The history is documented here: http://landoflisp.com/ (scroll down and follow the arrows).
The endless scroll section with the arrows. Great! :D and the music video...hypnotic.
I'm an Emacs user for years now and love the editor. But I'm curious about this claim of its poor popularity. The article refers to a piece from
http://www.linux-magazine.com/Online/Blogs/Off-the-Beat-Bruc... which bases its arguments on two surveys from 2013 and 2014.
Does anyone know of a credible way to measure the popularity of Emacs and what the usage trends are in 2018 other than SO?
Of course it's great to see someone who actually really does know any piece of software give a demo of how they use it.
For Vim newbies I'd point people first to the Vimtutor and then to http://vimcasts.org/ as a starting point.
I use all three for various purposes, but an IDE is a very useful things when working with languages that can take advantage of it.
The few times I've tried IDE plugins they get the Vi/Vim basics right but usually fall down later.
The terminal means that I can almost always have consistent keyboard based workflow across platforms.
I like being close to the OS and use external tools for things like git, debugging, profiling, etc.
I'll supplement that with GUI tools when it suits me. E.g. for web work I'd use Chrome for it's debugger and profiler.
I really like that things like Language Server Protocol are offering IDE like features without being tied down to a particular GUI IDE.
There' more than one way to do it though so if GUI IDEs are what you prefer more power to you. GUI IDEs haven't been new technology since the 80/90s. They're just different.
Pretty much all i use it for is
dd, O/o yy p/P cc I A f/F ... hmm, the list keeps getting longer...
People are most productive when they use the tools they know best. I use vim all the time, but I also like to use the right tool for the job, and sometimes that tool is an IDE and other times that tool is a gasp mouse.
( P.S. Please don't take this comment too seriously or personally, I am mostly kidding and am being extra hyperbolic on purpose because this thread seems like such a wonderful opportunity to rehash the never ending vim vs sublime debate and I wanted to get the sublime side of the argument off on a strong footing ;) )
Its weird to me how people will spend weeks learning openstack or kubernetes in depth but never think "there must be a way to do this..." or get round to googling a 5 minute basic command tutorial for the text editor they use every day.
Also, a huge number of other editors have vim keybindings as an option or plugin: intellij, eclipse, visual studio - the list goes on forever...
(try it yourself! If you're on a Mac, open the reply box in a browser that uses Mac-native controls, and start typing, then hit C-a or C-e or other readline key combos and see which ones work)
I think I managed to crash the IntelliJ vim keybinding mode like twenty times when trying to get used to vim.
I did try later to just use vim on it's own, but it really doesn't appeal to me at all, I have to google pretty much everything I need to get done and that takes so much time, is there a way to make vim show a help bar just like nano has?
(At home, I use GNU/Linux, though.)
Jonathan Blow and Casey Muratori (he recently switched to something else I think, not sure if he's back to Emacs) being two prominent ones.
I use Emacs whether I'm on Linux, FreeBSD, macOS or Windows.
It's fine to use vim, and it's fine to use emacs. No need to get upset over a piece of technology.
A lot of Elixir devs use vim, as well, and many came from Ruby/Rails.
I'll deny it. I doubt there is any kernel of truth to that sentence at all.
~ Emacs user who frequents Reddit
(though not the tech subreddits because I get enough of that stuff here)
/r/vim subscribers: 54,406
/r/emacs subscribers: 22,701
If anything it seems like emacs users are over represented on reddit :)
Conclusion: vi/vim was everywhere already.
Now days I use sublime. I still use vi/vim when using *nix servers.
You need to learn to open a file, edit it, move around and exit and the edit/view mode. Everybody learns how to do it. At first it sucks but you can learn this in 5 min.
Nothing too hard, and yes, do use the direction keys, it's not the 70s anymore.
From there you can learn other things
You try reading anything about it, there's something about Meta key (and apparently nobody can say what the actual meta key is without some wrangling from them because who knows if you're not coding on a Sun Sparc from the 90s so they don't want to compromise).
Then something about a "prefix command" C-x (what is C? Control? Which other program uses C as an abbreviation for that?) Buffers. What's a buffer?
I tried opening the help of both programs, VIM shows exactly what I mentioned there. Move around, close this window, etc
Emacs? I'll copy-paste here (key bindings help)
> C-x Prefix Command
> \200 .. ÿ encoded-kbd-self-insert-ccl
> C-x 8 iso-transl-ctl-x-8-map
Why the F is this relevant or useful?
Then I try to quit and it's a bit of a wrangle until it gets Ctrl-C Ctrl-X right (or the other way)
Everything seems like it's actively fighting the user, and making it more difficult or convoluted than it should.
Usability problems are never the fault of the user.
Yet another thing 70s got better than today's software. The defaults you're used to are a historical accident, and are also crap - that is, an impediment to productivity.
