[CALUG] Best programming app

James Ewing Cottrell 3rd JECottrell3 at Comcast.NET
Thu Nov 24 15:48:32 CST 2005

Dave Dodge wrote:

>On Fri, Nov 18, 2005 at 12:22:41PM -0500, Carlos Astrada wrote:
>>I think I was a bit too vague earlier. I am looking for the best, in
>>your opinions, application for programming. I want something that is
>>powerful and efficient to use.
>This is very subjective.
Indeed. Also, criteria dependent. Do we want the best Free Software, or 
is a Commercial Product OK, especially for Serious Developers. If I was 
running a Software Development Business, I might be willing to Pay for 
anything that could increase the Productivity of my programmers. But for 
the rest or us, it's almost a duty to use and/or improve the existing 
Free tools.

>...  It really depends on what you personally
>find easy or comfortable.  I've been using GNU emacs for about 15
>years and have no plans to change that; I'm even typing this message
>in it.  Emacs can do just about anything (xemacs was originally the
>core of a commercial IDE), but it does have a terrible learning curve
>and can easily frustrate a new user.
I would take issue with that. The FSF has successfully taught their 
secretaries and other non-computer users emacs easily (remember, emacs 
predates wide computer usage; back then, computers were too expensive 
for The Public) . The tutorial and help system (as well as info) is much 
better than having to RTFM.

I would say that modeless editors are easier to learn than moded ones 
like VI. Of course, many emacs users learned vi first, and ended up 
typing vi commands into emacs (as did I) for quite some time. And by 
then, we were power users, so to *effectively* use emacs took quite 
awhile. Plus, there is lots more you can do (grep, version control, 
compilation, indentation, mail/news reading) so it seems somewhat 
overwhelming at first. Not to mention that even a basic .emacs needs to 
be lisp commands rather than the more obvious stuff (:set, :map) that 
goes in .exrc. But a few examples can overcome that too.

Another issue is that for anyone paying attention, the basic emacs key 
strokes are used for other tools, such as shells (tcsh/ksh/bash), and 
many GUIs as well, so many already know a few emacs commands. And the 
(moded) vi commands don't translate well to commands line editing.

>>I am trying to get away from learning to program via VI.
>There are plenty of career programmers who work in vi, or one of
>its supercharged variants such as vim.
Yes, but editing is just *one* of the tools. It's nice that something 
like emacs can tie them all together, but a fair treatment needs to 
mention make, rcs/cvs/subversion, diff/patch, rpm, profiling, 
ctags/cflow and any other myriad of tools.

>                                                  -Dave Dodge

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