Over at the reddit Emacs subreddit Tribaal asks for advice on learning Emacs and, in particular, solicits “ahhhhh! moments” from Emacs veterans. The ensuing discussion is quite interesting and, at least at the time I read it, free of trolls and the usual silliness that such questions often engender.
One commenter remarked that his Ahhhhh! moment was when he realized that Emacs is really just a Lisp interpreter enhanced with text editing functionality. Another says that Vim is an editor while Emacs is a Lisp environment tailored to look like an editor. These are both views that we’ve discussed before but the idea comes close, I think, to capturing what it is about the Emacs experience that makes it so great.
I enjoyed the entire discussion and if you like to read about how people use and feel about Emacs you probably will too. If you’ve got your own Ahhhhh! moments leave a comment and share them with us. Mine is just what I wrote about above: Emacs is really a comprehensive Lisp environment—much like the Lisp machines of old—that has some features that make text editing particularly pleasant. Once I adopted that view point I found that it was often easier to solve some small Lisp-amenable problem in Emacs rather than crank up Slime and SBCL.