> I tried opening the help of both programs (...)
> Emacs? I'll copy-paste here (key bindings help)
How on Earth did you get there? The very first thing in the Help menu (also conveniently bound under C-h t, and also conveniently listed in help-for-help view that shows if you press C-h C-h) is the Emacs Tutorial. The thing that's designed to teach you the basics quickly. Just read and follow the instructions, and it will all make sense.
As for whatever you just pasted here (looks a bit like output of C-x ?), it's probably part of the self-documenting aspect of Emacs, which you're yet to discover. That is, you can get help and documentation on absolutely everything - including runtime values of key bindings, variables and functions (both C and elisp) used by Emacs.
> Everything seems like it's actively fighting the user, and making it more difficult or convoluted than it should.
It's not. It's just:
- following a (somewhat) consistent set of UX principles that are older than IBM CUA (which gave you CTRL+C / CTRL+V, etc.). Older does not mean worse.
- a tool for serious users, who are not afraid of spending 5-15 minutes reading the tutorial.
To be clear, I'm not arguing here for Emacs over Vim. I'm arguing here against the stupid - and stupidly common - approach that proper UX means a newcomer must be able to use the software productively after 30 seconds of exposure to it. It's a stupid approach, because the only way to do this is to dumb down the program to the point it does so little that it can be mastered in 30 seconds. Emacs, like Vim, and Blender, are tools for people who want to be productive. A prerequisite here is the willingness to learn something.
Agreed, that's why I use modern IDEs as well when vim gets in the way
> How on Earth did you get there?
f1 + ? then "describe bindings" which looks like the most relevant option
(I had opened a file with emacs first, I see the welcome page has more helpful guidance, but opening a file is usually what people do first)
> following a (somewhat) consistent set of UX principles that are older than IBM CUA
Sure, it's the same with vim, old standards
> a tool for serious users
Thanks for reinforcing my point that Emacs is more worried about gatekeeping people than being friendly
Any ideas how it could be better?
It has a built-in tutorial. It has thorough help. It welcomes you with instructions on getting help, as you noted yourself. There's plenty of guides and tutorials on-line, too. What else could it do to be more friendly, that would not involve sacrificing its productivity features?
Because it's not really gatekeeping - otherwise why would Emacs have so many, often annoying (myself included), evangelists? It's just about keeping the productivity ceiling high.
There are a couple of things to explore. I've followed your suggestion and looked at the tutorial, which is fine for the most part (Alt didn't work but it's probably my terminal's fault, ESC ESC works but it's not great)
Compare it with vimtutor.
In the 1st page vim taught how to move around and how to close VIM. Emacs is still teaching 'PgUp/PgDown'. It teaches you how to insert text 7 pages down. Vimtutor: 3rd page
For this basic operations emacs is not harder than vim it is just that they go on and on on and don't get much to the point. To find out how to save a file you need to go all the way down and then read about 'buffers' and how your file is now a buffer and you save it (??)
And that seems to be the main difference. Everything is harder than it should be. Most shortcuts involve C-x something or C-x C-something (which is not very ergonomical). It does not share the conventions or even the vocabulary of other systems.
And something that applies to vim as well: Programs should cut the crap about using direction keys/PgUp/Down/Home/End. My 80s computer had them. Every modern computer has something similar to those operations and that works on all programs. "Oh but then you have to take your hands off of home" I do use a mouse and I do use other programs, as much as I like shortcuts, I have to move my hands and there are a lot of shortcuts outside of that area.
> Most shortcuts involve C-x something or C-x C-something (which is not very ergonomical). It does not share the conventions or even the vocabulary of other systems.
Hey, Vim is the ergonomic one, Emacs is the extensible one (ergonomy improves somewhat with evil-mode, aka. vim emulation in Emacs) :).
> Programs should cut the crap about using direction keys/PgUp/Down/Home/End. My 80s computer had them. Every modern computer has something similar to those operations and that works on all programs. "Oh but then you have to take your hands off of home" I do use a mouse and I do use other programs, as much as I like shortcuts, I have to move my hands and there are a lot of shortcuts outside of that area.
The reasoning here is this: those conventions used in modern programs are hurting your productivity. Vim in particular is strongly optimized towards making your keypresses maximally efficient. Emacs much less so, but still, its defaults beat arrow keys, for which you need to move the entire hand.
FWIW, Emacs has cua-mode (named after that IBM CUA thing I mentioned), which gives you behaviour similar to every other program you know. Maybe it could be introduced to people earlier, but there's a good argument against it - CUA keybindings are really inferior to what vim/Emacs gives you.
I've seen VIM portrayed as this holy grail of productivity for several years now, while Emacs has always been portrayed as a quirky complex editor.
