Discovering Ted




[Bild des Autors]


original in fr Andre Pascual

fr to de Jean-Pierre Schwickerath

de to en Guido Socher


Industrial Graphics Artist now working as teacher for computer based graphic design. Computer science and mainly 3D graphics is his main passion.


One of the main arguments for not changing from Windows to Linux is always the difficultly to transfer data between the platforms. While this is no problem for image data it is still the case for documents and data originating from Microsoft Office.

One could argue that StarOffice 5.2 can very well import Word and Excel files but often you hesitate to start an application as heavy as StarOffice just to look, or perhaps modify, a simple file from Word or WordPad.

This is where TED comes into the picture.




What is Ted?

It is a Wysiwyg word processor developed by Mark de Does It is not only a simple text editor. Sure it's a basic Motif Interface , few icons, and just a couple of fonts... but one can see immediately that this is a tool for every day's work, only work and good work. We will see...

Picture 0: the simple TED Gui composed
from TED components with The Gimp.

The TED can be downloaded as archive from <> or <> or <>. TED is available in binary format (statically linked) or as source code. The later is 1,9 MB (ted-2.8.src.tar.gz) in size and needs Motif for compilation. My experience is that Lesstif.0.88-9 produced also very good results. After compilation and striping (command strip) the binary you get a 1 MB big executable. The Ted contains also a spell checker in american English. Different dictionaries for other languages can be downloaded separately. In addition to binary/source-tar archives TED is also available as RPM package.

Ted can read files only in one format (but can write to 3 other file types): The RTF format, known as Rich Text Format, has the advantage that it is platform independent and can be read by every word processor that is worth to be called a word processor. The attributes such as font size, type (bold, italic ...) and orientation are preserved by this format. Instead of storing your work in the Word propriety DOC format you just need to store the documents in RTF-Format and you will be able to import them without problems into Linux applications.

Who reads what and how?

Take a file produced with WordPad in RTF and DOC format. We want to read both under Linux. The same document was also saved with PressWork 2 from GTS in RTF-format. We should theoretically get 3 identical files.

Picture 1 the WordPad layout. Click on the image to get a detailed view.

Now we will try to read the RTF and DOC files with StarOffice, WordPerfect8, Maxwell, Abiword and with Ted, which understands only RTF.


-StarOffice reads perfectly the DOC and RTF files and replaces the font BibleScript by Helmet. The formatting of the text is preserved.
-WordPerfect reads RTF: Arial is replaced by Univers, Courier by Courier 10cp (fixed size), Times and BibleScript are replaced by CG Times. All attributes (apart from the Courier font size) and the formatting is preserved. The DOC file is converted in much better quality than the RTF file.
-Maxwell (Version 0.53) reads no Windows files, only (and only bad) Linux RTF-files. It does not read DOC files even though this option is available.
-Abiword (Version 0.75 beta) reads RTF and DOC correctly.
-Ted reads perfectly Windows-RTF and replaces BibleScript by Helvetica but preserves the boldness of the font. It also reads RTF files from any of the above Linux applications.

Picture 2 shows Ted with the WordPad-Datei and demonstrated that it handles its task very well. Click on the image to get a detailed view.

Which fonts?

After installation Ted has 4 fonts Times, Helvetica, Courier and Symbol. These are metric fonts from Adobe, available in AFM format. In principle Ted can use any font of this type. The Linux-filesystem tree contains in /usr/share/enscript and /usr/share/ghostscript a lot of these fonts, and the temptation to use them is big especially since the size of the Times font that comes with Ted is limited to 18 points. Just as the Courier italic and the Courier bold-italic fonts.

Unfortunately I have been, despite several trials, only been able to import the fonts Utopia, New Century SchoolBook and Palatino to /usr/local/afm and use them with Ted. I could use them succesfully in different sizes between 8 and 64 points. It's just a few fonts but because these three fonts are similar to Times New Roman and because Helvetica and Arial are similar we have the most important fonts. This allows us to continue the work on a document started with Word. These fonts are also the most commonly used ones under Windows.

Picture 3 shows the fonts in Ted. Click on the image to get a detailed view.

It was tempting to store the available fonts in RTF format and see how the other programs would handle the document. Picture 4 shows how AbiWord reads the document. Compare this to the Ted picture 3: impressive.

The documentation of Ted, a 712 KB big file with the name TeDocument.rtf explains in English how one can get AFM fonts and how to install them. Those fonts are really just descriptions of the font in text format. They should be usable after the files have been cleaned from line termination symbol and file end symbols (Strg-Z). Described like this it sounds easier than it is in reality.

