Date: 2022-07-24
Last Updated: 2022-07-24
#EditorWars #Simplicity #RamblingRant

Emacs is a great operating system

I have had the desire to try Emacs for several years now and have attempted it on a trial run on several occasions. I think this past weekend is the trial that has been the most successful. You see as a long term (~9 years) Vim user and more recently a NeoVim user (~1 year), I have become very comfortable in my cosy terminal surroundings. I adore the simplicity of a modal terminal editor like Vim (though there are many who would scoff at calling Vim “simple”).

Yet time and again I hear of how easily Emacs can do something relative to Vim’s attempt, I pine to be able to use Org-mode, to be able to do the whole lot in one single application. An Engineer at my first job told me that Emacs is a great operating system, and that Emacs enthusiasts would have an email plugin, a Slack plugin, and a web browser plugin. That in essence they would come in the morning and fire up Emacs that spend the whole day there. To be honest I’d have never told him this but that sounds sort of appealing to me.

Though over the last 6 months at Randori have have found myself using PyCharm and GoLand, both JetBrains IDEs, another venture that I began on a trial run. I opted to try an IDE because of its code navigation abilities and Randori’s Python code base is quite big for a new developer. Though I must admit that I never actually setup the PyCharm IDE properly (not for the want of trying) and thus it does not really function as an IDE in the proper sense of the term. After my holiday, I have forgotten much of the keybindings for PyCharm though Vim’s keybindings ring fresh in my mind (like a bizarre sort of muscle memory). I dislike the bulk and setup associated with IDEs, it just feels cumbersome and intimidating.

Anyway somehow this lead me to looking at Emacs again and again. So I installed Doom Emacs this weekend, and after several hours of beating my head on the keys, I deleted Doom and installed Spacemacs —which I think is much better than Doom out of sheer ease of use. However don’t take that last point too literally because I find the learning curve for Emacs to be daunting, especially because I am already so familiar with Vim, I know how to do nearly everything that I need to do in it. But alas Emacs has some sort of masochistic draw over me for better or worse. I have to say the main fault that I find with Doom & Spacemacs is that there are too many knobs and switches, it’s overwhelming to say the least, which is exactly the same way that I feel about IDEs. Another thing is that with Vim I can search for a way to do so task online and get useful results, but doing the same for Emacs / Doom / Spacemacs the keybindings, package install processes etc. are all different. In the end I don’t think there is any argument that Emacs does more than Vim.

But that’s the beauty of Vim though.