I'm a VIM user and never used Emacs (nothing against it) but, correct if I'm wrong, both have a similar philosophy and have a higher learning curve than modern editors. They're also both extremely powerful under the right hands.
When I first got into VIM, it was from some conference video showcasing it and how to get good at it. Now remembering back I don't think I ever saw a similar thing for Emacs. I've heard of VimCasts but never heard of EmacsCasts (or something like that). It probably exists, I just never heard of it.
Maybe that's what missing for Emacs?
Take all this with a grain of salt. I may just live in a bubble regarding this :D
The thing is, just like conditional, symbolic expressions and garbage collection are pretty important for writing expressive programs, so too a power extensible interface to textual information is important for communicating with a computer. vi(m) is a great editor, but emacs is a great editing environment.
In the process of learning a tool thoroughly you forget what it was like to not know how to do it.
So, it becomes hard to write a good beginner's tutorial. And you forget why the things which help beginners are useful, so they just look like clutter.
Personally, I don't think that 10-15 minutes reading the Emacs tutorial is much help to anyone. However, I am glad that I have spent the past few years learning how to use Emacs (and I haven't even learned elisp properly yet), and grateful to the people who made it and all the great software around it.
>I'm arguing here against the stupid - and stupidly common - approach that proper UX means a newcomer must be able to use the software productively after 30 seconds of exposure to it
No one here made the claim that Vim is better because you can be productive faster, nor was it said that productivity software should have no learning curve.
In my experience, the fact that I can navigate a file without taking my hands off the home row far outweighs any disadvantages hjkl might have.
With emacs, the big point is that you can do so many things in it that you never have to leave it; that also means once you have the keyboard shortcuts memorized, you can use them everywhere - besides editing text, emacs can serve as a mail client, a web browser, an IRC client, a music player, telnet/ssh client / terminal emulator (kind of), you can even play Nethack in emacs.
You can't expect to become fluent in emacs within a couple of minutes, but if you are willing to stick around, the time spent learning emacs pays off big time.
That's half of the benefit.
The other half is, in Emacs things compose and interoperate. That fancy autocomplete plugin you just installed? It will work for suggesting e-mail addresses just as well as for suggesting function calls in code. Multiple cursors? Regex search-and-replace? Keyboard macros? They work everywhere, whether you're writing code, exploring the filesystem, composing e-mails or tweeting/tooting on Mastodon.
That's the reason many people, myself included, try to move as much of their workflow as possible into Emacs. The right thinking is this: Emacs is an application platform for everything that uses text (or can be made to use text), and has much better defaults and interoperability capabilities than your regular operating system.
In other words, its not stuff that's going to drive adoption. The ggp has a point about emacs having a higher barrier to entry for complete beginners.
With emacs, as with C++ or .Net, the idea is that the effort to get familiar with the environment pays off big time after a certain point.
If somebody asks me (that happens almost never, though), my reply is to tell them about the long term-benefits of using emacs and to give both emacs and vi a try and decide what they like better. And that emacs vs. vi is not necessarily an either-or-decision. I use emacs as my main editor, but I often find myself editing config files using vi. I prefer emacs, but vi/vim is an excellent editor, too. More generally speaking, if somebody tries to frame something like the choice of editor as an either-or-question, consider if a-as-well-as-b is a valid answer, too.
I'm also inclined to say that, unless you work in a Windows shop, there really isn't any either-or to it. vim is, at this point, so pervasive that I think the real alternatives are either "just vim" or "emacs and at least a little bit of vim".
I do not. Maybe I was not clear enough, but I made the point in another comment that I totally understand why somebody would choose vim and never look back. I used vim as my editor of choice for a couple of years, and I cannot deny that it is an excellent editor. I still use some flavor of vi on a regular basis, even on OpenBSD, where mg (a lightweight editor that copies emacs' default keybindings) is part of the base system.
In my experience, most (if not all) of the people who use Vim or Emacs are programmers — and I am including sysadmins etc. in the wide category of programmers — and a programmer typically spends far more time thinking about what to type than the actual typing. So I don’t see how the speed of typing is synonymous with productivity.
 Unless it’s a Java programmer — they spend most of their time typing — just kidding.
I agree that Emacs overall is more complex overall (which is not necessarily a bad thing), but from a "first impressions" perspective, Emacs wins.
Do M-x (alt-x) and type help-with-tutorial, hit your enter key (RET in Emacs jargon).
If I start vim and press `Ctrl+C` I get an helpful message saying "Type :qa and press <Enter> to abandon all changes and exit Vim".
If I do the same on emacs, first the help screen disappears (which was the one telling me to use `C-x C-c` to exit emacs and then I just get stuck with an unhelpful message about creating new files.
> Get out of Vim: Use ":qa!<Enter>" (careful, all changes are lost!)
