For many people, Emacs is a black box that few dare to open. Yes, Emacs is hard to learn, especially if you try to use it the “right way”. I guess this is what most people are so afraid of. A sad fact when you know how much it has to offer.
A few years ago, before I was an Emacs user, Richard Stallman was in town talking about free software. At some point during his talk, he just mentioned Emacs and everybody started cheering and applauding.
Most of us have heard stories about Emacs and how awesome it is, including me at the time. I thought to myself, what is so darn special about Emacs that makes everybody in here go crazy? From my experience with Emacs at that point, I thought: Emacs is ugly, the key bindings make no sense and it is really hard to use. Today, I would probably be one of the people cheering and applauding loudest.
Here at Burt, we use many different editors: Emacs, TextMate, Vim, Sublime and more. Vi vi vi… the number of the beast. Nah, screw it! I am so tired of the so called “editor wars”. I will not tell you to use Emacs instead of some other editor. I will show you what is so mind blowing and brilliant about Emacs, so that you will hopefully regret every minute spent in another editor.
If you are like me, you spend most of your day in your Editor. If I can spend a little bit of time doing something that makes my work just a tiny bit easier, it’ll be totally worth it in the long run.
Think about this fact (yes, fact). No matter what kind of editor you use, the end result is always the same! The customer does not care what editor you use, because the outcome has to be the same anyways. What really matters, is the process of reaching that goal, as fast and painless as possible. This is why I choose Emacs, it gives me a very fast and pleasant ride.
Take a look at your keyboard. You probably have a QWERTY layout. Did you know that the keys on your keyboard are placed in such a way that your typing should be as slow as possible? Not a lot of people know that.
Kind of sad, right!?
When I started using Emacs, I read that you do not use the arrow keys to navigate in Emacs. The problem was that none of them mentioned why. It took me quite some time to actually learn why, and I did so the hard way.
In Emacs, if you can do it, you can do it from your keyboard. You never have to or should use your mouse. Moving your hand from your keyboard to your mouse is slow and will make you loose focus (this is why Emacs has all those weird looking key bindings). The same goes for the arrow keys, which most editors use for navigation. Emacs has a much smarter key binding layout so that your hands are always in the typing area, always in focus.
If you agree that productivity is a big deal, make sure the input interaction in your editor does not slow you down. But there is more to productivity than just input interaction. The next blog post is about the number one reason to use Emacs, namely Elisp.
Here are a few good Emacs resources: