Emacs: the first encounter


I’ve always loved text files. When I started building my personal productivity system I stumbled upon many solutions and tried lots of them. The one thing that always worked for me, except for pen and paper was plain text. It was liberating to just write what you wanted and being able to access it on any device. It was the closest thing to paper you could work on, away from proprietary formats that desktop or web application used. Then I discovered the todo.txt format along with my first serious experiences with Linux. I worked like that for a couple of years, but soon I felt the need for something better. My life wasn’t just about tasks. There was more to think about, more to handle.

While I was looking for text editors which could apply custom syntax highlighting to plain text files, I discovered the Emacs text editor. It was old (it was actually started being developed in the 70s), the interface seemed outdated and I when I set it up for the first time, I couldn’t understand what was so special about it. It was just a blank screen with a menu bar and a toolbar! I thought it was just an old editor, so I uninstalled it and got over with my life.

Then about 5 years ago, still searching for the perfect text based solution, I’ve read somewhere about org-mode. It was an Emacs mode that had some features which interested me, or should I say I’ve always dreamed about them. I downloaded the manual to my mobile phone, started reading it and BANG! This piece of software was everything I was looking for and so much more.

Org-mode was the reason I got hooked into Emacs and learning both of them came to be an overall great experience for me. A bit hard at times, but so rewarding. I got new knowledge on a great open source piece of software which runs almost anywhere, its so fast and responsive that modern applications cannot even get close to this. And the customization! You can do anything you want, use add-ons for your specific needs or even build your own. I haven’t got the chance of learning the Emacs language (lisp) yet, but there is not need yet.