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Thread: The perfect Hex Editor

  1. #1

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    The perfect Hex Editor

    What are the killer features of a great Hex editor for you?
    (Gathering requirements )

  2. #2
    Junior Member wossy's Avatar
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    Re: The perfect Hex Editor

    Depends what platform you're developing for. Windows, Android or Mac "programmers" don't know what hex is or how it works, so you can ignore them.

    If Linux, then xxd is the one you should be using most of the time. Shed is also handy on occasion.
    On the bright side, I've still got pessimism and despair to fall back on.

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    Re: The perfect Hex Editor

    I'm assuming he wants to know what features you would like to have in a hex editor, and is planning on writing one to fit the requirements.

    I guess having a convenient easy to use search feature.
    Also having standard multi-byte decoding features, i.e. Signed and Unsigned Integers, floating point types, BigEndian or LittleEndian, order.
    Allow defining a structure and decoding a range of bytes based on that structure.
    Interpreting bytes as pointers to other bytes in the file.
    "Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn't the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment" Robert Benchley, 1930

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    Re: The perfect Hex Editor

    right passel. its already quite grown. i do have support for large files, drive/disk editing (\\.\X: and \\.\physicaldriveX), value editing of 1/2/4/8 bytes (signed/unsigned, big/little endian) as hex, dec, float, text, timestamp and binary, insert cursor for adding bytes, hightlight of bytes similar to selection, etc.

    Search replace is currently only via entering hex byte like "ff 5a 3d" or Windows1252 text or UTF-16 text. what do you mean with "easy to use search feature"? i had been thinking of adding the possibility to enter the search/replace byte series as float, timestamp etc, but is there a real need for this?

    Allow defining a structure and decoding a range of bytes based on that structure.
    i have started a plugin sytem for interpreting known filetypes and showing a navigation panel, i guess this covers some of that. but yours sounds more like saying somewhere in the middle of the file "If this here would be the beginning of a structure of type T, show me where the elements of this structure come to rest and what the values are, right? hmm, will think about this, thanks.

    Interpreting bytes as pointers to other bytes in the file.
    thanks for that, i guess this will be an easy one. i did not think about this as most often those pointers are including an offset like beginning of a structure and are rarely based on the beginning of the file, right?

    Thanks for your input.

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    Re: The perfect Hex Editor

    I didn't have any specific criteria in mind for "easy search" features, so don't have any examples off hand of something that I was looking for.
    But I think having extra windows that can display the hex data with a differing format could be useful.
    For instance, I often end up dealing with collecting data of messages transferred between computers or computers and equipment, think wireshark capture files or dumps.
    A hex editor would most often dump the file with 16 bytes displayed per line.
    But if I know the file is a repeating capture of messages of a given length, it would be useful to be able to specify the length and have the dump automatically break after the last byte of the message, and start a new line with the next message.

    I've been thinking of writing my own plugins for Wireshark, to decode stuff, but so far, have never worked through the requirements. They also seemed to have change the method of doing this lately, (i.e. no longer using Lua).
    In any case, I either just copy a hex dump to a file and do some conversions manually by hand, or if I want to process a lot, then write a program to process a hex dump, or the raw file. I have to go, so have to cut this short.
    "Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn't the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment" Robert Benchley, 1930

  6. #6

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    Re: The perfect Hex Editor

    have worked alot on the PE exe file interpreter which is kind of stress test for the navigation system, its parsing the import, export and resource tables currently well and the navigation then lists those sections in a treeview. clicking the trv item takes you to the respective bytes.
    however got bored of PE and did some other things: right click on selected bytes brings up context menu with "Goto: xxxx" as big and little endian addresses, enabled if they fall within the range of the file. i also made a change to my editValue form: you can now select any number of bytes from 1 to 8 and edit them, however fields for float, date etc will only be enabled if the number of bytes matches the type. also wrote a bunch of tests for all the conversions going on in this form.

    i am taking two items from here:
    1.) number of bytes per line shall be configurable. i also read that somewhere else. that would require me to add a hozontal scroller :S
    2.) definition of structure by the users and interpretation of bytes from e.g. cursor as structure. maybe have a structure library? the plugin fileparsers need those structures as well...but that would be a never completed task... if this is implemented, would one still need to have bytes per line configurable? would make more sense to define the msg structure and repeat that, no?

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