Getting Started

Welcome to DarkViking Software’s Getting Started tutorial series, designed to help you quickly start using Iron.

Topics include:

  • How to download and install DarkViking Software’s 3D text editor: Iron.
  • How to start and quit Iron.
  • How to use Iron’s Menu System to explore the editing capabilities and features.
  • How to create a new file, save a file and rename it.
  • A brief introduction to Virtual Space Editing.
  • The importance of the Escape key.
  • How to open and re-open, unlock and locking existing files.
  • Using the mini-map.
  • How to edit multiple files, and a brief explanation of File Tabs.
  • An overview of multiple pane editing.

Often I feel that projects overwhelm us when we look at how many hours are involved until completion. But just getting started is usually not that difficult. 

Emily Giffin

New York Times #1 best selling author.

Getting Started with Iron is a brief video introduction to Iron and an overview of the topics covered in this tutorial series.

How to Download Iron explains the step-by-step procedure for getting the beta release of Iron.

Summary: How to Download Iron

Direct your browser to the DarkViking Software home page:  darkviking.com

  1. Click the big blue Download Iron Beta v00 for Windows button.
  2. On the Download Iron page, read the User Agreement and click the “I Agree” checkbox.
  3. The small underlined Download button will appear, press that button.

Your browser will then download Iron’s installer to your computer.

How to Install Iron explains the details of installing Iron on your computer. The process is easy and straightforward.

This tutorial assumes that you have a copy of Iron downloaded to your computer.

Summary: How to Install Iron

Once Iron’s installer has finished downloading within your browser…

  1. Open the downloaded copy of Iron. The installer will start automatically.
  2. Windows will likely bring up a User Account Control dialog asking for Administrator Privileges. This is normal when installing new software on Windows. Click Yes.
  3. Iron’s Installer will run through a short series of pages offering you some setup options. We recommend using the default setup and click Next and then Finish.

Here’s more detail instructions on the installation options:

  1. Once Iron’s Installer starts up, the Select Destination Location page will allow you to browse and choose an alternate installation directory. We suggest using the recommended directory. Click Next.Note: Iron creates resource and session files in your Documents/DarkViking Software folder.
  2. The Select Components page offers no options, all of Iron gets installed. Click Next.
  3. On the Select Start Menu Folder page, click Next.
  4. The installer will progress to the Select Additional Tasks page. Here you will have the opportunity to set Iron’s Virtual Space Editing Mode on or off. Most text editors don’t offer virtual space editing though we recommend it. VSE mode allows you to move the input caret anywhere on the screen. This allows you to navigate and edit beyond the end-of-the-line. You can change this mode setting within Iron from the Modes main menu drop-down.
  5. Also on the Select Additional Tasks page, you have the option to create Windows shortcuts for starting up Iron via an icon on the Desktop or the Quick Launch bar. Click Next then Install.
  6. Installing Iron’s software and resource files is very brief. You’ll then come to the last options page, Completing the Iron Beta Setup Wizard. There will be two checkboxes. Leave them both checked and click Finish.
  7. The OpenAL installer will run. It installs audio drivers that are required by Iron. Simply click Ok.

Iron will now launch it’s first session.

Note:  In Windows 10, you might get the blue Windows protected your PC dialog. This has to do with Iron being a new application downloaded from the Internet. Press the link “More Info” and you’ll be given the option to Run the installer.

Note:   The OpenAL audio drivers are required for Iron to operate properly. You can turn off the audio cues from the Tools main menu drop-down. Should you uninstall Iron, OpenAL will need to be uninstalled separately using the Windows Control Panel.

How to Start and Quit Iron presents several options for starting up Iron to begin editing, and exiting when you are finished.

Summary: How to Start and Quit Iron

Ways to start Iron:

  1. Double click the Iron icon on the desktop.
  2. Use the Start Menu (older versions of Windows.)
  3. Use the Metro Page (Windows 8 and 10.)

Ways to Quit Iron:

  1. Click the Close Button in the upper right-hand corner of the display.
  2. Use the File|Quit menu item.
  3. Type Alt+X (Works at anytime.)
  4. Type Alt+F4 (Windows default exit for all applications.)