The joke is not relevant anymore
";; This buffer is for text that is not saved, and for Lisp evaluation.
;; To create a file, visit it with C-x C-f and enter text in its buffer"
It comes with a Menubar as found on most applications and rightmost is one labeled help, the first entry goes to the tutorial
"Emacs tutorial. See end for copying conditions.
Emacs commands generally involve the CONTROL key (sometimes labeled
CTRL or CTL) or the META key (sometimes labeled EDIT or ALT). Rather than
write that in full each time, we'll use the following abbreviations:
C-<chr> means hold the CONTROL key while typing the character <chr>
Thus, C-f would be: hold the CONTROL key and type f.
M-<chr> means hold the META or EDIT or ALT key down while typing <chr>.
If there is no META, EDIT or ALT key, instead press and release the
ESC key and then type <chr>. We write <ESC> for the ESC key.
Important note: to end the Emacs session, type C-x C-c. (Two characters.)
To quit a partially entered command, type C-g.
To stop the tutorial, type C-x k, then <Return> at the prompt.
The characters ">>" at the left margin indicate directions for you to
try using a command. For instance:
>> Now type C-v (View next screen) to scroll down in the tutorial.
(go ahead, do it by holding down the CONTROL key while typing v).
From now on, please do this whenever you reach the end of the screen."
It goes on at length covering all basic aspects of using emacs. Under the help menu there is also an extensive manual.
If this isn't discoverable enough a logical response would be to type Emacs tutorial into your favourite search engine and read at least one of the results.
You say "Usability problems are never the fault of the user." and your not wrong per se but tools have intended audience and reasonable expectations. Scalpels and coffee pots are made for different users and its challenging to make a scalpel that would enable a surgeon to remove an appendix without having to crack a book.
Microsoft office which is aimed at a much broader and less skilled user base makes it very easy to enter a little text but its very normal for users to receive training, google for answers, and RTFM.
Regardless of what anyone hopes neither vim or emacs are much used by random joe to read their email they are tools made by technical people for technical people.
Given the audience I don't think its unreasonable to suppose that people who bypass both tutorials, and manual in favour of describe bindings and leave without a pit stop at the search engine might be the cause of their own discontent.
Let me make a wild guess here. You got frustrated. Took a minute to consult google to figure it out and moved on but you left that part out because it didn't support your position.
> Nothing too hard, and yes, do use the direction keys, it's not the 70s anymore.
All of that applies to emacs too. What's the difference?
> Usability problems are never the fault of the user.
That's contrary to the old saying: a bad workman always blames his tools.
That is not what that means.
If GP had said "I cannot write good code in Emacs", that'd be a poor craftsman blaming their tools. But saying "this tool is not as effective as this other tool" is a thing that good craftsmen do.
(I'm not addressing the original claim, just meta-meta-critiquing your meta-critique).
If something as basic as a text editor is so unintuitive it is not the user's fault.
There's always the option of providing better examples or documentation, or a more intuitive "control scheme" which allows users to toggle between "old" and "new".
The fact that some tools choose to do it "the hard way" is almost entirely rooted in tradition and reluctance to do it another way. Not because it's better.
It's in the post
> That's contrary to the old saying: a bad workman always blames his tools.
It doesn't go contrary. Some tools are bad, some don't.
That's why I choose the tool that doesn't get in the way and don't blame me for not joining their cult: vim
- In Vim, you learn how shortcuts work and how they compose, and then you can apply them to a bunch of new situations and "guess" which other shortcuts apply.
- Emacs can do a whole lot and you can customise it exactly to your liking. Oh, and it also supposedly works really well with Lisp.
Not sure how accurate my view of Emacs is, but the Vim selling point has turned out to be true for me. The Emacs selling point just didn't appeal to me. I don't care for having to customise my text editor everywhere I work with it, and I don't know yet what awesome customisations there even are. I also don't use Lisp (though I'd like to, someday, and might checkout Emacs then).
Evil, the Emacs vim plugin, implements the vim commands plus some popular vim plugins (like vim-surround), and the resulting experience is awesome. I'm a heavy Spacemacs user and the user experience is so well done that it is a joy to use.
Really? It would have to be a modal editor to use vim commands. Emacs commands, on the other hand, could work with the vast majority of editors out there, and actually do work in many cases. readline, for example, which is used by bash and many other CLI programs uses emacs bindings. fish and zsh use them too.
Or it would have to emulate them. Which is what VSCode, Atom, Visual Studio, Eclipse, Intellij, Netbeans, Kate all do. Those are just the ones I have used, I'm sure there are plenty of others.
> I'm sure there are plenty of others.
Emacs, for one.
Most Emacs users don't use it for lisp (aside from programming the editor if needed).
