Using Acme

A while ago I wrote about Russ Cox's Tour of the Acme Editor. Acme has a lot of great ideas. It is, in some sense, the opposite of Emacs. Where Emacs puts every conceivable functionality into the editor, Acme has minimal internal functionality but makes it easy to access external tools. In that, it is the incarnation of the Unix way.

For an Emacs guy, however, there are some problems. The most important is that Acme is totally mouse-centric. There is no cursor addressing at all. Want to move down a line? Don't bother with the arrow keys let alone 【Ctrl+n】. You have to click on the line you want to go to. Like syntax highlighting? Sorry.

A lot of this, of course, is a matter of what you're used to. Editors are an intensely personal choice and most of us find it hard to change. With that in mind, it would be interesting to see how well an established Emacs user could adapt to Acme. Fortunately, Vince Foley has done the heavy lifting for us and written a review of Acme from an Emacs user's point of view. If you're like me, you'll find his conclusions interesting. I didn't agree with everything he said—Acme's color scheme, for example, is just fine with me (being close to my Emacs scheme)—but overall I found myself nodding in agreement.

Foley says he doesn't think Acme will replace Emacs for him and I don't think it would for me either. I really like how Emacs recapitulates the Lisp Machine milieu and can't imagine giving it up. Still, I'd be interested in hearing about the experiences of any Emacs users who've tried Acme.

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