Emacs Lisp Development Tools

I just stumbled across a video of John Wiegley’s talk at the 2013 Emacs Lisp Development Conference on Elisp development tools. Wiegley covers some of the tools he uses in his own development. Many of those tools will be familiar to most Emacs developers but some were new to me. Three that I especially want to take a look at are redshank, elisp-slime-nav, and workgroups.

The talk is really interesting and helpful but sadly the production values of the video are terrible. Much of the time the screen shots are out of focus or someone is walking between the camera and display. Even so, it’s worth spending the hour watching it. Wiegley, of course, is a master Elisp developer and listening to what he has to say on the matter can help you develop your own skills.

The other interesting thing is how far we’ve come since 2013. Abo-abo’s swiper/ivy/counsel was not yet available, and Wiegley’s use-package was just beginning and not nearly as powerful as it is now. That was only four and a half years ago yet I would be missing half the tools I use every day if we were suddenly teleported back to the time of the conference.

The video is just over an hour so you’ll have to schedule some time but, as I say, it’s very worthwhile.

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  • VanLaser

    `redshank` is also mentioned in another of Wiegley's talks (from ~ 24:25 or so): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRBcm6jFJ3Q

    • jcs

      Yeah, I rewatched it after seeing the conference talk. I've heard about redshank for a long time but I never had a good idea what it did until I saw the video from the conference.

  • Noam Postavsky

    I think elisp-slime-nav is superseded in Emacs 26 by the builtin xref-find-definitions (bound to M-. by default).

    • jcs

      Good to know. I'm still on 25.2 and probably won't upgrade until the official release. Almost my entire workflow is Emacs-centric and I don't want things to break.

      I installed elisp-slime-nav and it really is great. It's almost like magic how it finds the right function.

  • These two are nice if you are writing macros:

    Symbol visualization highlight-quoted and Quasi-Quote visualization
    highlight-stages.