So I started with vim. I also was drawn to the whole "composable shortcuts" thing. But I quickly realised that these key combinations were not shortcuts, rather the keyboard is the interface. I was completely sold on using the keyboard to edit text and wondered why on earth we ever forgot how to use it. The rat was banished.
What stopped me even trying to start using emacs was the lack of antialiased fonts. But I downloaded and built a pre-release with antialiasing and was able to try that too. I think it was the emacs concept of major modes that initially made so much sense to me. I then quickly discovered two "killer apps": org-mode and magit. That's how the only love affair I've ever had with software started. Within a few weeks I was learning Common Lisp thanks to being advised that it would make Emacs Lisp easier.
Saying Emacs is good for "customisation" is one of the grossest understatements that is so often repeated around the internet. It's repeated even by people who use Emacs and know better, but it's quite hard to describe what Emacs really is if you've never used it.
Emacs is deeply related to the Lisp way itself. Emacs isn't a text editor. Emacs is a Lisp environment that is particularly good for building tools related to text. Emacs is written using Lisp and Lisp is written using Emacs. Emacs users regularly use Emacs to extend to itself while it is running. Lisp users often talk about this moment of enlightenment that happens at some point when you learn Lisp. It's real and it happens when you learn Emacs as well.
But I feel a bit like someone trying to explain an LSD trip. You just have to see it for yourself. I didn't try Emacs because the above was attractive to me. I tried it because I wanted to learn a general purpose text editor and Emacs had great tools like org-mode and magit. The fact that I got to experience a kind of enlightenment and a feeling of love for software was pure luck.
Emacs still is not that high of a priority for me to learn (I don't care much for org-mode or non-CLI-git), but at least it's on the list now, so well done :)
Its simple. Its called 'The Rise of Worse is better'.
Mainstream programming tools moved out of the control of power users long back, like decades back. We are now in a phase where every thing has to be 'easy' to use. Editors too are a part of it.
Look at the continuing rise in interest in languages like Python and Go, and decline in interest in languages like Lisp and Perl. People don't want to invest any time in learning and sharpening their skills more than what is minimally necessary. In fact Go's popularity shows people don't need anything at all. Just give people decision statements, and loops. That is all they need. Selling power user tools to this crowd is asking them to spend their meagre 40-hr work week time budget on things they never even want to.
Basically bulk of programming moved to API plumbing work long back, and they are not coming back ever.
When the James Damore memogate episode was playing out in prime here, there were full articles posted on this very forum about the 'problems with nerd culture'- Which basically involved people spending time outside work to learn more things as inherently being anti-diversity, evil-like and a big problem to those people who want to do the 40 hour week happily go through their jobs.
Basically the world is only getting dumber.
Worse is Better.
If you need a swiss army knife, then by all means use one. If you need a drill, Go ;-) with that.
There is beauty in simplicity as well.
I understand that some people have simple needs. I don't. The editor wars are over for me and Emacs has won.
Perhaps another underrated issue affecting relative uptake is keyboard layout.
As the OP explained, Berkeley vi was originally developed on an ADM-3A tty, with no arrow keys and the "Esc" key where a modern keyboard would position the "Tab" key.
In contrast, Emacs first appeared in anything like its modern form on LISP machines, which had a radically different keyboard layout from a modern PC or Mac — much less austere, lots of modifier keys (not just Ctrl and Alt, but Meta, Super, and Hyper as well!), and an Esc key tucked out of the way at the top left, as is standard today. Here's s photo: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9a/Symbolic...
If you consider the ergonomics of typing lots of Ctrl- and Meta- keystrokes on the Symbolics keyboard above, it's fairly clear that it requires a lot less hand stretching to play those chords in the key of Emacs. So it was a cheap design choice for the original Emacs folks to take that route — but every time I've tried to spend serious time in Emacs over the past 30 years on a PC or Mac keyboard, I've ended up with stabbing pains in my wrists within a week (and I will note that back in the 1990s FSF programmers were notorious for always wearing wrist splints).
The basic vi commands can all be executed from the main QWERTY keyboard area, plus the Enter, Ctrl, and Esc keys. If the position of Esc really bugs you, you can rebind it to the Caps Lock key on your keyboard (depending on hardware support, of course). The point is, there's far less chording involved.
So my working hypothesis is that vim is gaining leverage due to selection bias for an editor that hurts the hands less when you use it intensively on an IBM PC-descended keyboard layout rather than a Symbolics keyboard. But "less pain in wrists" is not something we spot easily, so a whole load of post-hoc justifications get invoked to explain the preference.
I used to think "emacs pinky" was a joke, but it is real. Eventually I learned how to re-map Caps Lock to be a Ctrl-key (I never used Caps Lock anyway), and Caps Lock is far more comfortable to reach with my pinky than either of the regular Ctrl-keys.
