Tuesday, 19 April 2011

VIM vs EMACS - again

«Two snakes facing each other!»

Looking to my blog statistics, I realized visitors come here mostly because they're looking to "vim vs emacs". It's comprensible: this is one of most (in)famouse computer "wars".
In last months I used a lot VIM, because I had some problems with Aquamacs Emacs. So, I decided to write another post to these two max-weight editors, maybe helping you to choose.


I became an Emacs fan since 1999, when I first heard about "a free, open source, configurable, programmable editor". I gave Emacs many tries, just because it was Emacs. But, let's admit it, it hasn't a quiete learning curve. Emacs has more options and controls than an SR-71 and has it's own default settings. This is the "beauty" of Emacs: to discover that a simple function (one-tab if I type tab key, e.g.) needs to be configurated.


Usually, everybody tries VIM after some frustration with Emacs and find a bit confortable with it. Editing file in a modal program is a bit weird, but become quite fast. You can have problems with some "complex" tasks, such as search-and-replace. To do this in VIM you have to type

:s^$/text to find/text to replace/gc

where, last 'c' stands for "confirm".


When I have to write an iPhone App, I must use XCode. When I'm working on a win32 platform, Notepad++ is the choice. To develop a Java application, I prefer Netbeans (and some friends of mine use it also for PHP development). I admit Emacs or VIM are fundamental to a programmer, but to use them for huge programs could be a delirium. So, as general line-guide I say:

  1. VIM or Emacs are good to write small/medium scripts
  2. For large applications, I'll use a SDK (Netbeans? Eclipse? XCode?)
  3. Emacs with cua-mode is easier than VIM, but you could have troubles with other tasks
  4. Do not be ashamed to use a simpler editor as gEdit, Kate, Bluefish or JEdit. Use what you prefear. A text-editor is just a tool. Real Programmers write programs

And happy programming! :)
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