EMACS: the Swiss Army Knife of Open Source

Author: CecilWesterhof

Emacs started as a text editor in 1976. But it evolved to become much more. You can use it as an IDE, an e-mail client, for IRC and instant message. It can even be used as a scripting language. You could then even run your scripts on 'every' operating system. How is this for portability? And this is only the beginning.

Sadly Emacs has got a very bad press. This kept me for years into using it. When I eventually tried it for one particular task, I soon could not do without it anymore. I 'cursed' myself for not having used it sooner.

Driving a car is more difficult as driving a bicycle, but is that a reason for not driving a car? Same with Emacs and basic usage is something that can be mastered very quickly. Emacs makes simple things easy and complex things possible.

There are a lot of degenerating acronyms about Emacs for example:

Emacs Make A Computer Slow,

but I found that this one is more truthful:

Emacs Makes All Chores Simple.

Emacs is completely customisable and extensible. One thing I wrote is a function that count lines, words and characters. How is this useful? Well if you publisher uses another algorithm to count words as your word processor, you are stuck. With Emacs you just implement the same algorithm as your publisher.

Emacs' interface is not exactly modern. It has not changed much since the 1970s and that can be a bit of a shock to users that expect all the bells and whistles that come with modern day operating systems. But if you can look just a little deeper than this superficial GUI, you will discover that Emacs' interface offers you speed and agility. An added bonus is, that you will probably not develop RSI.

With all the possibilities that Emacs has, I could talk the whole T-DOSE and not get finished. Because of this I will start with a short overview and after this I will ask the attendees what they would like to know and base the rest of my presentation on this.

If you are one of those persons that has been thinking about using Emacs, but was put of because what 'everyone' told about it, then this is the workshop to attend. It is also a good workshop for people who like to know more about using Emacs.