Hello Emacs World!

Sep 19, 2018 00:15 · 1001 words · 5 minute read emacs org-mode vim productivity editor

Yet another Emacs Convert

Boring History of why/how I chose Vim

I have always thought of myself to be a command line person. When I forayed into the world of Linux, like everyone else I had Google-d quiet extensively on which editor would be best to invest my time in.

Most of the answers to the question of “which editor to learn first” was biased by enthusiasts from either side of the Vim/Emacs camp. It is safe to say that your milage may vary vastly depending on where you are looking and who answers this question.

A common answer though would be “Emacs is an operating system that can function as an editor” and “Vim is lightweight and fast text editor”. The limited time that I spent with Emacs and rather long journey of using vanila Vim, I can attest to that statement.

I chose Vim because by default it(actually Vi not Vim) gets shipped with every Linux distribution out there. Not just that it was light weighft, commandline/terminal centric. Like everyone else I started my Linux journey on a rather low speced PC and as a result of that I used to monitor the RAM usage of the applications that I ran on Linux, for the purpose of my text editing I felt that Vim was a better choice than Emacs because of its low memory foot print.

For many years I have now been using Vim in a good capacity although I must admit I never really got to becoming a pro-vimmer1 but at the same time I am not one of those that just open a file with vim because they are on some server use arrow keys to navigate and then exit(I have seen way too many people do that) and funny part they claim that they know Vim. And in the spirit of keeping it light weight I didn’t quite bloat my vim config with too many plugins either.

Why Emacs?

Colemak

It’s been one amazing year transitioning and using Colemak as my default keyboard layout. But as you can imagine, that kind of disrupted the Vim workflow. The default key amppings wasn’t super ergonomic to use with the colemak layout.

I tried Colemak keybindings for Vim, but then I was scared of losing my ability to use Vim on servers. Forgetting to carry my Vim config file along with me would mean spending time trying to map my Colemak keys to the default vim keys in my brain, something I am not ready for yet! After few weeks of using and giving the Colemak keybindings for Vim, I decided that I would just use the vanila keymappings even though it wasn’t too ergonomic.

Emacs makes use of Control and Meta keys for navigation which kind of sits nicely with Colemak.

Org-Mode

If I had to give one compelling reason why you should use Emacs then it would have to be Org-Mode period! I don’t have the exact statistics but I feel that atleast 10% of Emacs users would have gotten into Emacs because of Org-Mode.

“If not for anything else use Emacs for Org-Mode”

Somebody from a youtube video on Emacs and Org-Mode

It is just an amazing software package(if I may say that). It is absolutely well thought out and pretty much anything you can think of is already provided to you by the package. If in the rare event that you don’t have a certain functionality then I am pretty sure the community has your back with a supporting package for Org-mode. Org-mode can pretty much anything and everything you could think of. Outlining, Accounting, Checklists, Planning your Agenda, Tasks, Project management, Timer, Calendar, managing contacts, you name it and I am pretty sure you will find something in the documentation or in the package to achieve it.

I will make a separate post on Org-Mode and its greatness and how I use it in another post because quite literally I can go on and on talking(praising) about this package. I still haven’t scratched the surface of Org-Mode myself.

The best part of it all is that its all just text file.

Markdown Mode 2

I must admit that there aren’t a lot of good markdown editors, one of the charms of markdown mode for me is that I can insert links, headers, without having to remeber its syntax because I always seem to be confused when it comes to links in markdown does the curly bracket contain text and the square the link or is it the other way round.

With markdown mode I just need to type C-c C-l and it prompts me for URL, Title and inserts it in markdown way for me. It also has live preview mode.

Yes! there are markdown editors that have these functionalities, but then I like to a single editor to deal with all things text. Instead of having to open an individual application for each find of text file I want to open.

Curiosity

I wanted to try Emacs from the day I learned about the best text editor wars between Emacs and Vim. Org-mode and Colemak gave me the much needed impetus for me to switch.

Another reason for wanting to learn Emacs was to learn Lisp. Becasue Emacs power comes from the ability to tweak pretty much anything once you learn Elisp, this was an added charm3.

Does that mean I will stop using Vim?

I have made Emacs my goto editor. But then there are times when I am working on terminal/servers that I can’t get Emacs onto. And in such situations I still use Vim and am glad that I know it pretty well!


I will try and do another post more Emacs focused soon.

Stay Tuned!


  1. Vim user who counts the keystrokes when editing and using vim (made up term) [return]
  2. After reading and learning more about Org-Mode, you can use org mode to generate Markdown too, pretty cool isn’t it? [return]
  3. Just started learning Elisp [return]