Two months ago I blogged about switching from Vim to Emacs. Today, Emacs is my main editor. I’ll try to keep this post short and to the point, because there is a lot to cover! But by the end of this post you’ll have to answer to the question whether you should give Emacs a try.
What is a text editor?
If we’re just talking about using Emacs as a text editor, then there is no comparison; Vim beats it, period. But is our job description a text editor? No. We are system administrators, software developers, web designers, etc. A text editor is a tool that we use to do our job (or hobby). And any tool should be replaced when a better option is available.
One simple example is
grep. As a developer, you can immediately gain a productivity boost by replacing it with ack or ag. Do they search faster than
grep? No. But since they’re so good at ignoring things (like your
.git directory) that for practical purposes they end up saving you a lot of time.
As a text editor, I think Emacs is quite terrible. Its key bindings are notoriously bad to the point that something called Emacs pinky exists. If you’re an Emacs user not interested in Vim bindings you should seriously consider taking a look at god-mode or control-mode. But where Emacs really excels is all of the things outside of text editing.
Emacs is a great operating system, if only it had a good text editor.
Well, the nice thing about an operating system is that you can write a text editor for it; that text editor is called evil-mode.
Now, as a text editor, Vim is still better than evil-mode for obvious reasons, so if you’re just swapping it out you’re at a net loss of productivity in terms of text editing. However, what you gain from all of the other things that Emacs can do far outweighs the missing features.