Changing sides in the editor war !

Written on 2019-03-21 09:36:46

So when I started studying programming, I felt like working in the terminal was the way to go. It seemed like I could do more things, have more control over what happened and also, it looked cool !

Of course I had to find an editor and nano was not an option. I wanted something shiny !

That's when I started using vim. During five years, I kept fiddling with my config files (that I should add to my dotfiles repo) and I reached a nice level of comfort in my editor. Of course, since I love editing my config, I kept looking for things to change but I couldn't find any.

So I figured I should try something new. I installed different Window Managers (openbox, i3, and herbstluftwm) which was fun. But once again, I got bored.

That's when I thought I should try emacs. I started by watching videos about emacs, mostly from Thoughtbot. I stumbled upon a presentation from a vim conference presenting evil-mode. A great I mode that allows the use of the vim keybindings in emacs. If at first thought it would be a good way to transition, I felt like a big part of the vim philosophy is due to it's keybindings and that emacs was probably the same. I decided to leave off evil-mode at least for a start.

So I started using emacs and, at the same time, reading Clojure for the brave and true which uses a REPL in emacs. The problems I encountered were due to different factors linked to the suggested config :

  1. My tiny screen couldn't display the font in the config properly
  2. I found some plugins a bit invasive in my coding method.
  3. I couldn't easily change the config since I didn't understand it.

So I started a new config from scratch. At first it only set my font and and my theme to gruvbox but then it moved to adding small plugins.

What happened next is that everytime I had any trouble doing something in emacs, I'd open my terminal emulator, start vim, and do whatever i wanted to do. Basically, I was avoiding the problem rather than solving it.

That's when I found EXWM -- Emacs X Window Manager. This thing is crazy, if you use it you'll basically be living in emacs and everything you do will go through it. So of course I set it up.

It's been six months now since I installed emacs and I'm still using EXWM. I read and send email with notmuch+isync, I'm currently installing elfeed for my RSS feeds, I write ALL my documents in org-mode and even moved my config to a single org file. (Did I copy this idea from this fantastic presentation you should abolutely watch ? Maybe...)

I still use vim for most of my system files and I'm not going to stop. vi is installed on all system I have to access remotely and I still like it but emacs is now virtualy my OS. I still have a lot of configuration to do but I know it is beneficial to be open to different methods and different tools.

I guess the moral of the story is : if you're using either vim or emacs and haven't tried the other, I strongly recommend it ! If you've tried neither, flip a coin ! It won't cost you anything and if you don't like what you tried, you can try the other side !