Could Emacs be rewritten in Python?

Francois Pinard pinard at
Sun Apr 6 21:43:55 CEST 2003

[Patrick K. O'Brien]

> If you were crazy enough to think that you could create a program along
> the lines of Emacs, but written in Python, how would you go about it?

Hello, Patrick, and all pythoneers. :-)

I once was crazy enough to at least ponder doing something like this,
being conscious of the huge amount of work such a project might represent.
I did starve for an Emacs environment scriptable in Python, but also was
aware of the massive amount of knowledge in the Emacs distribution and
project, and the rapid pace of Emacs development.  This would have been
fairly difficult to follow and cope with in the long run.  No doubt to me
that seriously tackling such a project could have swallowed me not only
whole, but for a good part of my life.  I still felt too young to die! :-)

Pymacs seemed to me like a much more acceptable compromise, as it could
be written relatively quickly, giving me a good part of all I wanted.
Oh, I'm surely not satisfied with the complexity of the mix, Emacs plus
Python just cannot be simpler than a pure Python solution would have been,
at least seen from a reasonable distance -- another planet, say? :-).
And moreover, there is a cost to the communication protocol between Emacs
and Python which is better not be abused if you want good response times.

> Sound like fun?

In a word, I would love to see a pure Python implementation of Emacs,
but have the prejudice that it requires an extra-ordinary involvement,
making that goal unreachable in practice for most mortal programmers...
So, even if Pymacs is far from ideal, for me, it has been a blessing.

All this being said, I sincerely wish that your project will succeed!

François Pinard

More information about the Python-list mailing list