re: Anyone still using Emacs? VIEW POST


Spacemacs here. I used neovim for a while, vim before that. I really don't like Visual Studio, I can almost feel a cubicle materializing and closing in on me. You'd think I'd like it, since I tend heavily toward the kitchen sink approach to dev environments. The crucial difference is that literally, and I cannot stress this enough, LITERALLY EVERYTHING in emacs is able to be changed. The internal structure of vim is C. The internal structure of VS is... I don't want to know. The internal structure of emacs, above a certain point, is emacs-lisp. If you don't already know, this means you can change emacs while you use it, as well as lots of other nice things like being able to "hook" into a function to make code run whenever it runs, without changing the original function at all. So, you can change and tap into the functioning of every little thing. Don't like the way this particular minuscule item works, something so small you'd have a hard time getting a developer to care? Easy, change it in less than a minute. I use evil-mode in general because I prefer vim's editing style, and Spacemacs in particular because I'm not that familiar with emacs, and the way it's set up works very well for me. In particular, helm was an incredible shock coming from vim, where I had to set up and remember every little leader key combination myself. I switched to spacemacs right around the time I was running out of space for leader key combinations on the keyboard, and looking for a way to have multiple leader keys (I didn't find one).

Now, outside of this, why emacs in particular? You can do pretty much anything and have it feel natural, like it was made to do this. Do something the first time, figure it out, optimize it so it's easy. It grows around you until you can focus on the task at hand. This style of growth, coupled with the incredible wealth of packages available for emacs, means it can do pretty much anything any IDE can. I timed a friend who uses VS on a particular task related to compilation and git integration as a test, and I was able to do it faster. In general, so much of working with normal IDEs feels so forced and structured. This menu is hard to use, has a bug, or doesn't really fit what you're doing (ex. a file prompt makes you do files one at a time)? Fuck you, that's the answer. With emacs, if there's something you can do, then you can change and automate that something for ease of use or use in a larger task to be automated.

In terms of UI, one of the best developments from emacs is the idea of major and minor modes. This allows your development environment to be adaptable and change immediately, having things like context-based settings, keybindings, behaviors, and features.

I don't see myself moving from emacs until we move to a more direct way of interfacing with computers, like direct telepathy, and even then I'd probably try to migrate emacs to that environment. It really is, as it has been called, the "editor of a lifetime". As well as an editor and IDE, I currently use it for my todo-lists (org-mode), notes, interface to google translate, calculator (I could write a whole thing like this on emacs-calc), remote environment, occasionally terminal, and more.


Sounds like you really enjoy the Emacs experience. I also like the ability to customize the editor and just about anything else. Iā€™m still getting used to everything, but slowly starting to figure things out.


Be sure not to spend too much time at once in making everything perfect, try to use it to do actual work and fix any problems that crop up, then do extensive customization later. It's easy to see the editor as an end rather than the means to an end.

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