Side note - I've noticed a big improvement in general hand pain since I got into climbing regularly, and specifically starting working with a hand exerciser.
It apparently originates from typewriters, when holding shift was quite physically taxing (since it literally shifted all the typeheads over to put alternate characters over the ribbon); so caps lock saved a lot of finger strain when typing acronyms or writing symbol-heavy text.
It's 2018; our keyboards could stand to keep up.
Interesting hypothesis. Ergonomics is certainly one of the reasons I chose vim over emacs.
"Ever so" = for all, so
"Never so" = for all, not so
"Not ever so" = not (for all, so) = there exists, where not so.
The last is fairly clearly the intent of GP. Startup is short either way now, but there exists a time when it was not short - insert references to old slow hardware that would take 10-20 seconds to boot emacs.
Developers tend to work on a single machine so can tailor it much more to their own preferences.
I actually really like emacs, for a while I used it as my login shell (no x-windows and with e-shell providing a command line), and elisp is an awesome tool (in theory if not always in practice), but when I moved into sysadmining and later consulting the practical issues meant vi was by far the best option.
You can access the remote shell from TRAMP and run commands, just like you can access the local shell from Emacs on your local machine.
eshell supports TRAMP: from an eshell, you can do something like 'cd /ssh:firstname.lastname@example.org:/opt/news/etc' and then run `ls` &c., seeing the results you expect. You can run 'service restart innd' or whatever you'd like, it it runs remotely.
Yeah, emacs is pretty awesome.
The number of Unixoid systems I have to take care of is sufficiently small that installing emacs on all of them is no big deal. I usually start an emacs daemon after booting and use emacsclient to fire up an editor, which is almost instantaneously.
I'm a developer, not a sysadmin, though I try to do most of my ops work via Tramp these days. I wish an actual sysadmin and Emacs user could chime in and say something about their workflow, and the problems they encounter.
(And, secondarily, launch times then were longer; 0.2 seconds vim vs. 2 seconds emacs is a very different comparison than between 2-second vim and 20-second emacs.)
I often joke than with all the Vim plugins I use, I manage to make my Vim starts as slowly as Emacs (I haven't encountered wide popular success with this joke though)
Vi has the advantage that you can learn the basics in an hour or so, and from there on out it's mostly about training your muscle memory. You do a lot of stuff with very few keystrokes.
Emacs, of course, is mostly about extending and customizing. Therefore, emacs requires a larger up-front investment of time, before you get to the point where that pays off. Once it does, it is awesome, but I can understand that people tend to choose an editor that lets them be productive faster.
There might be more to it - I never did much customizing when using any variant of vi, for example. But that was my experience when using vi and later emacs.
Vim works pretty well. It's simple enough to get by. But these days, I usually only use it for viewing mode. And maybe for some light editing.
For anything more complicated, then I just shell into the server, and open the file in a full featured text editor.
C-x f ssh:me@public-server|ssh:me@private-server|sudo:private-server:/home/me
And it will just work, opening a dired view of the home directory on remote server, with root privileges. Further commands (e.g. opening files) will also work on the remote, mostly seamlessly.
Internally, Emacs manages shell connections and translates your operations to shell commands; e.g. opening a file will copy it over to your system, and saving it will copy the altered version back.
Whilst I'm happy to use plain Vim it can be useful if you've customised your own set up and don't want to port it to each server.
For those interest in how use raw Vim as a "fully featured" editor I'd recommend Drew Neil's book,
I know this is getting away from the main point of the article, but they're purpose is more to have a standard format that compilers can generate and eprom/device programmers could read without being concerned with the machine's endianness. Pretty much any embedded compiler can produce a .hex file, and pretty much any programmer will read one.
Intel hex was one of the original file formats I targeted for gnu bfd (after a.out and coff of course)
When I was a kid I liked to poke around executables in the MS-DOS world. Hex editors were limited in the sense that they wouldn't let me insert bytes into the file, just edit existing ones. Because I didn't have access to an disassembler or an assembler (they were sold at stores but they were too expensive for me), I wrote a simple program that would convert a binary file into a text file full of hex codes, then I could edit that, change jumps to different addresses, change strings, and then I would reassemble the executable with another program to see the effect. I used this to translate programs and games to Spanish by changing the strings in the executable. Messages in Spanish are in
average longer than English ones, so I couldn't just use a hex editor.
It's funny to me that the hex file format is a real thing.
I'm always happen to see when a uC vendor IDE keeps the elfs and the programmer takes elfs.
When I got my dad's old Windows 3.1 laptop somewhere around 1999, I discovered DOS and started fiddling with it, eventually discovering the "edlin" editor. Everyone else though it was bizarre and hard to use, but I really liked it because I could look at different parts of a file at the same time.