If there are any unsaved files, Iron will ask about saving them. Click Cancel to change your mind about quitting Iron and keep editing. When exiting the Beta version, Iron will show a beta exit-menu in the center of the display. To quit this menu, click the Close button a second time.

A Brief Exploration of Iron looks at the user interface and some of Iron’s growing list of text editing features and benefits.

Summary: A Brief Exploration of Iron

This video takes a quick tour of the follow:

  • The Command Palette
  • Windows and panes
  • The Mini-map
  • File tabs
  • Iron Menu system
  • Hot keys

How to Create a New File explains the concept of working within panes and demonstrates several ways to start a new file, the easiest being to just start typing in a new pane.

Summary: How to Create a New FIle

Discussion of text editor naming conventions: Panes, windows, buffers and workspaces.

Specific ways to create a new file:

  • Just start typing
  • Type Ctrl+N
  • Use the File|New menu item.

How to Save a File explains manual and auto file saving methods, including Iron’s limbo feature that protects your work even if it is unnamed and unsaved.

Summary: How to Save a File

To manually save a single file:

  • Use the File|Save menu item.
  • Type Ctrl+S (Saves the current file that is open in the current pane.)

To manually save all open files:

  • Use the File|Save All menu item.
  • Type Ctrl+Shift+S

The Limbo directory:

  • Unnamed, unsaved files are saved to the Iron “limbo directory”.
  • A file residing in the limbo directory is located in Documents\DarkViking Software\limbo folder.

Multiple Files and File Tabs demonstrates how Iron supports working within several different files, all open, all at the same time, with each available to be edited independently.

Summary: Multiple Files and File Tabs

As multiple files are opened, Iron adds file tabs on the upper-right of the “text view”. To change between files, click on the desired file tab.

Other ways to switch files within a pane:

  • Press F1 to cycle to the next file in the pane.
  • Alt+F1 to cycle to the previous file.
  • Ctrl+Tab
  • Ctrl+Page_Up
  • Ctrl+Page_Down
  • Use the Command Palette (F8) and type the file name (and press Enter).
  • Use the Goto feature (Ctrl+G) and type the file name. “Goto” is really just using the “colon” syntax in the Command Palette.
  • Close the current file.
  • Drag-n-drop file tabs from other panes.

How to Unlock Read Only Files explains how Iron handles locking and unlocking files used in a Software Configuration Management (SCM) system.

Summary: How to Unlock Read-Only Files

This video demonstrates how to unlock and relock a read-only file.

  • Iron won’t allow editing of a file that’s locked or “read-only”. If attempted, Iron will “fling” out a warning to you.
  • Files are often locked for a reason. Know the reason before you unlock and change the file. You might need to re-lock the file after a change.
  • To unlock or lock a file, use the File|Lock/Unlock menu item.
  • Files in software projects are commonly configured, tracked and backed-up by a Software Configuration Management (SCM) system.
  • Files may be locked by the SCM and unlocking and editing them without checking them in and out may confuse the SCM possibly leading to loss of work.
  • In the not too distant future, Iron will support several SCM systems (GitHub, Perforce, SVN, and others).

The Escape Key tutorial explains the role of ESC key in Iron, how it is implemented, and the order in which it cancels various key bindings. In short, ESC is used to cancel most interactions, including popup panes, dialogs, audio prompts, animated notifications and other activities.

Summary: The Escape Key

This video describes how the Escape Key is used to cancel every thing in Iron. It takes a brief look into the iron.keymap file to show how the order of key bindings determines which of multiple actions gets cancelled (a user-customizable precedence order):

  • Iron uses the Escape key (ESC) to cancel pretty much everything.
  • ESC cancels popup panes like the Command Palette.
  • ESC cancels dialogs, audio prompts, animated notifications and other activities.
  • ESC is used to cancel selections in the Persistent Selection mode.

To cancel all activity, popup panes and all multi-selections, use can use Shift+ESC.

Note: To can just multiple-selections, typically use Ctrl+Shift+Delete.