When I started using Emacs, I had grandiose notions of producing copious
amounts of prose, linking it together in all sorts of interesting and helpful
ways, and basically revolutionizing the way I experienced computers. But most
of all, I had a new and urgent desire to do everything from the keyboard in a
blazingly efficient manner.
I proceeded to burn the Emacs keybindings into my brain and fingers. I
developed some slightly inefficient workflows (copying and pasting from text
documents into OpenOffice documents, editing the original text file based on
whatever page length I was going for, rinse and repeat until paper is
produced) that were, on the whole, a net gain due to the speed of typing
without mousing. The linux filesystem positively danced under my fingertips. I
had more control over my system than I had ever had on Windows.
I progressed to producing documents and drafts in LaTeX. While it’s a bit
arcane, using Emacs with AUCTeX made writing LaTeX arguably faster (and
certainly prettier) than writing in Microsoft Word. My long-held desire,
though, was to learn a programming language (I chose python) and code my
own Content Management System. Events in meatspace have conspired against me
acheiving that goal up to this point; now I am making progress. I can’t
imagine working in any other editor. Oh wait: I can. I switched to vim for
four months earlier this year.
Yes, I tried Vim
You heard me: I tried vim. My main motivation was a bout of Emacs Pinky. My
left pinky occasionally gets sore if I spend too much time on the laptop. At
the time I attributed it to the control sequences that Emacs uses, but now I’m
more aware that it’s just that my laptop has an inelegant and potentially
harmful keyboard. If I use an ergonomic keyboard with Emacs, I’m fine.
Vim was fine. It’s a great text editor. If you want a powerful text editor,
your two choices are vim and Emacs, and though I prefer Emacs, I won’t fault
you for choosing vim. It does some fantabulous things. You can script it in
python, for example. But scripting vim in python feels a lot like
scripting Emacs in python; there’s a lot of cruft, and it doesn’t play well
with the innards of the system like elisp does. And there were all these
little things that I missed.
What I’m Doing With Emacs Now
I’m evolving into the type of person who tries to do as much as possible
inside Emacs. Here’s a partial list of how I use it now:
- Email client
- Personal Planner
- Coding environment for my as-yet-unfinished CMS
- Writing Fiction
- limited web browsing (mostly online APIs for the python libraries I’m investigating)
- World Domination
Okay, I really haven’t used Emacs for world domination yet. But as I was
reading The Golden Age,
I was slightly disappointed when he was naming some of the far-future self-
aware AI characters, and Emacs didn’t make the list.