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Editor Wars today

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The classic Vi vs Emacs editor war never dies and never grows old. But it has seen some updates and replacements over the years (or is decades more appropriate?). So what does a typical forum/reddit/slashdot post containing these two religions head on look like now-a-days?

Well, the first smart ass would point out that instead of Vi, the defacto contestant from the blue corner is Vim. This poster may also go at length to discuss modal editing and why it rocks. When he has beaten it into your head that if you don't use modes while editing, you're impure and should be led as far away as possible from any machine that has a possibility of performing computation. Replying to this poster, would be an Emacs fanboy. This creature will make you see that if you have any software, other than a bootloader and a minimal kernel which can launch emacs, on your computer - you're just being redundant. Such a creature also may be well trained in a peculiar language he refers to as Lisp or elisp. While he may try to explain why you calling the language Lisp is wrong because it is "a Lisp" and not "Lisp' per se, his explanations would fall on deaf ears (most probably on yours).

Then there is the rebel sonofabitch. When we have perfect symmetry with two competing groups, there will arise a Pico/Nano fan who will claim that he cherishes simplicity. There may be some references to NEdit and Joe but this is a declining trend. Unfortunately, this has been replaced by a growing trend of confused souls recommending Notepad++, PSPad or another similar product despite having little opinion on why are they recommending it in the first place. Its like everyone comes to an editor war to post after listening to Eye of the Tiger by Survivor, all pumped up, blood rushing through fingertips, aching to post an editor nobody has yet in the thread.

Similar to these souls are the puritan nutheads who recommend Elvis, XEmacs, nVi or microEmacs. They all have their reasons and some of them are even good. However in all my years fighting this war the only convincing arguments arose for XEmacs. Other than that, what I usually end up seeing is religious orthodoxy. Finally, there is a chance that you might see an elusive creature called the corporate monkey who is increasingly being spotted in geek territory. This is the only poor sap, who in an editor war would try to slip in his nomination for an IDE like Eclipse, Netbeans, VisualStudio or whatever his corporate overlords have ordered him to use. Be wary of this one, you might just end up waiting 30 seconds to 3 minutes waiting to write a "quick fire" note to yourself.

This post is meant to be tongue in cheek, so take it thus.

3 Comments On This Entry

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08 March 2009 - 09:34 PM
I write programs using a complex IDE like Visual Studio instead of Emacs or Vi simply because it handles all the little problems and organizes my work using the abilities of the GUI provided with my computer. No corporate person ordered me to use this program, I love using it on my own. I end up making a mess if I use something like Vi or Emacs.

The only time I use Vi or Emacs is when I don't have a GUI. But, an IDE can easily organize any project. Anyone who thinks IDEs are evil obviously hasn't written a neatly organized MMORPG server, game engine, or similarly huge program. It can be done- but I doubt it's going to be anywhere as neatly organized as one kept organized by a more complicated IDE.

This is the same as the best programming language argument. The answer is none, each of these editors are meant for something. Trying to use one editor for everything ends up locking you into rails and killing your versatility. I have several IDEs installed on my machine, as well as Vi (since I have two operating systems at once).


09 March 2009 - 02:54 AM
Ah my friend, this is meant to be subtle sarcasm aimed at the elitists or uber-cool-geekazoids who think Emacs or Vi can solve every known problem better than anything else. Be assured I'm in the same boat as you are, though I've had my fair share of editor warring, I'm now simply a distant observer to them. :)


01 February 2010 - 01:07 AM
I use Emacs almost exclusively for everything. I don't hate Vim, I just feel that Emacs is better for my purposes. The way I do things, and especially with the project management tools for Clojure and Emacs, I never have any problems with organization and such. Same with Haskell. If I was writing code in Java, though, I might actually want to use an IDE, but for now, I don't really need one.

I stay away from the editor wars, because I don't actually 'take a side'. I use Emacs, and I love Emacs, but Vim may be better for certain people.

I'd also like to comment on this:


Such a creature also may be well trained in a peculiar language he refers to as Lisp or elisp. While he may try to explain why you calling the language Lisp is wrong because it is "a Lisp" and not "Lisp' per se, his explanations would fall on deaf ears (most probably on yours).

Although this may sound "smartassy" and elitist, it's most certainly not. There are many many Lisp dialects around. People go as far as to ask questions on programming forums like this one and simply refer to the language their using as "Lisp". I'm with the crowd that likes to make sure that people understand that 'Lisp' is a family of languages and not a language itself. It's nothing to do with being a smartass, it's just very convenient if the particular language is mentioned.
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