Peter Milliken peterm at
Thu Jul 15 00:22:54 CEST 2004

Let's not do the war thing :-) But perhaps an exchange of information?

Me, I use Emacs - have done so for 20 years now with never a regret. When I
see a feature that I like (enough) in another editor I implement it in Emacs
(if it doesn't already have it - something that is getting harder and harder
to do these days :-)). I understand completely that many do not like Emacs
because of the "magic incantations" required to run commands i.e. sets of
key sequences - but I don't like using mice and menus - takes longer than
keyboard access (right hand off the keyboard onto the mouse, then back
again) and how else can you provide efficient access to such a wealth of
commands? :-) But I shouldn't digress into look and feel - many an argument
could be had with a Vi user over that! :-)

So what are the interesting "features" (as opposed to "I just like the look
and feel of editor X" - I don't desire a discussion on "warm, fuzzy
feelings" about your favourite editor - we all know how "religious" these
things can be :-)) in any of the editors that people have settled upon for
their personal use? For example the following comment is made in another
(later) thread:

"augment Leo's mind blowing qualities" - which means what? :-) Other than
the fact the writer likes Leo? :-)

I'll (attempt) to kick the discussion off with the features of Emacs that I
like and use in everyday programming of Python (not necessarily in order of
importance :-)):

1. available for any OS/platform that I have worked on over the last 20
years and the forseeable future - the one time I couldn't get a native
binary was for VMS and the company didn't want the expense of installing NFS
so then I used the (transparent) ftp access built into Emacs to edit files
on the VMS file system all from a PC running Windoze (ange-ftp allows
editting of files that are accessed using standard ftp operations but are
hooked into the standard Emacs read/write file commands - so the user is
"unaware" of the file access mechanism).

2. the (obvious) generic IDE capability i.e. compile and debugging from
within the editor

3. code completion - a la LSE from the VMS editor of that name (see the
reference to ELSE on -
note this is not "syntax completion", although I have written some code that
allows scanning of Python modules and then generation of code templates for
ELSE that generate call templates with the named parameters filled in and
code templates for where the coder must supply the arguments. But I guess I
am not big on "syntax completion" - I haven't really used to the code since
I wrote it, although I do use ELSE itself extensively in writing my Python
code :-)

4. User extendable using either Lisp or Python ( :-) ) - (see the reference
to Pymacs on
"Extendability" of the editor to create new commands/functionality as
opposed to "macro" capability.

5. Integration with Ispell/Aspell i.e. Emacs is intelligent enough to spell
check only the comments and strings - which can be extremely handy when
writing code! Nothing more embarrassing  than a poorly spelt message to a
user! :-)

6. Unix "screen" like capability i.e. having multiple "virtual" instances of
the editor (each with its own window/buffer view) available via simple key
switching - but not "cluttering" the Windoze landscape with multiple
instances (although you can configure Emacs to work that way too :-)).

7. Given sufficient physical screen real-estate, you can "split" the editor
display into multiple "windows" - both horizontally and vertically - the
number of "splits" limited only by the physical display. My "faviourite"
configuration is two vertical, 80 column windows side-by-side - one or both
then generally get split horizontally as I look at other files or positions
within the same file.

8. "Free" - in this day of powerful editors that are available for zero
cost, why purchase one? Either shareware or commercial?

9. syntax highlighting (almost not worth mentioning since it is so common?)

These are just some of the reasons I use Emacs. What features of *your*
editor attracted you? How does it help you with writing Python code (the
intent after all of this news group :-)). Does your editor have a feature
that I have not listed above and yet you consider it *essential* (or at
least very handy :-)) in your generation of Python code?

So whilst I know that Thomas does not "want Emacs or Vi", I believe my
response is in the spirit of the original email :-)


"Thomas Lindgaard" <thomas at> wrote in message
news:pan.2004. at
> Hello
> I am probably going to start a war now... but so be it :)
> I just want to hear what all you guys who eat pythons for breakfast use
> for python coding. Currently I use Kate, but I would really like an IDE
> with debugger and a source browser (ie. one the I can use to browse
> through modules etc. when looking for just the right curses stuff and such
> - I am a newcomer to Python).
> ... and no, Emacs or Vi are not what I want :)
> -- 
> Mvh.
> /Thomas

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