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Definition: XyWrite

Pronounced "zy-write." A venerable text editor and word processing program developed by XyQuest, Inc., Billerica, Massachusetts. Introduced for DOS in 1982, XyWrite provided complete typographic control over the page layout. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, it was used extensively in the newspaper and magazine industry as well as by professional writers worldwide.

The most user-customizable word processor ever developed, XyWrite offered a mappable keyboard, customizable menus and a complete, although extremely cryptic, programming language that could be used to perform numerous functions on the text.

Like HTML and XML
XyWrite generates ASCII text and uses embedded tags like HTML and XML but with different open/close characters. The tags are normally hidden, except for a triangle symbol, but they are quickly revealed when required (see example below). This single feature made XyWrite indispensable for editors who needed to see where typesetting commands were embedded without distracting tags getting in the way of their writing.

From DOS to Windows
XyWrite III Plus was the last DOS version from the original line, and a Windows version was later created (see XyWrite for Windows). XyWrite 4 for DOS evolved from Signature, a graphics-based version intended to succeed IBM's DisplayWrite, but that alliance never came to fruition. In 1992, XyWrite products were acquired by The Technology Group, Baltimore, MD, which closed its doors in 2001. See Nota Bene.

XyWrite Format Codes
This encyclopedia is maintained in a custom-programmed version of DOS-based XyWrite III Plus. At month end, conversion programs written in C turn the XyWrite files into HTML and XML for distribution. This example shows how XyWrite's unique tagging system displays unobtrusive triangles that are easily revealed (bottom).

Custom Menus
Although XyWrite was a command-driven word processor, every function could be turned into a menu as in this Search example. This shows a snippet of the programming code necessary to display the menu.