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CNET Builder.com: GNU Emacs 20 [Review]

Mar 17, 2001, 16:00 (7 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Julie Meloni)

"Emacs falls somewhere between a text editor and a development environment all its own. You can use Emacs to access e-mail and newsgroups, execute shell commands, and do version control on code. Add-ons give you access to a Web browser, PGP encryption, and other nifty miniapplications. If you spend enough time learning the ins and outs of Emacs and install enough add-on components, you might never need to run another desktop application --unless you want to view or edit non-ASCII files. If you have the time and energy to devote to learning the application, and you work mainly with raw text, then you'll love Emacs. But if you're looking for an intuitive, all-in-one development environment with file import and export abilities beyond unformatted ASCII files, search elsewhere."

"While there is a menu system in Emacs, it doesn't conform to the order that users normally see (File, Edit, View, and so on). Instead, the initial menu reads: Buffers, Files, Tools, Edit, Search, Mule, and Help. This can intimidate the average user who just wants to select File · New and get started. With a little time, research, and extra thought, the normal user can figure out that buffers are really just the current open files, and you can just open a file and be done with it."

"Once the new user gets past the menu system, he or she will realize that the only good way to get around Emacs is to memorize a few hundred key commands. For example, Ctrl-X Ctrl-F will prompt you to find a file to open, Ctrl-X Ctrl-S will save a file, and Ctrl-X Ctrl-C will exit Emacs. A printed copy of the Key Bindings help file (Ctrl-H B) or a copy of O'Reilly's GNU Emacs Pocket Reference is imperative unless you have a really good memory for key commands."

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