Would you like to be able to use the power of your favorite editor, e.g., vi or emacs, with your favorite WYSIWYG formatter, e.g., FrameMaker or Word?
This research is to make it possible to use any program that works with ASCII input with any WYSIWYG program running on any Windowing system.
Specifically, there are a lot of real groovy text analysis software out there, from the old UNIX and DOS environments that assume plain flat ASCII files whose only structure is internal by virtue of the way the application extracts the data in the file. An example is the grep family, including agrep (approximate grep). Another example is the powerful text editors such as emacs or vi. To port these to current files, each of which is locked to one application, e.g., Word, means writing a new version of each such program that knows about one particular modern application's internal files. Thus, one would need a grep for Word files, for Excel files, for WordPerfect files, etc. I thought of producing what I would call an ASCII server, a table driven program that sits between these modern-application-fixed files and the traditional ASCII-based programs. For each modern application, the tables would specify the internal structure of the application's files so that the ASCII server would be able to present a updatable ASCII view of an application-fixed file. That is for a Word file, the ASCII server would show only the text. The view would be updatable so that if you were to use emacs on the ASCII view of a Word file and you were to save changes to the ASCII view, you would find the changes reflected back to the Word file. I see that this would make a good PhD thesis topic, because there will be significant creativity required to make the view updatable consistently.