys, the same menu re-appears with the cursor left in the original location.

You can hit ^K - to move the cursor back to the original location before the tags search (often ^C will work as well).

Since ^K ; loads the definition file into the current window, you probably want to split the window first with ^K O, to have both the original file and the definition file loaded.


JOE has a built-in calculator which can be invoked with Esc M.

Math functions

sin, cos, tan, exp, sqrt, cbrt, ln, log, asin, acos, atan, sinh, cosh, tanh, asinh, acosh, atanh, int, floor, ceil, abs, erf, erfc, j0, j1, y0, y1



For example:

joe(sys,"[ 1 == 1 ]",rtn)

([ 1 == 1 ]) is a shell command. "[" is a synonym for the "test" UNIX command.

Returns true.

Remember: argument for JOE macro command "if" is a math expression. So for example, the macro:

if,"joe(sys,\"[ 1 == 1 ]\",rtn)",then,"TRUE",endif

Types TRUE into the buffer.


&&, || and ? : work as in C and sh as far as side effects: if the left side of && is false, the right side is not evaluated.

: is expression separator.

Shell windows

Hit ^K ' to run a command shell in one of JOE's windows. When the cursor is at the end of a shell window (use ^K V if it's not), whatever you type is passed to the shell instead of the buffer. Any output from the shell or from commands executed in the shell is appended to the shell window (the cursor will follow this output if it's at the end of the shell window). This command is useful for recording the results of shell commands- for example the output of make, the result of __grep__ping a set of files for a string, or directory listings from FTP sessions. Besides typeable characters, the keys ^C, Backspace, Del, Return and ^D are passed to the shell. Type the shell exit command to stop recording shell output. If you press ^C in a shell window, when the cursor is not at the end of the window, the shell is __kill__ed.

If you use Bash, you can hit: ^Q Up Arrow and ^Q Down Arrow to scroll through Bash's history buffer. Other keys work as well: try ^Q ^A to go to beginning of line or ^Q ^E to go to end of line. Unfortunately JOE only emulates a dumb terminal, so you have to use a lot of imagination to do any editing beyond hitting backspace.

In general, any character quoted with ^Q is sent to the shell.

Also sent to the shell: Tab, Backspace, Enter, ^C and ^D.

## Pop-up shell windows

Hit F1 - F4 to open and switch between shell windows.

Pop-up shell windows use a full terminal emulator so that when you type "man ls" it's formatted correctly (it works well enough so that some interactive programs can be used). Even so, the shell window is still an edit buffer.

The old shell window (with no terminal emulation) still exists: use ^K ' to invoke it as usual. This is useful to see control sequences emitted by a program.

More of the keys get passed to the running program in pop-up shell windows compared with the older one. There is a :vtshell section of the joerc file to control which ones. In particular arrow keys and Ctrl-C are passed to the program. It means you can easily step through bash history with the arrow keys, or abort programs the normal way with Ctrl-C.

On the other hand, loss of Ctrl-C means it's less obvious how to close the window. One way is to move the cursor off of the shell data entry point (with Ctrl-P), and then hit Ctrl-C. Another is to hit ^K Q. Finally, you can type 'pop' at the command prompt.

If you need to pass a key to the shell that JOE normally uses, quote it. For example, if you invoke "emacs -nw" in the shell window, you can exit it with:

^Q ^X ^C

To quickly position the cursor back to the point where data is entered into the shell, hit ^K V.

When you open a shell window, a JOE-specific startup-script is sourced. It's located in /etc/joe/ (also /etc/joe/shell.csh). It contains some aliases which allow you to control JOE with fake shell commands. I have these commands so far:

These work by emitting an escape sequence recognized by the terminal emulator: Esc { joe_macro }. When this is received, the macro is executed. For security, only macros defined in the joerc file which begin with "shell_" can be executed this way.

Use cases

Pop-up shell windows have a number of nice use cases:

        parse grep -n FIXME *.c


        markb; find . | xargs grep -n FIXME; markk; parse

(Note that you can't say this:

        parse find . | xargs grep -n FIXME

...the issue is that only the words to the left of the pipe symbol are passed as arguments to the parse command).

