[clug] Why do we do what we do in Linux? [was Re: Text editor]

Paul Wayper paulway at mabula.net
Sat Oct 25 22:34:55 MDT 2014

Hash: SHA1

On 26/10/14 11:26, steve jenkin wrote:
> So what do the best-of-the-best get from a “command line editor”, that
> they don’t get elsewhere? If anyone knows, I’m interested to hear. [In
> practice, modern variants of ‘emacs’ aren’t just command-line, but whole
> environments that use windowing tools & concepts efficiently.]

I think there's two competing forces here:

1) Use the editor that's right for the job.  Edit code in code editors, edit
documents in Libre Office, etc.  A graphical editor is great for a variety
of reasons but sometimes (e.g. ssh'ed into a machine in a terminal) you have
to use a pure text interface.  OTOH vim and emacs have complex tools for
editing code that simpler editors (even graphical ones) don't have.

2) Personal preference.  Some people use vim, some people use emacs, some
use geany or eclipse or kate or nano or whatever.  Certainly vim and emacs
seem to be installed as standard, but if you're not likely to be editing on
other people's machines use what works for you.

Mostly what's important is fluidity - the ease of translation from concept
to text.  If you're writing a document which has complicated formatting, you
will be faster to use an editor that tools specific for that job, and those
tools may not suit other tasks like editing a configuration file.  Likewise,
I could edit the raw XML of a LibreOffice document by hand in vim, but it's
much easier to use the tools that do all the formatting and encapsulation
work automatically.  I edit my HTML in Geany because I've always worked at
the raw text level so I'm familiar with that - other people use WYSIWYG
tools to edit HTML with basically the same result.

The fundamental observation is that most non-trivial editors have lots of
functions for making your work easier.  Learn them.  I've found it really
useful to learn 'ctx' to change to the next 'x' character.  I'm not going to
drop vim for emacs just because someone else demonstrates that it can do a
similar thing.  Once you get familiar with it, that technique is quicker
than just pressing 'x' lots of times.  I'm sure emacs has something similar.
 In geany I just use ctrl-shift-right to quickly advance up to the place I
want to replace to; I wouldn't discard geany just because it doesn't have a
direct equivalent to ctx.

Hope this helps,


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