Hex viewers have become an integral part of computer operation not only for the program writers or the software companies, but also for the average users who are now taking charge of the maintenance of their computers, by manipulating binary (normally non-plain text) computer files and this is where the scope of hex editors are rising day by day. By using a hex editor, a user can see or edit the raw and exact contents of a file as opposed to the interpretation of the same content that other, higher level application software may associate with the file format e.
g. , this could be raw image data, in contrast to the way image editing software would interpret the same file. Although some Hex Editors can even display a text file the same way Text Editors do (and all of them should at least show the ASCII text characters on part of the screen), Hex Editors excel at two things that are impossible for most text editing programs: A) Revealing each byte that makes up a file (any kind of file; including executable programs);
B) Saving the file with only the changes that are made; unlike many old Text Editors, which always add a couple extra bytes at the end of each file. In most of the hex application, the data of the computer files is represented as hexadecimal values grouped in two groups of 8 bytes and one group of 16 ASCII characters, nonprintable characters normally are represented by a dot “. ” in the ASCII part. Utmost care and caution needed to handle Hex viewers as it might mislead the novice user to the loss of file.
Also, most Text Editors will “drastically change or even truncate binary files (chop off a large portion at the end of the copied file when loading it into the editor), so one should never use a Text Editor to make changes to a file unless one knows for sure that it’s a plain text type file! ” That calls for the habit of always keeping a copy of any file that a user needs to open with a Hex Editor. Because, even if a single byte gets changed by accident, the whole program might be impossible to run. This is completely different exercise from changing a bye in a program or binary data file like MS Word.
To meet the specific need of the user there are many hex editors have come in the market, which are available in three segments like freeware, shareware and direct purchase. This has happened due to various market policies adopted by various software companies. This research paper confines itself in the freeware segment and evaluates five free hex viewers while using a selection criteria of covering the gamut of its scope, like whether one has a GUI interface, or another could read NTFS, or if there is at least one viewer for FAT32, or is there any such viewer available for cross platforms like Linux.
The Hex Viewers and their description: 1. Hex Editor XVI32 This is a freeware hex editor running under Windows 95, 98, NT, 2000, and XP. The name XVI32 is derived from XVI, the roman notation for the number 16. The current release 2. 51 is available in various websites. It comes with a online help and requires only 975 KB of hard disk space. There is no setup program needed – only unzipping the downloaded archive to the hard disk will do. XVI32 doesn’t write any data to the registry. According to the number of download claimed by its developer (over 18,000 times per month from the developer’s homepage itself (i.
e. without mirrors, freeware archives etc. ). No wonder that its makers claim it as a valuable tool for thousands of people all over the world. 2. GuiGenie Published by Mario Awad, this program is a relatively simple Java GUI Builder; with less frills. This seems ideal for the beginners, who can experiment with widgets and layouts without worrying about the advanced features of the Swing package, besides having ‘everything one needs to develop solid GUI applications’, as per the claim of the developer.
But this one is not recommended for the advanced Java programmer, who at best can use it as a draft for their GUIs, can go on to create some menus and panels in it. This is not at all an alternative for sophisticated, fully featured GUI builder. But from the freeware point of view, this definitely wins the value proposition. It also claims a healthy download number (this week: 5653). Small in size (276KB), GuiGenie also features an intuitive interface that allows its user to “quickly and easily build GUIs using the Java swing package”, while its developer claims ‘simplicity’ is its central theme.
3. Tiny hexer 1. 7. 1. 6 Paradoxical to its name, Tiny hexer is bigger in size than the other free software programs cited in the paper. Developed by Markus Stephany, Tiny hexer allows the user to edit multiple files (mdi), sectors of disks and other data media (disk editor) and modify virtual memory of other processes. Tiny hexer is scriptable, lets the user to view data structures in a special browser in human readable format and has a plugin interface for third party extensions.
Operable in all Windows version, It has a long list of key features, and that perhaps made this software heavier than most of the others compared. It searches and replaces the text or hex bytes (also with wildcard byte and regular expressions); has the facility of file statistics and graphical data representation, can edit files as large as 2 GB, though that is dependent on available virtual memory in “disk image” mode. Even the larger files can also be edited sector/block wise. The array of tis features also include: Native 32 bit windows application, mdi;
Ascii, ansi, ebcdic (codepage 38), macintosh and custom character conversion; Unicode (ucs-2) support (character display, search and replace); Scripting engine (tiny hexer script language) including macro recording and calling of stdcall functions in dynamic link libraries; Plugin interface to enhance tiny hexer and tiny hexer script functionality with your own delphi plugins; Insert and delete half bytes; Insert, overwrite and readonly modes; Common bookmarks and keyboard bookmarks per file; Cutting and pasting of binary data (also null-bytes);
Automatic backups of modified files; Configurable keyboard, shortcuts and toolbar; Value editor to modify bytes, words, ieee and ibm floating point numbers, single bits, etc. ; Structure viewer to better understand file structures (with sample structure scripts for . bmp, . exe, . lnk and . zip files and ntfs, fat16 and fat32 boot structures) Multiple undo, single redo capabilities; Ole drag and drop support; Disk editing (windows nt/2000/xp only); Support for alternate data streams on NTFS; Modification of virtual memory in other processes;
Configurable editor appearance; Save and reload sets of options; Scriptable file import and export (with sample import scripts for hex text, intel hex and motorola s-record and sample export scripts/plugins for c-source file, pascal-source file, hex text, intel hex, motorola s-record, rtf, plain text, unicode text and html). This range proves about its attempt to make Tiny hexer acceptable to a wide section of users. 4. HexCurse v1. 55 A versatile ncurses-based hex editor, HexCurse is written in C that provides the user with many features.
It currently supports searching, hex, and decimal address output, jumping to specified file locations, searching, ASCII and EBCDIC output, bolded modifications, an undo command, quick keyboard shortcuts, and more. Requirements: ncurses library, version 5+; It is tested on FreeBSD, Irix, Linux, OpenBSD and Solaris and boasts of 11438 downloads. 5. HighViewer v1. 2. 62 Authored by Dmitry Simerzin, Russia , HighViewer is a Norton-like text file viewer with many features, including HTML filter, available in English and in Russian.
It has a familiar NC-like exterior where commands and features are easily accessible. HighViewer is a Russian product with minimal English documentation, but it does include an English interface and F1 Help. On exploring the title bar with mouse it fetches several context sensitive areas (R and L button commands). Its list of features include Favorite files list: edit list interactively / save for reuse, Set and Go To Bookmarks, External Viewers Menu (create a menu of secondary viewers, open current document with… ).
WIN programs supported under Win9x, HTML Filter (hide tags), Text filter (toggle space and CR/LF chars), Word Wrap, HEX viewing mode, Support for MS-DOS CP 866, Windows 1251, Unix KOI8-R, Macintosh, and ISO (8859-5r) character sets, Text highlighting: numbers, symbols, strings, etc. , along wit “Full screen” mode (hides title and command bars). Some of its settings are customizable (saved to ini. file). It supports Win9x LFNs, command line options, search command. Its text/interface colors are also customizable with a quick palette chooser. It doesn’t contain any integrated directory browser and accepts single filename on command line.