Sunday, January 11, 2004

Text from Palm to Desktop: SiEd

As is now well-known, Docs to Go v.6 can open and save MSWord files. That is very useful indeed, either for sharing files with others via email, or for transferring files to and from a desktop which does not have the Palm Hotsync software installed (all you need is a USB card reader). But sometimes I don't want to use MSWord, either because I cannot guarantee that the recipient will be able to read it, or I don't want all the garbage that Word adds to a file. These are the times I use plain text files on the desktop (example: I maintain the mailing list for Foxpop as a plain text file so that I can simply copy and paste it into the BCC field and know that all will work).

Now, the Palm DOC format, as used by such editors as QED, is in its uncompressed form just a plain text file with some garbage at the beginning. So it is possible to save a DOC file to an expansion card and open it on the desktop in a text editor such as Textedit (Mac) or Notepad (Windows). Unfortunately there are still problems with this method. One is that the garbage, though limited, is still there, so whoever opens it needs to know what is garbage and what is not. Another is that the file on the SD card with have the .pdb extension, and thus cannot be opened on the desktop by simply clicking. In other words, the recipient needs to know what to do with the file. What would be ideal is the ability to save text files to the SD card with no garbage and a .txt extension.

Enter the curiously named SiEd. It is a capable freeware text-editor with one very special function: files saved to the expansion memory are plain text and can be given any extension you like. (Which also means that, like a desktop text-editor, SiEd will open any file one your SD card, though the result may be gobbledegook.) Now I am unlikely to ever use anything other than pedit for actual text editing on the Palm, but SiEd provides by far and away the simplest means for getting the text back and forth from the desktop. And if you are reluctant to shell out $30 for pedit, SiEd has some nice editing features such as split screens.