[OS X TeX] What do I miss out on?

Joachim Kock jkock at ya.com
Sun Apr 10 15:17:47 EDT 2005

> What do I most importantly miss out on by not using BBEdit, or Emacs, 
> or Alpha(X/TK), or TextWrangler, or TextMate, or something yet more
> interesting instead (or as external editor in combination with)?

Ah hm, here we go (without mentioning any editors in particular):

Since "We On This List Do Not Use WYSIWYG Word Processors" (right?)  (and
also "We Eschew Formated Emails", right?), everything we write is pure
text: TeX, emails, occasionally a html page or a wiki page, a short shell
script, a little maple programme...

That's a large part of our interaction with computers, and it is nice to
have one dedicated tool for all this: a multi-purpose text editor.  Then
many powerful features are common: search-and-replace with regular
expressions, keyboard shortcuts for manipulating text, completion triggers,
navigation schemes, diff functionality, comment handling, and
auto-this-or-that.  And then for each of those types of text editing, the
editor provides a 'mode' with specific functionality, like context
sensitive completions, interaction with an external programme,
auto-uploading of wiki pages, or whatever.

Commonly, these multi-purpose editors are very configurable and scriptable,
and soon you have an environment tailor made for your typing habits.  Soon
you feel crippled whenever you find yourself typing in another programme
-- Eudora is a great Mail application, but it doesn't have that handy
keyboard shortcut for capitalising current word, or whatever you have grown
accustomed to using, and so on.  Typing outside your favourite editor is
like typing with ten thumbs...  This goes for typing in another powerful
editor too!  When you first try out an alternative editor you will probably
find it awkward or intimidating.  It has often been said that the choice of
editor is like the choice of religion, and mostly you just stick to the
first one you get into.  Indeed, to be able to judge a fullblown editor you
must use it for many years, in order to feel its spirit and take advantage
of its power.  And once you are that far, perhaps there is not much point
in switching...

Of course it is not without risks getting too much involved with an editor.
Sometimes you simply spend far more time on configuration and scripting
than could possibly be justified rationally in terms of those milliseconds
you gain with your smartnesses -- admit it then, that your editor is
becoming a toy (too)!  (Just like your computer, perhaps...)  And sometimes
you develop a reality distortion and must absolutely use your editor as a
spread-sheet or as an interface to iTunes, or to read the weather forecasts
or to play tetris, even if there are much better interfaces available.  You
are becoming a slave...

So there are many good reasons to stick with TeXShop and Mail...


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