Someone on twitter pointed out Neal Stephenson's statement on emacs this morning. He had high praise for it. It's ridiculous. Emacs and vi are great for... what?
Here's the statement quoted:
I use emacs, which might be thought of as a thermonuclear word processor. It was created by Richard Stallman; enough said. It is written in Lisp, which is the only computer language that is beautiful. It is colossal, and yet it only edits straight ASCII text files, which is to say, no fonts, no boldface, no underlining. In other words, the engineer-hours that, in the case of Microsoft Word, were devoted to features like mail merge, and the ability to embed feature-length motion pictures in corporate memoranda, were, in the case of emacs, focused with maniacal intensity on the deceptively simple-seeming problem of editing text. If you are a professional writer—i.e., if someone else is getting paid to worry about how your words are formatted and printed—emacs outshines all other editing software in approximately the same way that the noonday sun does the stars. It is not just bigger and brighter; it simply makes everything else vanish.
He lost me at "I use emacs," had me back at "thermonuclear word processor," lost me at "created by Richard Stallman." (Thought Bill Joy had something to do with it, though.)
Look, I get that emacs doesn't do everything Word does, and probably 90% of Word focuses on features nobody uses; I turn off some of the things that annoy me like that damned autocorrcet stuff. And the ribbon, don't get me started.
Actually, yeah, get me started. Look: emacs and vi might make you feel like you've nine inches in your pants, but in the real world, we have these common user interface things, where we know that the "File" menu has a "Save" menu option in it. Sit a monkey in front of a computer and ask him to crank up Word and Emacs. In Word, he'll have Hamlet long before he even figures out how to exit Emacs. Same for vi. Sure, all they do is edit text... and require you to learn a wired set of commands that make no mnemonic sense.
Sure, you bring up XEmacs. But the Emacs purists see XEmacs as being less good than Emacs. So what that tells me is that Emacs people like having a cathedral they can live in. You can't come in unless you memorize the secret codes, right? ^X ^S, or ^K ^Y, or meta-m 412 meta-c c c 7. Then comes the secret handshake and you're in, unless you get caught by the dogs in the yard.
Vi isn't any better.
Look, if you're using one of these editors, more power to you. But have the courtesy to save your praise: it only means you're waving your superiority flag as hard as you can, because otherwise you'd have wasted the time you took to learn how to, like, SAVE FILES.