A week with Emacs: one week later

As promised in my last post, I have spent a whole week using Emacs.   Apart from the odd foray with Nano and Mousepad I  haven’t touched Eclipse or Netbeans or any other IDE and  managed to stick to Emacs for the full week.

How did it go?

To start off it was slow. Emacs has a notoriously high learning curve, and I pretty much started at the bottom. One of the reasons for doing this was so I could move away from the mouse and it turns out that the mouse is an extremely hard habit to break. So to are the keyboard arrow keys. I kept on finding my hands would instinctively  jump off the keyboard and try to double click on something, or try to navigate around the page with the arrows. This is clearly not the way it is done in Emacs!

The next thing I found is that Emacs doesn’t let you indent code files as you want. It seems to have a preferred method and forces it on you. This is very annoying and being a n00b I still haven’t found a way around this.

However, after a couple of days I began to get the hang of it. Still painfully slow, but navigating around the page, buffers and windows was becoming gradually quicker. I began to enjoy using Emacs, even though my right hand kept on unceremoniously lurching to the right from time to time.

By a complete coincidence, on Wednesday I was invited to C-Base here in Berlin for a beginners’ introduction to Emacs. Even though it was all in German, and my Deutsch ist nicht so gut I was blown away by not only the speed but also the huge amount of functionality within Emacs. To see someone who actually knew Emacs inside out was a revelation. I made a huge amount of notes (within Emacs before you ask!) ready to test out for myself. This insight into the “how the pros use Emacs” has really been an eye-opener and I am determined to learn just a fraction of what was on display at the tutorial.

Summing up my week with Emacs.

It was hard work, there was much and is even more left to learn. It is a vast landscape to negotiate, with many nooks and crannies. But once it is mastered I have no doubt that my productivity will be greatly increased.

Other people diving into Emacs

Some useful sites

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  • http://twitter.com/vladimirprieto vladimir prieto

    so, one week later you still are a complete noobie? :S

    i have 1.5 days and was beging to get desesperate! :S!

    i will try to stay in calm for the next 6 days :)

    let’s c where i end.

    • http://www.robsearles.com Rob Searles

      Hi Vladimir,

      I’m actually now using emacs for 100% of my coding. It was a struggle to get emacs playing well with php and html and css and javascript at the same time, but the Emacs Wiki site is very useful: http://www.emacswiki.org

      It’s a tough learning curve, but if you get the hang of it, you might find it hard to turn back!

      Good luck

  • http://twitter.com/vladimirprieto vladimir prieto

    so, one week later you still are a complete noobie? :S

    i have 1.5 days and was beging to get desesperate! :S!

    i will try to stay in calm for the next 6 days :)

    let's c where i end.

  • http://www.robsearles.com Rob Searles

    Hi Vladimir,

    I'm actually now using emacs for 100% of my coding. It was a struggle to get emacs playing well with php and html and css and javascript at the same time, but the Emacs Wiki site is very useful: http://www.emacswiki.org

    It's a tough learning curve, but if you get the hang of it, you might find it hard to turn back!

    Good luck

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  • http://cederblad.myopenid.com/ hced

    Hi Rob. For the indentation, how about including this into your .emacs init file:

    ;; ========== Indentation ==========

    (setq standard-indent 2) ; Set standard indent to 2 rather than 4

    • http://www.robsearles.com Rob Searles

      Hi Henrik,

      Thanks for the tip, although I don’t thik this solves the initial problem I had of trying to use the tab key to manually indent and not “magically” indent – if you know what I mean?!

      Thanks for the message
      Rob

  • http://cederblad.myopenid.com/ Henrik Cederblad

    Hi Rob. For the indentation, how about including this into your .emacs init file:

    ;; ========== Indentation ==========

    (setq standard-indent 2) ; Set standard indent to 2 rather than 4

  • http://www.robsearles.com Rob Searles

    Hi Henrik,

    Thanks for the tip, although I don't thik this solves the initial problem I had of trying to use the tab key to manually indent and not “magically” indent – if you know what I mean?!

    Thanks for the message
    Rob

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