Now use ^P to position the cursor on one of the lines of the list. Hit Esc Space to have JOE edit the file and jump to the specified line (also you can use Esc - and Esc = to step through the list).

        ^K F
           Find: <text>
           Options: re
           Replace: <replacement text>

Easily capture errors from a build with:

        parserr make

Hit Esc = and Esc - to step through the errors.

How it works..

Compiler and grep/find parsers

JOE has two parsers which can be used to generate the error list (list of file names / line numbers).

The "parserr" command parses the entire buffer, or if the block is set, just the highighted block for compiler error messages. The messages should be in this format:

<junk> <junk> line-number <junk> : <junk>

The file name needs to be made of numbers, letters, '/', '.' and '-'. It must have at leat one '.' in it. There needs to be a colon somewhere after the line number. Lines not in this format are ignored.

The "gparse' command parses the entire buffer, or if the block is set, just the highlighted block for a list of filenames or filenames with line numbers from "grep -n", "find" and similar programs.




Once JOE has the error list, there are a number of things you can do with it:

Also, you can use Esc Space ('jump' command) to parse the line the cursor is on and jump to the parsed filename and line number. 'jump' uses the grep/find parser unless 'parserr' had been previously issued in the buffer.


Hit Esc G to bring up the prompt. Enter a command which results in file names with line numbers, for example: 'grep -n fred *.c'. This will list all instances of 'fred' in the *.c files. You need the '-n' to get the line numbers.

Now you can hit Esc Space on one of the lines to jump to the selected file. Also, you can use Esc = and Esc - to step through each line.


Hit Esc C to save all modified files and then bring up the compile prompt. Enter the command you want to use for the compiler (typically "make -w"). The compiler will run in a shell window. When it's complete, the results are parsed.

The '-w' flag should be given to "make" so that it prints messages whenever it changes directories. The message are in this format:

make[1]: Entering directory `/home/jhallen/joe-editor-mercurial/joe'

If there are any errors or warnings from the compiler you can hit Esc Space on one of the lines to jump to the selected file. Also, you can use Esc = and Esc - to step through each line.

Syntax highlighting

To enable highlight use ^T H.

To select the syntax, use ^T Y. You can hit Tab Tab at the prompt for a completion list.

JOE tries to determine the syntax to use based on the name and contents of the file. The configuration file /etc/joe/ftyperc contains the definitions.

Each syntax is defined by a file located /usr/share/joe/syntax/.

How JOE syntax highlighting works

from c.jsf, slightly modified

A deterministic state machine that performs lexical analysis of the target language is provided in a syntax file. (This is the "assembly language" of syntax highlighting. A separate program could in principal be used to convert a regular expression NFA syntax into this format).

Each state begins with:

:<name> <color-name> <context>

is the state's name.

is the color used for characters eaten by the state (really a symbol for a user definable color).

tells JOE if the current character is part of a comment or a string. This allows JOE to skip over comments and strings when matching characters such as parentheses. To use this feature, the highlighter_context option must be applied to the files highlighted by the corresponding syntax. To apply the option, add it to ftyperc for those file entries.

The valid contexts are:

The comment and string delimiters themselves should be marked with the appropriate context. The context is considered to be part of the color, so the recolor=-N and recolormark options apply the context to previous characters.

The first state defined is the initial state.

Within a state, define transitions (jumps) to other states. Each jump has the form:

    <character-list> <target-state-name> [<option>s]

There are three ways to specify s, either * for any character not otherwise specified, % or & to match the character in the delimiter match buffer (% matches the saved character exactly, while & matches the opposite character, for example ( will match ) when & is used) or a literal list of characters within quotes (ranges and escape sequences allowed: see Escape Sequences). When the next character matches any in the list, a jump to the target-state is taken and the character is eaten (we advance to the next character of the file to be colored).

The * transition should be the first transition specified in the state.

There are several options:

The format of the string list is:

    "string"   <target-state> [<options>s]
    "string"   <target-state> [<options>s]
    "&"        <target-state> [<options>s]   # matches contents of delimiter match buffer

(all of the options above are allowed except "strings", "istrings" and "noeat". noeat is always implied after a matched string).

Weirdness: only states have colors, not transitions. This means that you sometimes have to make dummy states with

    *    <next-state>    noeat

just to get a color specification.

