[OS X TeX] I'm done with TeXShop as my main editor

Christopher Menzel cmenzel at tamu.edu
Fri Dec 8 02:02:21 EST 2006

On Dec 7, 2006, at 7:11 PM, Google Kreme wrote:
> On 7-Dec-2006, at 16:23, Matthieu Masquelet wrote:
>> But to someone who is outside of this war, don't you think they both
>> look a little bit crazy? I haven't touched or even approached  
>> emacs in
>> many years so maybe my memories are getting really bad, but to me,
>> emacs is closer to vi than it is to TeXShop or even TextMate no?
> Well, closer?  Perhaps.  They are both text-based editors (TeXShop  
> or TeXMate or BBEdit are graphical editors), that is to say, they  
> are designed to be used on text consoles without a GUI.

Well, yeah, sure, but only because both editors were *created* before  
there were GUIs.  But GUI versions of Emacs, at least, have existed  
since the earliest days of the X Window System -- which, like Mac OS,  
dates back to 1984 -- and GUI-related issues have dominated Emacs  
development for at least the last ten years.  Vast effort went into  
Emacs support for international character sets, for example.  And,  
along more TeX-oriented lines, preview-latex (included in auctex)  
compiles the LaTeX math code in your document and inserts the  
graphical output directly into your buffer, giving you a LyX-like  
semi-WYSIWYG environment.  That requires very sophisticated GUI- 
related functionality.

> The difference as I see it is that you don't need to know much of  
> anything to USE vi.  Emacs has a huge lexicon of opaque and  
> dyslexic commands that one needs to know, notwithstanding the whole  
> issue of "what is a meta key" and "which key on this keyboard is  
> the meta key."

I *really* don't fall on one side or the other of this perennial  
debate -- I use both vim and Emacs very heavily and love them both.   
But your characterization of them is way off the mark.  Ordinary  
users first encountering vi or vim are utterly flummoxed by its dual- 
mode interface.  And vi[m]'s lexicon of opaque -- albeit admittedly  
modifier-free -- commands is at least as broad and deep as Emacs's.   
I'm not quite sure what it means to say Emacs commands are dyslexic,  
but I guess you are referring to its use of modifier keys and that  
you mean something negative.  Preferences noted.  Multitudes find  
Emacs keybindings friendly and familiar.  (It's not for no reason  
that a prominent subset of Emacs keybindings work inside all Mac OS X  
Cocoa text widgets.)

> Emacs has a HUGE and very steep learning Curve.  vi's is steep, but  
> not so large.  Also, a lot of what you learn in vi is directly  
> transferable to other cli tools.
> For example, in Robert's post
>   ma}'a,.s/^/%% /
> only the first six characters are vi-isms, the rest is a simple  
> regex pattern substitution, same as you would use with grep, or in  
> BBEdit.

Do you not know about Emacs regular expression searching/replacing?   
Every bit as powerful as vim.  (Though I do find reg exp searching/ 
replacing with vim quite a bit faster -- that is one place where  
command mode really shines.)

>> And with the development of vim, the
>> boundary between the two has blurred a little bit IMO, vim being less
>> barebones than vi.
> vim is simply a better vi (there's also nvi) with some features the  
> speak to the fact that it is 2006 and not 1976.  For example, vim  
> assumes you can use colors in your terminal, something unheard of  
> when I was using adm3s 20 years ago.  This is a good thing (I like  
> syntax coloring).
> But, aside from both being editors and both being text-based, they  
> have nothing in common and are as different from each other as,  
> say, BBEdit and Microsoft Office.

That's absolutely ridiculous.  Both are first and foremost high- 
powered programming editors with very similar feature sets (which I  
believe was the only point the original author was making).  They  
simply implement very different editing philosophies.

Chris Menzel

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