Emacs My One True Friend

18 April 2010
Tags: general

Over the years I have used a number of different text editors. At one point I was using Emacs heavily and really enjoying it as I was solely based on a Linux desktop at the time.

Then the projects that I was working on grew a little in size and the files were spread out in the file system and I started to find it a little tedious to move between these far ranging directories. At the same time I moved to a Mac laptop and was finding it a little frustrating having to use the Esc key to drive the Emacs commands, never mind my absolutely in ability to understand this lisp thing and setting up my .emacs file. So I started hunting else where for a new text editor to handle my needs and settled on TextMate.

Wow that was a really nice text editor and I was most happy. There was a couple of bugs/issues I ran into but was able to work around them. The main issue I had at first was editing remotely. I was using MacFuse at the time and there were a few instances where the file I was working on in the editor was touched/modified on the remote server and that caused all sorts of weirdness to the file in TextMate. I just ended up making sure to just code locally.

Although I did not always do my development on the Mac laptop. I still had my Linux desktop and so it was a bit of a pain moving back and forth between the systems and having to use a different text editor each time. I tried Geany for a while, as that gave me a file folder sidebar, and the plugins where helpful. But I never got hooked on Geany.

Well, lately the projects I have been working on lately have gotten huge in the number of files that they have, and TextMate was starting to have a tough time dealing with all the files. It is a known issue with textMate that it re-scans the files each time you return to TextMate. That got tiresome quickly enough. You can turn of the re-scanning, but then would I miss a file/dir change or what? I wasn’t bothered in trying to find out.

So enough was enough, and I decided to try Emacs out again, there is a Mac OS X version which I downloaded and that sorted out the Esc key only issue. And a little Googling later I had installed various modes etc and my .emacs file has grown ridiculously, but I am a happy clam again. I do not know what I was thinking or what I initially tried when I was first having issues with Emacs. It just seems this time, things clicked into place for me and I was able to find and setup decent modes.

Some things that I have learnt this time round, that are making my life real good, are;

  • making use of frames. I now generally have a couple of frames open at a time
  • yasnippet
  • pareditb
  • ido-mode. Absolutely fantastic in moving around dirs, opening files.

I do seem to have a better understanding of Emacs now, which is really helpful. Busy playing around with the org-mode. I have a number of feeds connected to various emac blogs.

Here’s to having settled on a text editor.