From EDM2
Jump to: navigation, search

BRIEF is a text editor for DOS or OS/2.


The programmers editor that was for a time in the mid and late 80's more or less a standard in the DOS world, originally developed by UnderWare Corp, then bought by Solution Systems and later taken over by Borland. BRIEF is supposed to stand for "Basic Reconfigurable Interactive Editing Facility" although many contend that is a retronym.


  • context-sensitive online help
  • reconfigurable keyboard
  • supported assemblers:
    • Microsoft Macro Assembler 4.0
    • Phar Lap 386 asm
    • Borland Turbo Assembler
  • supported compilers:
    • Alsys ADA 4.4.2, Janus Ada, Meridian Ada
    • Microsoft BASIC Compiler, QuickBASIC
    • Borland C++
    • Realia, Micro Focus COBOL, mbp Visual COBOL
    • Lahey Fortran F77L 4.10
    • Logitech Modula-2, JPI TopSpeed Modula-2
    • Oregon Pascal-2, Microsoft Pascal, Turbo Pascal 4.0
    • Arity Prolog

OS/2 editors with BRIEF compatibility features

  • BOXER - Keyboard mappings - Commercial - Discontinued
  • FlexEdit - Keyboard mappings - Freeware - Current
  • Preditor/2 - Keyboard mappings and UI - Commercial - Discontinued
  • RimStar - Keyboard mappings - Commercial - Discontinued


  • 1989: UnderWare BRIEF for OS/2
Solution Systems
  • 1990: 3.0
  • 1991: 3.1 - while not the first version that runs under OS/2, was the first version that was not just a straight DOS port and supported features such as HPFS long file names and OS/2 specific commands and features in the macro language.
  • 1992: BRIEF 3.1
  • 1992: BRIEF 3.11

Known issues

The Borland version 3.1 for OS/2 from 1991/2 is known to have a large number of bugs due to the use of an alpha version Borland compiler, while offering nothing over the SS 3.1 version, either try to get hold of the last bug fixed 3.11 version of the Borland code or the SS 3.1 version which is actually better behaved than either of the Borland versions.

Syntax highlighting

Built in

Syntax highlighting, automatic indenting, statement completion (template editing), compiler support (compiling from within the editor) and automatic error location for Ada, Basic, C, C++, CBRIEF, Cobol, FORTRAN, Modula-2, Pascal and xBase. Syntax highlighting support for most programming, batch and scripting languages available in the early 90's.

Macro support

  • BRIEF has a keyboard recording and macro editing capabilities, keyboard macros can be edited and used on their own or used in the programmable macro modes.
  • It also had a "action macro" system, that was basically the same as the keyboard macros but used internal commands and could do some things that the keyboard system could not including build custom controls.
  • The LISP like macro language of versions 1 and 2 of BRIEF was still supported.
  • CBRIEF is a C like macro language that was introduced in version 3 by popular request, the original remained the main macro language of the package. By versions 3.1 and higher CBRIEF has become the main macro and the software can convert LISP like macros to CBRIEF macros
  • REXX is not supported.

Keyboard mappings

  • Built in: WordStar and a number of common mini and mainframe editor emulations.
  • You can add your own.


  • Commercial - Discontinued



  • UnderWare
  • Solution Systems
  • Borland