Delimiter match buffer is for perl and shell: a regex in perl can be s<..>(...) and in shell you can say: <

Color schemes

Color classes are declared at the top of each syntax file, and referenced from each state. Previously, colors would be specified alongside each class in the syntax files, but they are now globally specified by color schemes. The syntax files will pull in all colors relevant to their languages by declaring them, optionally referencing other classes in case a class isn't specified by a color scheme. For example, this is typical:

=String +Constant
=Number +Constant

Both the String and Number classes can be defined by the color scheme. If they aren't, each will fall back to Constant, which is logically a superset of strings and numbers. More than one class can be referenced in a class declaration; JOE will pick the first one that is defined.

In this manner schemes can define a broad and generic set of color classes and syntax files can filter those into the color classes applicable to their languages. This assumes that syntaxes and color schemes follow a particular convention, which is laid out in syntax/

Color scheme files

Color scheme files are divided into sections based on the number of colors available to the terminal to support e.g. 256-color terminals vs 88-color terminals vs terminals with 24-bit color support. Each section starts with the .colors directive:

.colors 256
# 256-color terminal section
.colors *
# Truecolor terminal section

The above scheme would fail to load on a 16-color terminal. JOE will check if the COLORTERM environment variable is set to 24bit or truecolor to determine if a terminal supports 24 bit color, due to the fact that terminfo currently lacks this support. In Windows, JOE automatically supports 24 bit color.

Environment colors are specified as such:

-text <fg>/<bg> <attributes>

Where <fg> and <bg> are both optional, and can be any of:

Attributes can be bold, inverse, blink, dim, underline, italic, stricken and dunderline.

A number of environment colors can be changed:

These do not all need to be specified. -text defaults to the terminal's default foreground/background colors. Each other will pick up the value of -text (plus inverse in a few cases) if it is not specified.

When using pop-up terminals, JOE will remap colors 0-15 based on colors found in the scheme specified by -term <n> __color spec__.

The rest of the file is color classes that map into syntax colors. Color classes can be set by either:

=ClassName <color spec>
=syntaxname.ClassName <color spec>

In the second case, the color will only apply to the specified syntax.

Lastly, macros can be defined in color scheme files to simplify their maintenance. For example:

.set dark_blue 66
# ...
=Define [dark_blue]

References to dark_blue must be in brackets, and their values will be substituted by a simple string replacement before parsing the line (which means macros can contain any text, not just color values).

The joerc file

^T options, the help screens and the key-sequence to editor command bindings are all defined in JOE's initialization file. If you make a copy of this file (which normally resides in /etc/joe/joerc) to $HOME/.joerc, you can customize these setting to your liking. The syntax of the initialization file should be fairly obvious and there are further instructions in it.

The joerc file has a directive to include another file (:include). This facility is used to include a file called ftyperc (usually located in /etc/joe/ftyperc). ftyperc has the file type table which determines which local options (including syntax for the highlighter) are applied to each file type.

Initialization file loading sequence

If the path for an initialization file begins with '/' (you can specify this with the include directive), JOE only tries to load it from the absolute path. Otherwise, JOE tries to load initialization files (the joerc file and any files included in it, typically ftyperc) from three places:

If the system's joerc file is newer than the user's joerc file, JOE will print a warning in the startup log. Previous versions of JOE would prompt the user for this case- the idea was that JOE may be unusable with an out of date initialization file.

joerc file sections

The joerc file is broken up into a number of sections:

Key binding tables can inherit bindings from already defined tables. This allows you to group common key bindings into a single table which is inherited by the others.

Mode command

Many options can be controlled with the ^T menu. This menu is defined in the joerc file. Each option in the ^T menu just executes a macro. Usually the macro is the mode command. You can execute the mode command directly with:

Esc X mode <enter>

Hit Tab Tab for a completion list of all options.

This command calls up a named menu of macros which was defined in the joerc file.

Esc X menu <enter>

As usual, hit Tab Tab at the prompt for a completion list of the menus which exist.

^T is bound to the simple macro menu,"root",rtn- it brings up the root of the options menu system.

Xterm Mouse support

There are two levels of mouse support. The -mouse option enables the first level, which will work with any stock Xterm. If -joexterm is also set, mouse support is enhanced, but you need a recent version of XTerm, and it needs to be ./configured with the --enable-paste64 option.

