Text editors wars

While reading about RMS leaving Emacs administration, I found some comments which came to my attention - specially the ones which talked about him using vi for text editing.

One thing I've never understood, and which I still find everywhere, was this 'emacs x vi' cold war, in which there is a lot of regilious arguments for defending or atacking each text editor. And the battle automatically exclude any other text editor, using readly made phrases like "your text editor cannot erase interlaced lines!" or "you cannot debug your programs using this!", confusing people into thinking that a text editor should really have this features.

In my little experience of almost 10 years using GNU/Linux, I've tried different text editors from console and X environments: vim, jed, joe, emacs, pico, nano, mcedit, gedit, kwrite, kate, notepad, and others. In all these cases, vim and emacs didn't even came closer to the best ones I've used: emacs was complicated even in the basic read/edit/save file loop, and vi needed too much keystrokes (which became even worse on a dvorak keyboard). Even trying hard, I never really found what was so special in these programs.

Perhaps their merit is not so much technical, but really archeological: these programs have a strong history in UNIX-like systems development, and many people have learned these systems through them, mixing the user's concept of the system with the presence of these applications. Maybe 30 years from now they'll be like COBOL: something nobody wants to use anymore, and just waiting to be left behind.

And that's it.


At 26/2/08 21:41, Blogger Fernando S. Trevisan said...

Something that always kept me out of the "open source realm" was these religious kinds all around, with arrogance and self-convincing arguments.

The more technical/difficult something is, more "religious kinds" will be attached to it. It's a shame that a lot of programmers go after this guys and follow them making the "religion" somewhat relevant. :(

The best for you/your company is the best. Finish. :)


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