in Tech

Emacs vs Vim vs None Of The Above

BBEdit for years. Then Vim for years. Then Emacs for years. In between I’ve used just about every editor there is. I love them all.

Emacs is everything anyone could ever want in an editor, and more. It’s the “more” part that gets you. At some point this weekend I realized I had spent nearly two hours trying to dial in Emacs window behavior and failed. Even if I had succeeded, it was still two hours I could have been doing something else.

Something else like play with NeoVim, maybe? 🙂

Oh for crying out loud. I had almost forgotten that I was actually using NeoVim instead of Vim but never completely finished getting things set up. Spent the morning working on it before realizing that I was doing the “just a few more tweaks and it’ll be perfect” thing again. I also wanted to see what the NeoVim GUI landscape was looking like these days so I tried Oni, and VimR and…

By about 10:00am this morning I had gotten so frustrated with myself that I gave up and decided to use neither Vim nor Emacs for a while. I need a break from myself.

I don’t edit code much, so what I really want is a place for writing and taking notes. If I keep everything in Markdown I can use any number of apps interchangeably. Right now it’s looking like some combination of iA Writer for writing, BBEdit for text/code editing, The Archive for research and miscellaneous notes, and Agenda for project notes.

Everything changes.

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  1. @jack Some days I just edit crap in nano, other days I use the micro text editor, because its like nano but has some extra features. I don’t like GUI-based editors, despite all their bells and whistles, although I sometimes edit in TextWrangler because its so lightweight for the power.

  2. @dgold I think it’s partly the fatigue induced by editors like vim and emacs forcing me to keep everything in my head (key bindings, features, buffer lists, etc.) all the time. Some days I just want to find the tool I want by browsing menus and pointing and clicking. It usually passes after a week or three 🙂

  3. @sumudu In a sense, yes. iA Writer and Agenda have both iOS and macOS apps. The Archive does not, but doesn’t need one really as it’s meant to be a wrapper around a folder full of Markdown files in Dropbox, so I use 1Writer on iOS for that. BBEdit is for heavier text manipulation, which I never do on iOS so that one doesn’t matter to me. Until recently, I haven’t really cared about having iOS counterparts, but that’s changing, which is part of what prompted me rethinking my tools, (again) :).

  4. @sumudu I’d describe it as “sporadically consistent” :). I use it only for personal stuff, and mostly when away from a computer. I also stopped trying to be “fancy”, which helped avoid the constant tinkering. I still find it valuable. The immutability of notes on paper helps stabilize my thinking.

  5. @sumudu That’s very true, which is what causes the “sporadic” part :). I keep it on my desk always but don’t always think to switch to it. This is one reason I try to spend at least 30 minutes every day at my (analog) writing desk.

  6. @sumudu Yes. It’s neat but I don’t love it. Still too much friction between wanting to write something down and actually writing it down. I’d rather write on paper and scan it afterwards.