Exodus to Emacs

Recently it would seem that everyone is jumping ship from Textmate and making a move to Emacs. Seeing as Peepcode just released their Emacs screencast, I thought I might as well have a look. I’ve used Emacs quite a bit as it’s my preferred *nix editor over Vim, but I’ve never bothered really learning any commands beyond Open/Save/Quit, which is surprising, as my first job as a Java developer was spent coding in Emacs. Looking back, I don’t know how I ever survived (Heck, I even remember not having syntax highlighting).

I’m not one for bandwagons, but, I’m very quick to move/try new technologies to see if they are better. It’s hard to ignore droves of developers saying they are moving to Emacs and to not wonder if it really has more to offer. On the surface, it’s not all that different to Textmate. At the end of the day they are both just text editors. Textmate, being Mac only, has more of a polished feel, but on the other hand becoming a master of Emacs would mean you could code away on nearly any platform, (then again, how much time do I really spend coding away from my main machine?). One thing that is funny though is that a lot of people making the move are installing commands that make Emacs more Textmate like, which seems to defeat the purpose of taking the time to actually learn Emacs.

I’m very 50/50 about the whole thing. People say you should stick to an editor and really master it and that’s what makes me so in-decisive about the whole subject of IDEs and editors. I never really take the time to get really deep enough into mastering them.

My head says Emacs but my heart says Textmate.

  1. Personally I use UltraEdit on Windows. It’s been trusty for about 9 years, or however long I’ve used it. It doesn’t slow me down. I can just let my fingers do the work. Enough said. Personally, I’d stick to what you know, unless there’s some major reason to change.

  2. I’ll admit that I’m guilty of customizing Emacs to incorporate a few of my favorite features of TextMate, but I think that’s a good thing!

    By using other text editors/web frameworks/programming languages, you learn things that you can take back with you to your preferred environment.

    For example, TextMate supports quick navigation via incremental search (Control-s). I wouldn’t have known about that unless I had tried Emacs. Likewise, I appreciate auto-completing snippets in Emacs, accomplished via a plugin that mimics TextMate.

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