Jorge Dias

So many layers of web

As programmers we spend most of our time (apart from meetings :p) editing text. I’m a very avid user of emacs. I’ve been using the editor since 2007 after a friend took the time to explain it to me. I had tried to use it at university but couldn’t understand how to use it, I tried also vim and it was even worse, so I ended up using something a bit friendlier like gedit back then. Anyway, this is not about which editor is better or worse but about sticking to something.

After I started learning emacs and really trying to use it for a while it started to click. I was starting to work with Ruby around the time and the support for it was quite good, Matz uses emacs so it’s not a coincidence. I’ve then used emacs for many other programming languages, javascript, python, golang, etc. Every time I try a new programming language I improve my emacs to support it, I’ll configure plugins or write some functions and then I can work with this language using the same workflows and tricks I’ve learned through the years.

I’m not trying to advocate using emacs, that is just a choice, but after more than 10 years using it I can be very productive. So you can do it too! When I started I didn’t know all the things I could do with my editor but I’ve definitely dedicated time to learn it and I’ve only scratched the surface of what it can do. Knowing your editor takes time and effort but it totally pays off.

There are many great editors out there, we’re way past the vim vs emacs debate. Those editors though great are not for everyone, try different editors for a while until you find the one that feels right to you. You won’t know it immediately but after a couple of weeks or a month you will and then you can choose whether or not to continue using it.

I recommend also watching how other advanced users do things with different editors, you get many good ideas that you can “steal” for your use without having to necessarily change your tools.

My recommendation is if you’re struggling with your editor just try something different, try a change that will help you in the long term, once you master your basic tools you can then move on and tackle higher level issues about how you work. If you’ve been using the same editor for a while and are comfortable with it try to push your boundaries. Look for tutorials or demos, investigate the menus, read the documentation, there’ll be tips and tricks that you can slowly add to your bag. Don’t try to learn everything in one day, do it regularly, a little bit (5 minutes?) every day and you’ll see how you master your editor sooner than you may think.

Here are a few links that could be of interest.

Mastering emacs Emacs is sexy How to learn vim a four week plan Openvim Visual Studio Code tricks

comments powered by Disqus