Learning the Right Tools

I was going to let this go

but it kept bothering me so here we are.

I don't understand this attitude and I find it insulting not only to those who have bothered to master their tools but also to younger engineers who are assumed to be too stupid or lazy to do the same.

If you want a best-in-class editor then you take the effort to learn Emacs, Vim, or perhaps one or two others. You don't declare that Notepad++ is good enough and you certainly don't, if you know what you're talking about, declare that Notepad++ won the Vim/Emacs holy war.

Today's younger engineers are not, in any real sense, kids. Nor are they special snowflakes that need to be protected from the disciplines of our profession. If you want to be more than today's equivalent of yesteryear's "Web specialists" that ran scripts to build rudimentary Web sites, then you better learn and master the basic tools. That means learning some language in addition to Javascript, moving beyond Eclipse, and getting comfortable with the command line.

Call me a dinosaur but if your idea of software engineering is pushing a button to generate great glops of code that you don't understand then your idea of our profession is very different from mine.

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  • Amen. While we know Emacs is indeed the superior choice, when I run across another vimer, I merely encourage them to continue to keep becoming more proficient in that editor. Holy war aside, it just makes sense from an efficiency perspective since we spend so much time editing text.

    • Pascal van Kooten

      Indeed, I use vim on command line for quick little edits, but I started with Emacs and it's great. I'd battle vim that emacs is superior, but at the end of the day, I'd take vim over other tools for sure.

  • We'd never think of telling a swordsman that he should neglect mastering the use of his sword, its balance, its range, its limits. Why some programmers persist in never really caring about their tools mystifies me.

  • I'm 21, not even an engineer nor have any IT-related job, and to take my class notes, I used in this order:

    Microsoft Word > Open Office > Libre Office > Google Docs > stackedit.io > Gedit > Geany > Atom.io > Vim > Emacs

    Each step have been an improvement, and if I got someone to show me, kid, Emacs or Vim at right after M$ word, I think I would have used either (or both with spacemacs) from the beinning.

    Thank you for these words!

  • Pascal van Kooten

    That original post was so damn annoying, I'm glad I could afterwards read this one.
    Years ago I started learning programming and Emacs Lisp at the same time. Certainly was difficult, but I'm very glad I did both.

  • Transistors and guitars are so similar in how they can both be used to create wonderful things that are so subjectively desirable. When our experiences makes us confident we lose that opportunity to be challenged, and we lose out on some fun. I love it when I get embarrassed, or I am presented with a viewpoint that I find totally and completely wrong because the opportunity to learn is so huge. I honestly believe that I've got nothing to learn there. When I am there, if I do learn, if I can learn... it will be very fun and astounding. It is totally worth it and also just fun to interact with new people.