On The Editor Wars by Daniel Jaouen


So I’ve been a vim user for about three years now. I am, for the most part, satisfied with my choice of editor. Vim may not have many bells and whistles, but it’s a perfect editor.

Recently, however, I discovered Spacemacs and thought I’d give Emacs a shot.

What Emacs Is Good At.

Emacs excels at non-editing tasks. What might those tasks be, you might ask? For example, Emacs has a directory editor (dired) that allows you to create directories from within Emacs. This was functionality I sorely missed in vim. I was always frustrated at the fact that I had to exit vim (or open a new terminal window) in order to create a directory. This is especially important with Elixir as the mix tool doesn’t create a directory structure for you.

Emacs also has its own shell (eshell), so you could technically create directories from there as well. Emacs even has a music player (EMMS), so you can spin up your favorite playlist and give that a go.

What Emacs Lacks.

Where Emacs is great at non-editing tasks, editing leaves something to be desired. Even with Evil mode activated, you’ll run into warts here and there as you edit your files. For example, Elixir-Mode has many different flaws. I decided to check out the code that handles indentation in Elixir and discovered that it’s a 900 line monstrosity. Not only is the indentation code 900 lines, it’s also confusing as heck. Just browsing through the file makes my head spin. This is not the way an editor should handle indentation.


I think, for now, I’m going to stick with my tried and trusted vim. Perhaps I might switch to Emacs again in the future once its warts have been smoothed over.