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I’ve started using emacs as my main XML/XSLT editor/browser. It’s awesome! After spending a few days inadvertently mangling files (rather like when I started using vi) I’ve gotten the hang of it and am _much_ more productive. I’ve found that with a lot of “power user” targeted products (e.g. all the *nix editors) that there’s some inverse relationship between the amount of pain they cause you while you’re learning them, and the amount of value and pleasure they provide/energy you spend evangelizing them once you’ve invested a little time learning them.

If you spend most of your working day manipulating plain text files in any form (be they html, xml or code in some form) (and if you aren’t already proficient in vi) I heartily recommend spending a day or so with emacs.

The three major timesavers I’ve found so far –
1) Ctrl + Space marks the beginning of a section, then Ctrl + w cuts that section into the buffer. If you’re a fan of the “new” windows multi-clipboard interface (which, I think, started in Office 2000) then you’ll really love “yanking” from the emacs “kill buffer”.
2) Ctrl + h followed by “a” puts you in “apropos” help mode. If you enter a portion of a command then emacs help will perform a regexp search and find commands containing that text. Useful if you want to learn a little about a topic without reading thru the manual (which is available under the help menu if you’re interested).
3) Recording keyboard macros that contain other keyboard macros. This is totally cool!

Thanks to Scott for encouraging me to spend the time to learn the emacs basics.

Written by jthurber

March 27th, 2003 at 12:09 am

Posted in General