Hail the Majesty of Emacs

by Tim O'Brien

Related link: http://www.gnu.org/software/emacs/emacs.html

Yeah, it's a slow news day, but after reading Derek Sivers' Lovesong to VIM, I thought it was time to invoke The Great Holy War. I couldn't let the day end without giving a shoutout to Emacs.

I'm not even going to engage in a debate for something that is already established as scientific fact. To do so would be giving credibility to the wild accusation that vi can even compete. I leave you with some lisp-poetry.

Fear ye the mighty power of Emacs. It yields to no one and lights the path to true enlightenment. Dare not disturb Emacs with erroneous key strokes.


2005-08-18 20:30:29
The Superior Editor
is the editor that has more functionality, and can emulate the other editor. Emacs can emulate vi. vi *cannot* emulate emacs. End of discussion.
2005-08-19 02:56:26
The Superior Editor
Of course, that begs the question of why you'd get Emacs, only to emulate vi in it. :-)

Me, I'd just make a beeline for Vim.

2005-08-19 03:16:06
Vim addresses at least two thirds the complaints about vi raised by users in that study, and adds many things there was no explicit complaint about on top of that. Of course, the study fails to mention a number of complaints I’d register against Emacs.

Not only is a flavour of vi available just about everwhere, but I can work productively with it. With Emacs, even if it was everywhere, I’d still be lost without my .emacs, whereas missing Vim and my .vimrc is annoying, but no hinderance.

And is operation really modeless, or are the modes just masquerading in Emacs or GUI editors? In Emacs, you depress control keys to enter commands; in a GUI editor you invoke a menu. During the time you are holding a control key in Emacs or have the menu open in a GUI editor, you cannot enter text into your document, instead, your keypresses are interpreted as command shortcuts or as menu navigation. Smells like modes to me.

The difference is that Emacs says “RSI? What’s RSI”? and GUI editor menus can have no concept akin to the motion/ranges/counts that make Vim commands so powerful.

2005-08-19 03:37:36
The Superior Editor
Humm :


Package: vimacs (0.95-1.2)
Emacs emulation for Vim

Vimacs (_V_im-_i_mproved E_macs_) is a Vim plugin, which brings Emacs extensive keybindings and modeless editing features to the the Vim world, while completely retaining Vim's powerful moded editing style.

Chmouel -- Happy Emacs User thought (and vim sometime).

2005-08-19 10:18:23
the argument that would not die
emacs: tastes great!
vim: less filling!

i learned emacs first, but then forgot how to use it and learned vim. i use vim now only for that reason: i remember how to use it and work more productively. you like emacs? more power to you! great editor. soon as i have the time to go through the manual some more i'll use emacs for some things.

now can we stop this, please? like a running joke, this war goes in and out of the realm of funny the longer it goes on.

2005-08-19 10:30:46
Who seriously expects to convert anyone from the other side? I certainly don’t. If anyone is engaging in this squabble with any seriousness, they have my pity. :-)

I love this war. Other people dress up and go to Ren Fair; I write long and passionate speeches about virtues of Vim and the devil that is Emacs.

2005-08-19 11:36:20
how can emacs be the devil when the mark of the devil is 'vi vi vi' ? :-)
2005-08-19 11:51:07
Aristotle says:

Not only is a flavour of vi available just about everwhere, but I can work productively with it. With Emacs, even if it was everywhere, Id still be lost without my .emacs, whereas missing Vim and my .vimrc is annoying, but no hinderance.

You assume that you have to log into a host and then fire up the editor. In emacs you can open a file on any host you can reach (via ftp, ssh etc).
So you *never* have to be without your .emacs
Welcome to the next level.

2005-08-19 16:28:19
Only a philistine would confuse vi and ⅤⅠ.
2005-08-19 16:35:54
Sometimes, you actually have to stand up from your computer and work on the physical keyboard of another.

Sometimes, you are using a public terminal or a colleague’s machine for some emergency work, with no way to access your home machine to fetch dotfiles.

Sometimes, you are at a client or in a remote office and you find yourself using a Windows box. So Vim suddenly has to be installed, just like Emacs. Okay, that’s done… hmm, now what about those dotfiles…

Welcome to the real world. :-)

As for the next level: :e rsync://pageslinger.example.org/public_html/index.html

2005-08-20 19:37:59
Re: But, it always invokes passion

I agree, this is the one war I'm glad people are still fighting, and, really, that's why I posted my vainglorious ode to Emacs. I find the constant back and forth exciting, and was growing tired of everyone poo pooing the old text editor.

Even if we disagree on the relative merits of emacs and vi, I think we can both agree that knowing either one in a prerequisite to even enter the ring.

2005-08-20 19:39:49
the argument that would not die
I beg to differ, the very fact that a blog post on Emacs shows that we're all still passionate about text editors. Plus, the marginal cost of electricity to store and transmit these bits is far outweighed by the periodic need to trumpet one's editor of choice.
2005-08-24 06:20:31
Re: But, it always invokes passion
Absolutely we can.

I'd include BBEdit with the contenders, actually; I used it for a year when I worked at a Mac shop, and it has its own set of merits.

But it seems foolish for someone who's wrangling text for a significant part of each day not to have given the power tools a serious try.

2005-11-18 18:01:48
vim is lot more than vi
Emacs users try to compare emacs to Vi in features and claim emacs is much better, but in reality they don't seem to realize (or choose to ignore) Vim is like 100 times more powerful than the original Vi, while still retaining all the original advantages of Vi. I guess, they choose Vi to compare, because they know their arguments fail miserably against Vim :)
2005-11-18 18:07:25
Netrw supports this in Vim as well.
Tim O'Brien
2006-04-11 14:22:23
Dude, emacs sucks