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Re: Failing to see the allure of Emacs

From: address@hidden
Subject: Re: Failing to see the allure of Emacs
Date: Tue, 04 May 2010 15:42:58 -0000
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv: Gecko/20100227 Thunderbird/3.0.3

Daniel, emacs is a superb text editor; for why that is, you can either take everyone's opinion or you can go to some 1970's and 1980's-era studies of the ergonomics and cognitive demands of text editing. Simply put, emacs gets it. Most other editors only halfway get it.

But to see what's so superb about emacs you must get to know its extraordinarily powerful macro facility and its programmability. emacs incorporates an entire programming environment which can control everything it can do and every datatype it can handle -- subprocesses, windows, sockets, lists, numbers, arrays, strings (which are vectors), etc. Once you can get your hands on that -- and I doubt you can do it in only 48 hours -- you'll never want to go back.

Let's say you're proficient with bash. Okay: with emacs you can run a bash subshell and write macros and programs that can operate on the bash shell environment in relationship to things you're doing in multiple other windows and multiple other buffers. emacs can do this in your choice of character set.

I wouldn't call myself an emacs guru, but I've been using it for 30 years, and although I've tried out other editors, none of them compares to emacs in terms of power, flexibility, and programmability. When I find one that can, I'll switch to it, but by now that seems unlikely. In those areas emacs doesn't just occupy the high ground: it owns the whole damned mountain.


PS I find that for my purposes emacs falls short in two areas: the ability to handle arbitrarily large files efficiently, and documentation. How I'd love to see complete, up to date, readily usable documentation! If that existed, this newsgroup would see less traffic.

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