The commands were similar to the example given here for ed, but the output much much easier to read. Does anyone know if it was another clone or just coincidence?
>When I use an editor, I don't want eight extra KILOBYTES of worthless help screens and cursor positioning code! I just want an EDitor!! Not a “viitor”. Not a “emacsitor”. Those aren't even WORDS!!!! ED! ED! ED IS THE STANDARD!!!
>When IBM, in its ever-present omnipotence, needed to base their “edlin” on a Unix standard, did they mimic vi? No. Emacs? Surely you jest. They chose the most karmic editor of all. The standard.
EDLIN was a clone of CP/M ED. Was CP/M ED influenced by Unix ed? I don't know, but I somewhat doubt it. Gary Kildall's primary background was in IBM mainframe and DEC minicomputer systems (in particular VM/CMS and TOPS-10), and so it seems to me more likely that CP/M ED was influenced by DEC or IBM line editors, than by Unix.
That said, Unix and IBM mainframe operating systems share some common heritage. Both were influenced by CTSS. So, it may be that any observed similarities between CP/M and Unix line editors could be due to that shared ancestry, rather than any direct influence of Unix on CP/M.
I once saw a hardcore emacs user forced to use vim because he was building a setup that allowed shell users to edit a file. And couldn't do that in emacs. So he had to use rvim -y.
I myself once built a nethack shell server where I used rvim to allow users to edit their nethackrc.
So distros preferring vim can either stem from it being vi-compatible which is POSIX. And/or from having a restricted mode.
I would entirely agree that a lot of vims popularity lies in it being part of the default install on pretty much every unix box ever though. That and it actually being a decent editor once you get over that initial insert mode/command mode learning curve.
There is a whole history of why emacs is not likewise in the SUS, already related long since by other people.
The quickes way to validate this believe was to look for the Ubuntu package sizes (look at the size (installed)):
The TRS-80 Level II line editor was very much in the spirit of "em", along with other BASICs of the day.
And perhaps a nod to the even more cryptic Teco.
But... I use Emacs. I've been using it for almost twenty years. And I'm struggling to think of anything I use regularly the involves hitting more than two total keys simultaneously (keys pressed in sequence obviously don't work as an argument, since that's also how you edit in Vim). I think the only one is query-replace, because it involves hitting Shift to compose the M-% combination.
And I don't use a ton of custom keybindings, either. The only custom binding I use that's simpler than the default is goto-line, which I have bound to just M-g.
Do people genuinely run into cases where they frequently have to be hitting 3+ keys simultaneously to use Emacs? Or is this just one of those "everybody knows" things that's actually completely false?
I have respect for emacs die-hards - though I suppose that those who never leave and still do shell, email, news, web browsing, etc., from emacs are few and far between.
As a lisp fan, the best of both worlds for me would probably be an emacs vi-mode with lisp programability - but I can't depend on such a thing everywhere
"Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star'd at the Pacific—and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien."
Substitute Spacemacs for Pacific and we're on the same page!
Paredit mode has several useful ones for writing elisp.
- C-M-f, C-M-b, and C-M-u (forward-sexp, back-sexp, and up-sexp)
- C-( and C-) (barf and slurp commands)
- C-M-k (kill-sexp)
M-: (eval-expression in the minibuffer) is also a frequent command for me.
I've overlaid several keys in the number row with Control and Alt, so they are nice to press with my middle and ring fingers (as opposed to pinkies). I've been meaning to write a blog post about this.
(Well, by default C-M-u is bound to backward-up-list, either that's what you meant or paredit really defines a slightly different up-sexp commands. I don't remember right now.)
The worst command I regularly use, in terms of number of modifiers, is definitely C-M-% for query-replace-regexp.
Vim itself has many corded commands which I find are especially useful in Insert and Ex mode.
As a long time Vim user I know I'll probably never move to another editor like Emacs. That's because of familiarity with Vim and not because of any failing with Emacs shortcuts.
With time you end up enjoying both way of life, I despise some ergonomics of emacs, and I really love the crystalling side of vi command systems (it's almost a tiny algebra of text sculpting).
but ..lisp. so emacs
One I can think of is M-! (shell-command). I'm a vim user, and I frequently use the corresponding :r !some_command to read output from a shell command into the vim buffer.
Search and replace with regular expressions takes 4 keys in the default bindings! The command query-replace-regexp is bound to C-M-%, which means ctrl+alt+shift+5 on most keyboards. (To be fair, you can also replace alt with previously pressing esc, so "esc then ctrl+shift+5".)
If you like vi, Evil mode exists.
If you like modal editing, God mode exists.
If you like sequences, Hydra exists.
If you like chords, remapping caps lock to control exists.
