Talk:Hex editor

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Inline Citations Tag[edit]

I think this inline citations tag is a good example of how overboard people are going with citation tagging. There's nothing in this page that is the least bit obscure, controversial, or debatable. This isn't a page about the Kennedy assassination, it's about hex editors. These tags are about the worst thing that ever happened to wikipedia. I don't know if people just throw them around to increase their edit counts or what, but 90% of them are completely pointless. And on top of that, most of the people who add them don't even have the decency to discuss their concerns, whatever they are, in the talk page. It's just getting ridiculous how you can hardly look at anything on wikipedia anymore without seeing one of these stupid tags. I mean, how does this help exactly? Is the idea that I wouldn't know there weren't any inline citations if somebody hadn't pointed it out? I mean, duh? I know there aren't any inline citations, because I don't see any inline citations.Tarchon (talk) 07:33, 27 May 2015 (UTC)


It looks like a young one recently added a "Beginner Hex Editor" field - An editor might want to remove it? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:56, 22 April 2013 (UTC)

I reworked and reworded the section to keep the pertinent information and make it broader. I left the picture so far as it exemplifies a template system. Maybe the figures sub text should be edited too. (talk) 15:50, 4 September 2013 (UTC)

More Information[edit]

Can somebody put in more information, such as what the different columns mean and/or how to use a hex editor? Thanks. -anon —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:28, 15 November 2007 (UTC) hoi — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:06, 26 January 2012 (UTC)

As requested, more information[edit]

by Lytzf (talk) 21:20, 29 October 2014 (UTC)

Hex editor explained[edit]

In response to a request to explain the columns' meaning and use, let me offer this:

The left window contains pairs of hexadecimal numbers each pair representing a byte of data.

The right window shows either a printable character, an empty space for a space character, or depending on the hex editor in use, a dot or space if the byte contains a value that does not represent a printable character.

Each byte can hold one of 256 values, between 0 and 255 in Base 10, or Decimal notation, or between 00 and FF in Base 16, or Hexadecimal notation.

The file can be edited by either entering a hex value in the left window or by typing a character in the right window.

The first pair of digits in the left corresponds to the first representation in the right.

Viewing files in a Hex Editor[edit]

I installed a freeware hex editor, and can look at the header of a GIF image. Its first five bytes contain the characters, "GIF89" to identify itself as a GIF image. The first four of a PNG include decimal 189 in the first byte, followed by the letters "PNG" and a JPG image contains the letter sequence "JFIF" beginning in the 7th byte in from the top of the file.

In this editor, if I click on a byte in the left column it and its text counterpart in the other window will highlight. Likewise, I can highlight the text and see the corresponding byte.

Making use of a Hex Editor[edit]

Given a set of images that each contain a different text message in the image, one can allow the imaged text to be displayed in the document; it is visually accessible, but not accessible to a blind person using a screen reader. Replace that image with its message spelled out in text, and now the text becomes accessible to the blind user.

A script can examine the contents of one unique byte in each of the message images and supply a matching text rendition in the image's place.

Above is one example of the use of a hex editor.

I am writing from my own experience to answer the question posed 7 years ago, above. If it is of help to anyone reading this page, then I haven't wasted my time writing it. :) Lytzf (talk) 21:20, 29 October 2014 (UTC) Lytzf (talk) 19:05, 29 October 2014 (UTC)

External Links[edit]

I love it when I can quickly find a program to download when I'm using Wikipedia... but this page has too many links! If we should keep any of them at all, then I suggest those that aren't open source (or at least freeware) to be removed. - Roma_emu 00:28, 11 March 2007 (UTC)

Whoever removed the links, shouldn't have. I got HxD from this page, now I had to go to history to get it. I am putting the links back. 14:32, 22 May 2007 (EDT)
Wikipedia is not a repository of links, it's an encyclopedia. See policy at WP:NOT#LINK. Rwxrwxrwx 09:56, 22 June 2007 (UTC)
If you must put in links, they should go in a list/comparison article explicitly for the purpose. Conversely, if you must do a mass deletion, copy the removed links to the correct article or to the comments with a notice not to add them again. If you just delete them, people (who probably should know better) will just readd them and you'll annoy the ones who are looking for them! It's best to put a short note such as a link to the other article and move them out of here. Yeah, this is an old issue - Wikipedia isn't tech support or Softpedia, but it's really nice to not have to search all over the Internet for the information and(especially free/open source) tools. (talk) 04:05, 9 February 2012 (UTC)