When -mouse is set, you can:

Unfortunately, when -mouse is selected, cut and paste between X windows does not work as it normally does in a shell window (left-click and drag to select, middle click to paste). Instead, you have to hold the shift key down to do this: shift-left-click and drag to select, and shift-middle click to paste. Note that pasting text into JOE this way has problems: any ` characters will get messed up because ` means quote the following control character. Also if auto-indent is enabled, pasted text will not be indented properly.

Note: these problems with pasting have been resolved in recent versions of JOE.

When -joexterm is set (and you have ./configured Xterm with --enable-paste64):

--enable-paste64 allows an application program to communicate Base-64 encoded selection data to and from the Xterm. The program has full control over what is in the selection data and when it is received or sent.

Color Xterm support

JOE can make use of monochrome Xterm, 8-color Xterm, 16-color Xterm, 88-color Xterm and 256-color Xterm. The number of colors which Xterm supports is determined by which "configure" script options are set before the Xterm source code is compiled. The termcap or terminfo entry must support how your Xterm is configured. On my Slackware Linux distribution, you have to set the TERM environment variable to one of these:

If the termcap/terminfo entry is missing, you can add the "-assume_256color" option to the joerc file. Note that this was broken for terminfo in versions of JOE below 3.4.

When it is working, the command: "joe -assume_256color -text_color bg_222" should have a gray background.

Hex edit mode

When this mode is selected (either put -hex on the command line, or look for "Hex edit mode" after hitting ^T), the buffer is displayed as a hex dump, but all of the editing commands operate the same way. It is most useful to select overtype mode in conjunction with hex dump (hit ^T T). Then typing will not insert.

## Environment variables

For JOE to operate correctly, a number of other environment settings must be correct. The throughput (baud rate) of the connection between the computer and your terminal must be set correctly for JOE to update the screen smoothly and allow typeahead to defer the screen update. Use the stty nnn command to set this. You want to set it as close as possible to actual throughput of the connection. For example, if you are connected via a 1200 baud modem, you want to use this value for stty. If you are connected via 14.4k modem, but the terminal server you are connected to connects to the computer a 9600 baud, you want to set your speed as 9600 baud. The special baud rate of 38400 or extb is used to indicate that you have a very-high speed connection, such as a memory mapped console or an X-window terminal emulator. If you can't use stty to set the actual throughput (perhaps because of a modem communicating with the computer at a different rate than it's communicating over the phone line), you can put a numeric value in the BAUD environment variable instead (use setenv BAUD 9600 for csh or BAUD=9600; export BAUD for sh).

The TERM environment variable must be set to the type of terminal you're using. If the size (number of lines/columns) of your terminal is different from what is reported in the TERMCAP or TERMINFO entry, you can set this with the stty rows nn cols nn command, or by setting the LINES and COLUMNS environment variables. The terminal size is variable on modern systems and is determined by an ioctl, so these parameters often have no effect.

JOE normally expects that flow control between the computer and your terminal to use ^S/^Q handshaking (i.e., if the computer is sending characters too fast for your terminal, your terminal sends ^S to stop the output and ^Q to restart it). If the flow control uses out-of-band or hardware handshaking or if your terminal is fast enough to always keep up with the computer output and you wish to map ^S/^Q to edit commands, you can set the environment variable NOXON to have JOE attempt to turn off ^S/^Q handshaking. If the connection between the computer and your terminal uses no handshaking and your terminal is not fast enough to keep up with the output of the computer, you can set the environment variable DOPADDING to have JOE slow down the output by interspersing PAD characters between the terminal screen update sequences.

Here is a complete list of the environment variables:

## JOE commands grouped by function

These commands can be entered at the Esc X prompt.

Background programs



Cursor Motion


Error parsing









Here is an example 'if' macro:

if,"char==65",then,"it's an A",else,"it's not an A",endif ^[ q

When you hit ^[ q, if the character under the cursor is an 'A': "it's a A" is inserted into the buffer, otherwise "it's not an A" is inserted.

"if" creates a math prompt (like Esc M). "then" is like "rtn"- it hits the return key for this prompt.

Within the math prompt, the following variables are available:



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