(and in GNU Emacs, just-one-space binds by default to M-SPC)
True it is missing regular expression-support, but it does have find, and many people (including myself) have forked it to added regexps, lua-scripting, and other advanced features.
Fish disks contained mostly freeware/public domain as far as I remember. Not open-source software.
Last time I checked, there's no clear advantage from users' perspective for now but some plugins have started targeting it as the primary platform and also a few GUI are being developed too.
tcsh is my default shell, but I never program in it because of “C shell considered harmful”. I write my programs in original Bourne shell instead for maximum portability.
Even when I’m on a GNU/Linux variant, I run vim by calling vi, primarily because syntax highlighting enrages me to no end.
vi won because it came with every UNIX by default, and when one is in a cold server room connected to /dev/console via serial port at 3 o’clock in the morning, one quickly learns to appreciate vi’s ready availability and ubiquity.
Emacs on the other hand was always a huge program, was never bundled with UNIX by default, and compiling it on one’s own always ended in failure somewhere around Emacs wanting to compile itself as an Xwindows application.
Add to that that Emacs had completely different key bindings and users would have to adapt to it rather than it letting them use their prior knowledge, it was a death knell to Emacs. Later versions added vi key bindings (“evil mode”), but since the pre-built versions continued to insist on Xwindows, it was wholly unsuitable for servers; for example, an SGI Origin 200 or Origin 3000 didn’t even have a frame buffer nor did they need Xwindows, and neither did the hp K-, N-, or L-class servers. Meanwhile, vi continued to be the UNIX system administrator’s trusty friend: always there, with no additional software requirements.
Ironically, when I’m on the Amiga I use vim, but there it doesn’t have syntax highlighting which I hate, and so is usable out of the box (I use it as I would vi on UNIX, without any extra vim fluff).
Not that I want to interfere with your choice of editor. ;-)
I don't know anyone below 40 using emacs. (Neo)Vim using (lots of) plugins has a pretty solid user base around here. Most is Atom / VS Code / Jetbrains IDE but vim has a solid standing especially along the more enthusiast programmers.
I can't stand IDEs. I understand their benefits, but the amount of resources they take up appall me at some deep level. I'll use them and grumble if I need to. I haven't really liked an IDE since the Turbo Pascal 4.0 days. I also have a thing about not liking software that tries to second-guess me. I'll take a vim session loaded with files and another terminal window to build the project in and I'm golden. Of course, I'm not working on huge projects for the most part. Maybe it's an old-person thing.
Definitely saves me whole seconds per year...
I've been using vim for years, and I'm still learning new things about it. Thank you.
They didn't answer this question. The most obvious to me is that Linux distros have had it as the default for decades. If FreeBSD caught on instead maybe we'd have people writing the same article about the amazing history of nvi.
This is a weird thing to me. When I was getting started with this stuff, everyone out there acknowledged that vim was a vi clone in the first breath. There are now lots of folks that think vim is the primary thing. Kind of similar to how they call shell scripting "bash". I guess it's rather like asking what brand of Kleenex, or a Coke in the southeastern US.
> ...Emacs could cost hundreds of dollars (this was before GNU Emacs)
Emacs clones (of various levels of compatibility) for unix and other systems could be purchased back around the time this sentence is set, but to be fair, the original Emacs (or EMACS -- the ITS filesystem only had upper case) evolved by RMS et al from Gene Ciccarelli's TECO init file was naturally free. And Bernie Greenbergs Emacs clone for Multics (called emacs because Multics was case sensitive) was also free (and the first one, as far as I remember, to be written in Lisp).
While "emacs" is the command to invoke emacs, it was always referred to as Emacs in the documentation and the program itself.
You can use it at https://ban.ai
Multics's use of mixed case used to weird me out. (It was my problem...I eventually got over it)
See the comment with the most upvotes:
Edit: Found it
Regular expressions originated in 1951, when mathematician Stephen Cole Kleene described regular languages using his mathematical notation called regular sets.
I recall the early days of RoR crowd were pushing for Vim too. It was hipster in term of adopting new and awesome things and RoR crowd really push some new things. This was when the editors war was still a thing.
Tim Pope's plugins came later.
A casual google shows this including a poll in 2014: https://www.sitepoint.com/editor-rubyists-use/
There's even a quora question too:
And a plausible answer "Why rubyists went with vim over emacs could stem from the popular rails.vim plugin from Tim Pope."
This is instant no matter how complicated your config. You can also edit remote files via tramp so you never have to leave your local emacs instance.
This means that the proper comparison is instant access to your customized instance with your plugins vs instant access to whatever environment you can sync with all machines you intend to access.
What vim users don't seem to understand is: I never restart emacs. Mine stays running for weeks, even months at a time. When I change my emacs config I just run the code. I don't restart emacs.
Self-deprecating humor ?