Large file viewing[edit]

Almost all modern text editors read the whole file into memory in order to work with it. This makes even just browsing/viewing large files awkward and slow -- sometimes impossible, if they do not fit into memory. So, a person wanting to view a large text file needs to use a hex editor, because some of them are able to browse through large files directly, without having to load the whole file into memory first. Some hex editors are probably better than others at displaying text nicely. See "Maximum file size" and "Partial file loading" columns in Comparison of hex editors. Are there any particularly good guides to "Viewing large text files"? - 12:12, 17 August 2007 (UTC)

Just do what people with large log files do - break it up! It's really easy to write some oldschool program that does nothing but read a line in, increments a counter (line number or filesize), and then outputs the line to a second file. When it gets to a predefined limit, it closes the output file and creates another with an incremented name. If it runs out of lines to read, then it closes the last file and exits. QBASIC's syntax is highly optimized to this sort of program but in actual practice, it's better to use a C variation with a good (flexible/stable/easy-to-use/lightweight) text I/O library. Unicode support would be essential, nowadays. Stability includes resistance against buffer/parsing bug exploits. Even proprietary formats like Word or PDF could in theory be re-encoded as a series of smaller files. I've seen programs that break a PDF apart at the page boundery. (talk) 04:14, 9 February 2012 (UTC)
This is not really true. I created a hex editor using my own programming language that only "reads" when needed and "writes" when needed. When designing your hex editor, you must make sure that your language supports random access file input and output. Yes, you can use a random access hex editor to modify gigabyte sized files, because it doesn't actually store any of the file into memory. It just stores small chunks of the file - the chunks that you are currently looking at or are editing. --Carrot Lord (talk) 01:39, 17 January 2013 (UTC)


Should this article be merged with disk editor?--DustWolf (talk) 14:15, 31 August 2008 (UTC)

I don't think so. Perhaps the other way around if anything - a disk editor is more a special case of a hex editor, and hex editing files is more common than disk editing nowadays. But generally they each have their own requirements. This page probably needs expanding though, to explain how a hex editor is different to a disk editor for one thing. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:13, 24 November 2008 (UTC)

Origin of name[edit]

"Each hexadecimal digit (also called a "nibble") represents four binary digits (bits), and the primary use of hexadecimal notation is as a human-friendly representation of binary-coded values in computing and digital electronics. For example, byte values can range from 0 to 255 (decimal) but may be more conveniently represented as two hexadecimal digits in the range 00 through FF. " - From the Hexadecimal article

It pretty much describes why almost all 'binary' file editors are in fact technically based on hexadecimal and not binary. I wonder where this term was first used? As in, when people shortened it from the full name. Another name for a hexadecimal digit is a nibble, by the way. (From Apple II/Commodore communities, mostly? There's even a magazine by that name.) (talk) 04:21, 9 February 2012 (UTC)

In a related note, editing a raw image file can technically be binary if it has only 1 bitplane (say, a B/W image with no greys). (talk) 04:28, 9 February 2012 (UTC)

Disturbing Image[edit]

The very first image disturbs me very much. The user is using a hex editor - yes a hexadecimal editor - to modify an HTML file. Why doesn't he just use a text editor such as Vim or gedit?

Shouldn't we display an example of a binary file being modified by a certain hex editor? --Carrot Lord (talk) 01:53, 17 January 2013 (UTC)

Use of decimal instead hexadecimal[edit]

In my opinion, in the Hex_editor#Early_history section the phrase:

Today, decimal instead of hexadecimal representation is becoming a popular second option due to the more familiar number base and additional helper tools, such as template systems and data inspectors, that reduce the benefits of the hexadecimal numerical format.

looks to be unsupported (no citations) or, at least, confusing. Many of us would confirm that there is no increment of popularity of decimal versus hexadecimal data presentation for the basic reason of an "Hex editor". Instead, the final part of the sentence is true: some editors support the presentation of bytes or group of bytes in different modes: 8-16-32 integer (here also in decimal format). Even packets of bytes can be decoded by the mentioned data inspectors add-on. Can the phrase be reworded ?--FabC (talk) 11:18, 7 June 2015 (UTC)