Xah Lee on Long Term Emacs Productivity

Xah Lee has a nice post on obtaining Long Term Emacs Productivity. It’s 7 tips to help you be more productive with Emacs. Doubtless anyone who is not a complete n00b will disagree with some of his suggestions. I disagree with some of them. The thing is, we probably disagree on different things so the post is a useful thought provoker even if you ultimately dismiss some of its suggestions.

For example, Lee is very interested in ergonomics and has extensively investigated the (for him) optimal key bindings. I, on the other hand, generally avoid remapping keys to existing commands. That probably started when I was a n00b and, not understanding how Emacs eventually becomes an editor customized for each user, avoided remapping commands so that the experience would be the same no matter whose Emacs I was using. Several years on I no longer suffer under that delusion and—even though I still don’t remap existing command’s key sequences—I would find it painful if not impossible to use someone else’s Emacs productively.

Lee likes and recommends ido-mode while I vastly prefer the ivy, swiper, counsel package. Again, this is simply a matter of preference; there is no “correct” answer. I was an ido user before I switched to ivy and liked it a lot but for me the ivy package is probably my biggest productivity booster.

Those are my two quibbles with Lee’s tips. Yours will probably differ. Regardless, the post is worth reading for the ideas it presents. My only addition would be the idea of navigation by searching. That starts with Steve Yegge’s suggestion to use incremental search for navigation but also includes using the excellent avy library (the successor to ace-jump) for finer grained and quicker navigation.

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  • thanks for mention!

    yes, i agree with using isearch to navigate.

    and i think ivy swiper etc, abo abo's packages, are one of the best packages. They are simple and to the point. Better than helm, for example. I hope it'll be bundled with emacs.

    by the way, around july or so, you had a blog about installing full dictionary locally to emacs. I meant to do that, but sometimes i tried in i think September, i find that, the article is missing from the index of your blog archive. I meant to tell you. Also, i haven't gotton to install it yet.

    • jcs

      by the way, around july or so, you had a blog about installing full dictionary locally to emacs.

      You probably mean this post. The post was specifically about installing the old Webster dictionary but the same procedure works for any dictionary in StarDict format.

      • yes, that's the one.

        Webster and Emacs
        Posted on September 4, 2017 by jcs

        but it's not listed in your sept archive index at

        • jcs

          It's there for me. Did you page back to the older (September) posts? It's on page 3. I usually post everyday so each month in the index takes up several pages.

          • oh man, something needs to be done about that!

            i didn't see the “← older posts” till now. I think that wording and arrow is very confusing. I think best is to list the whole month in one page.

          • jcs

            I'd like that better too but it's all under control of the theme (I guess). I have nothing to do with it. Actually, I never use the index; I just search for what I want. Probably because I wouldn't remember what month any particular post was from.

  • Xah's tips are so subtle as to be easily ignored but demand thoughtful study. For example the notes about the home row:

    Replacing all of the default home-row bindings. The bindings of Control, Meta, and Control-Meta along with the single home row keys [asdfghjkl;'] are the single most valuable key-spaces for bindings because they are easily accessed.

    These approaches require a certain comfort level with Emacs, though.