Another look at Emacs

Sat Jan 9, 2010

So I said a little while ago, I said I'd switch to jEdit.

The jEdit logo

It turns out that Emacs has bedeviled me, though, and I've been trying very hard to figure it out. Given my infatuation with LISP in general, it was pretty likely that I'd eventually stumble across the Emacs Extension Guide(pdf). This appeals to me as perhaps nothing else can. I can develop my programming skills in [a precursor to] [my favorite language](, while improving the usability of my editor.

The default usability is still pretty bad in most respects.

are all obstacles1. I'd go so far as to say that if not for these things, Emacs would be the text editor of choice for a majority of computer users rather than just a minority of computer programmers, because underneath that initial crusty façade is raw power unmatched by another editor.

Incidentally, I keep on seeing people complain how "Emacs takes too long to load, so I've switched to Eclipse". I guess I use pretty good hardware, because Emacs never takes more than half a second to open up for me (and I tend to open my editor in the morning then keep it open all day anyway). On the other hand, Eclipse has yet to fully load in under 2 minutes on that very same machine (although, to be fair, the size of my company's codebase might have something to do with that).

In any case, I still don't seem to thirst for the blood of vi users, but yeah, I use Emacs.

The Emacs logo

  1. Greetings from the year 2016! So, the arcane shortcuts are still a thing, and you'll always get more mileage out of Emacs if you also know Emacs Lisp, but the other two problems seem like they've been solved by spacemacs. I don't personally use it, but several developer friends swear by it.

Creative Commons License

all articles at langnostic are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Reprint, rehost and distribute freely (even for profit), but attribute the work and allow your readers the same freedoms. Here's a license widget you can use.

The menu background image is Jewel Wash, taken from Dan Zen's flickr stream and released under a CC-BY license