How to improve TED?

Adding fonts is certainly one big improvement.

Ted is as a product so basic in its look that one would like to make it a bit more fancy and colorful. To port it to Qt or GTK would be a difficult task.
You can however influence some parameters without changing the code. At installation Ted copies a file called to /usr/local/info. This is a Resource file with explanations. You just have to copy it to your home directory and name it Ted.

You can use it to set the standard font, the units, the paper size, the borders, the standard dictionary, the labels and entries in the menus, etc...

The original file is in English but I have translated it to French and it is available to anybody who would like to have it. I encourage you also to translate it to other languages.

Picture 5 shows Ted with some of the Dialog boxes in French. Click on the image to get a detailed view.

The functions

You just have to open the pull down menus to see what Ted does. It would be nice if Ted had an icon bar. The menu point Insert is one of the most interesting ones as it to enrich your text with 6 object types:

- picture inserts a vector or bitmap image: and Ted accepts 13 different formats. The types .ico, .bmp, .wmf are the formats that Windows uses and it facilitates of course the document transfer. The pictures are treated by Ted like a single character, at least with regards to orientation and on the page. The size can be changed thanks to 8 movement points on the border of the picture. These points are visible when double click with the mouse on the image.

Picture 6, images in TED. Click on the image to get a detailed view.

I could in the above example change the size of the eagle (an image in vector format) without surprises. With regards to the golden Tux, a bitmap image, it is recommended to keep the pictures original size as the quality is not anymore as good when enlarged or reduced in size.

- The Symbol menu entry allows to add special symbols from a symbol table. You just click on the symbol, press insert and the symbol is inserted into the text at current cursor position.

Picture 7, symbols. Click on the image to get a detailed view.

- Hyperlink inserts a hyper link
- Bookmark adds a bookmark in the text
- File: here you can insert a RTF file
- Table: compose a table with Ted

The menu Format is used to change the formatting of paragraphs. There are 3 types of orientation: Left, Right and Centered. An option to have a paragraph with both left and right justified margins is not available. In this menu you can also add an empty line before and after the paragraph. You can generate a formatting rule (Copy rules) from the formatting of one paragraph and apply them to other paragraphs (Paste rule).

In the menu Tools you can modify the text with 6 different options:

-Font Tool: This is a separate dialog where you can select the font, size, boldness etc.... You can preview the changes before applying them.
-Find opens a dialog for finding and replacing text.
-Spelling: This is a spell checker which uses the /usr/local/ind/Lang.ind file as dictionary. There are dictionaries for almost all European languages. The default dictionary can be selected via the resource file but the spelling dialog box has also the option to select any of the installed dictionaries.
- Page Setup can be used to define paper and margin size.
- Insert Symbol inserts symbols or special characters.
- Table Tool contains many options to build a table and integrate the table into the text.

Picture 8, a table in Ted. Click on the image to get a detailed view.

Ted has also a number of less common functions such as Mail, Hyperlinks and Bookmark. The later 2 are very interesting when you intend to save a file in HTML-Format. To save a file in HTML format you use the Save to entry from the menu File. Here you can save to .txt and .html files. Ted can export to these file types although is can open and read only RTF files.

Ted saves also the images in a subdirectory when saving the file as html. The subdirectory gets the extension .img and contains GIF or JPEG files dependent on the color depth. If you save a document under the name toto.html then the images go into the directory toto.img. Tables, hyperlinks and references within the file are correctly converted to html.

It's really good!

Does Ted also offer other possibilities? The answer is yes, but it is probably a good idea if you test them your self. You can send Mails as Text, RTF and HTML directly from Ted. Ted can communicate with Netscape and you can copy/paste from and to other X11 applications. This is just to mention a few...


Ted is a very productive and light weight tool. It is comfortable to use and very stable (I tested 2.5 and 2.8) In 2.5 I noticed that using the del-key to delete empty lines closed the application but this bug does not longer exist in the current 2.8 version.
I would like to see an auto save option, left+right justified paragraphs and text in column layout. Also text automatically floating around images would be nice to have.
This would make Ted a small desktop publishing software. It would also be nice to see Ted converted to GTK and QT (GTed and KTed) to be able to integrate Ted into the desktop.
To be honest Ted is already an excellent software and it can be used to do real work. This article and the others that I wrote in the past have all been been written with Ted. The publishers have never had problems to convert the files into their Publishing software. This says a lot.