[lug] emacs

Ian S. Nelson nelson_ at attglobal.net
Tue Apr 4 20:07:07 MDT 2000


> While I don't have time to write a "HOWTO" on emacs at the moment (and
> am not sure I'm qualified) I'm a fan of emacs and thought I'd share a
> little as to why:
> 1. I use it as my editor and as my mail client. So any commands
>    learned for one purpose apply to the other

It's a damn fine coding editor one you get the hang of it.  The flow fo
the key strokes is pretty good.  In VI land I always felt crippled by the
distant escape key, my hands aren't so big.  The control characters do
the majority of the editing and you really only need to use escape
periodically.  Of course others feel much more comfortable with VI, I'm
not trying to start a war.

> 2. there are many ways to perform the same command. If you have xemacs
>    you can use the pull down menus, if you are logged in from a vt100
>    (for instance) you can use some key bindings.
> 2b. there are at LEAST 2 key bindings for each command. One which is
>   sort of cryptic and the other which uses something similar to basic
>   english. So I can hit "[ctrl] k" to delete a whole line or I can
>   type "[esc]x kill-line"

I don't like that way of thinking about it.  The way I view it,
everything is a little lisp function and some of them are bound to keys.
When you run out of keys or forget them you esc-x to the lisp interpreter
and run the function by name.   You can also write lots of your own lisp
functions.  I'm partial to the cgvg code navigator so I consed up a
little lisp function to call it from within emacs.  Some people like the
do all their function and class prologs the same way and they can write
little lisp functions to do it for them.

> 2c. while it seems like you need to remember the last one in basic
>    english emacs actually gives you possible completions. So type
>    "[esc]x k" and hit the space bar. You get lots of possible
>    completions so you can search if the command doesn't jump into your
>    head.
> 3. there is a tutorial for self exploration
> 4. it runs on all flavors of UNIX, Windows NT and VMS. I therefore can
>    feel confident, that even if I'm on a strange system, I can find
>    (or download) a familiar editor and get right to work.
> Finally almost everyone learns software by need. I don't know all the
> commands, I bet I know less than 1/2 of them. But at this point in
> time I know all the commands I have ever needed.

Emacs also has a wicked help facility.  For it's complexity it is
remarkably well documented and once you learn a few keys and some
nomenclature it is easy to learn the rest with the help facility.

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