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the - The Hessling Editor.


the [-h?nmrsbk] [-p profile] [-a profile_arg] [-l line_num] [-c col_num] [-w width] [-u display_length] [-k[fmt]] [[dir] [file [...]]]


THE is a text editor that uses both command line commands and key bindings to operate. It is intended to be similar to the VM/CMS System Product Editor, XEDIT and to KEDIT from Mansfield Software.

THE was originally written to be used by people already familiar with the above editors. For this reason, the documentation provides limited information on using THE, and concentrates more on reference material, such as command syntax and configuration.


Print a usage message on standard error and exit successfully.
Run THE without any profile. Normally THE tries to find a profile file and execute this on startup. This switch suppresses that search and execute and runs THE in its default mode. This switch is useful for determining if a bug in THE occurs only with certain user-specific customizations.
On ports of THE that support colour, this switch forces THE into monochrome mode. More a testing feature than a user feature.
This switch enables THE to be run in read-only mode. In this mode commands that alter the contents of a file are invalid.
On Unix platforms, this switch enables the writing of a core file if THE crashes. Normally, THE traps any internal errors and exits gracefully. This switch is a testing feature rather than a user feature.
When you want to use THE as a non-interactive tool for manipulating the contents of one or more files, this switch will disable any display of file contents and disable keyboard interaction. Normally used in conjunction with a specific profile; see -p option.
Run quietly in batch mode. This will suppress the introductory informative message displayed when errors are encountered running in batch.
Allows 'soft label keys'. This allows the display of one (or two) lines at the bottom of the screen with 'buttons' intended to be used to represent function keys. These 'soft label keys' can be manipulated with the <SET SLK> command. The 'fmt' optional extra argument is a single digit representing the format of the display of the 'buttons'.

1 - displays 8 'buttons' in a 4-4 layout
2 - displays 8 'buttons' in a 3-2-3 layout
3 - displays 12 'buttons' in a 4-4-4 layout
4 - displays 12 'buttons' in a 4-4-4 layout with an index line
5 - displays 10 'buttons' in a 5-5 layout

Not all platforms support all 5 format options. On those ports of THE that are mouse-aware, the mouse can be pressed on a 'button', and the command assigned the the corresponding function key is executed.

This switch specifies the line number to make current when THE starts.
This switch specifies the column number to make current when THE starts.
Specifies the THE profile to run instead of the default profile.
Specifies the arguments that are passed to the profile specified with the -p switch.
Specifies the maximum line width for a line in the current edit session. Can be overridden with the <SET WIDTH> command.
THE can run as a binary editor. Specifying this switch tells THE to read in the file and display it in 'lines' that are ´display_length´ long. All end-of-line characters in the file are ignored and are treated as other characters in the file.
With the X11 port of THE, standard X11 switches can be specified with this switch to dynamically configure the way THE displays or behaves. You can also specify XCurses-specific switches here as well. For more information on the XCurses switches available, consult the PDCurses documentation.
Tells THE to run in 'Single Instance Mode'. The first time THE is run with the -1 switch, it starts as normal. Subsequent executions of THE with the -1 command-line switch will not start a new instance of THE, rather it will edit the file(s) specified on the command-line in the currently running instance of THE. This feature is currently only available with the X11 port of the using XCurses 2.5 and greater. If the first instance of THE with the -1 switch crashes for any reason, subsequent attempts to run THE with the -1 switch will hang. To fix this remove the file (really a FIFO); $HOME/.thefifo and then run THE with the -1 switch again.
[dir [file [...]]]
File(s) and/or directory to be edited.


Global profile file for THE.
Local profile file for THE.
THE help file name.


THE uses the following environment variables:

The directory in which THE looks for its help file(s) and macro(s).
The fully qualified file name containing help information.
The fully qualified file name for the local profile file.
A list of all directories in which THE is to look for <macro> files.


THE Reference Manual


Mark Hessling <>.


Copyright 1991-2010 Mark Hessling. All rights reserved. THE is distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License and comes with NO WARRANTY. See the file COPYING for details.

On Debian systems, the complete text of the GNU General Public License version 2 can be found in `/usr/share/common-licenses/GPL-2'.



Report bugs to <>.


Mark Hessling <>.
Alen Zekulic <>.

February 2010 Debian GNU/Linux