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Definition: XyWrite

Pronounced "zy-write." A venerable text editor and word processing program used extensively in the newspaper and magazine industry throughout the 1980s as well as by professional writers around the world. Developed by XyQuest, Inc., Billerica, MA, XyWrite was the most user-customizable word processor ever developed, offering a remappable keyboard, customizable menus and a complete, although cryptic, programming language that could be used to perform any function on the text. XyWrite was the first DOS program to provide complete typographic control over the page layout.

Like HTML and XML
XyWrite generates ASCII text and uses embedded tags for formatting and labeling similar to HTML and XML. The tags are normally hidden, except for a triangle symbol, but can be easily revealed when required (see example below). This single feature made XyWrite indispensable for editors who needed to see where typesetting commands were embedded without coded 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 the early 1990s, 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 Forward example. This shows a snippet of the programming necessary to display the menu.