Brief text editor

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I am a hardcore brief user, what has changed lately?

Brief has written from the ground up as a Windows application. You will find a remarkable resemblance to the original Dos brief, though macro language and automatic tab expansion are not currently implemented. Below are some modernizations you may like about the new brief:

  • CPU efficient; system will run cool, quiet and saves batteries
  • runs on 64-bit versions of Windows which no longer have Dos compatibility
  • no changes are made to autoexec.bat. Brief can be started on any machine with zero configuration with just a single, small executable file.
  • long filename support
  • gracefully closes when the system is shut down or the window closed
  • accepts popular keystrokes found in programs like edit, notepad and word
  • compiling is even smoother than before
  • generous undo depth
  • no column length limit
  • edit files formatted for Unix, Macintosh and Unicode
  • copy and paste between other Windows applications
  • choose the screen size, font, and colors on the fly
  • articulated program icons and window title
  • mouse wheel support

How do I compile my code?

If you write code in languages such as C, you can use Brief as an efficient integrated development environment that leverages your build process. First press Ctrl F10 and enter a command line that executes your particular compiler. Brief will add the name of the file being edited to the end of this command line. You can use any compiler or command line desired. Below are some examples:

Compiler Command Line
Visual Studio* cl -c -W4
Windows Device Driver build
PC-Lint lint-nt -h1 -width(0) -"format=%(%f(%l,%C) %)%m (%n)"
VBScript cscript
Perl perl -c
* assure Visual Studio registers its environment variables or run vcvars32.bat before starting brief

Now press F10 to compile the file. Brief will save your file, use your compiler to compile it, then place the cursor on the first compiler error and display the corresponding error message. Press Ctrl N to advance to the next error. Press Ctrl P to choose from a list of all errors.

Can I change the key mappings?

Press Ctrl Alt M to customize any key to do anything you wish. There are also two special commands to set all the keystrokes to brief like with the following differences:

Command Ins KeyPad + Ctrl Home/End Ctrl PgUp/PgDn Alt 0..9
Ctrl Alt B: map all keys to brief defaults paste copy top/bottom of page start/end of file set bookmark
Ctrl Alt I: map all keys to brief version 4.0x defaults toggle insert mode paste start/end of file top/bottom of page go to bookmark

Can Brief run under Linux?

Brief is a Windows console application. It can be run under Linux using wineconsole rather than wine.

How can I know if a certain feature is in the Professional version?

There are exactly 4 differences between the Basic and Professional version. The Professional version adds windowing, regular expressions, unicode file support, and a manual.

What are some tips and tricks?

  • There is no need to type in complete paths or filenames from the Alt E prompt. Type in just a few characters or none at all then press the Tab key and it will help complete the name or popup a file browser.
  • Copy and paste filenames back and forth between the Alt E prompt and other applications
  • The Alt B menu also accepts Alt E and Ctrl - (switch to file and close file respectively)
  • Alt X can be used to close popup windows
  • If text is selected, searches will stay within the selected text

Any other questions?

For questions not answered here or in the product help, please buy the Professional edition which contains a user manual explaining all features and keystrokes. Suggestions, problem reports and other inquiries are welcome at