Zamansky 45: Autocomplete and Company Mode

Mike Zamansky has a new video up in his Using Emacs Series. After
commenting on what a great time it is to be an Emacs user, Zamansky
considers Autocomplete and Company mode. These, of course, are
completion packages for Emacs. They’re both “intelligent” in the sense
that they use individualized backends to be language aware.

Until recently, Zamansky was an Autocomplete user. He mostly used it
with the Jedi package for Python completion. This semester, though,
he’s teaching a C++ course and decided to try out Company mode because
it uses Clang (through Irony mode) to provide syntax aware completion
for the C, C++, and Objective C languages.

He’s just started his experimentation so the video represents his
preliminary findings. For me, though, the video reinforced a
long-standing prejudice against either one. I use the “dumb”
completion built into Emacs that basically looks at what’s in your
buffer and what you’ve typed recently to choose completion targets.
You have to explicitly invoke the completion so it never gets in the
way. Autocomplete and Company mode, on the other hand, are always
popping up buffers offering suggestions. I find that annoying and
distracting. Perhaps it’s because of my horrible experience with
Word-like word processors
but whatever the cause I don’t want my
editor doing that. Some languages—I’m looking at you Java—can benefit
from auto-completion, I suppose, but I don’t use those languages so I
have no need to put up with its downsides.

Of course, not everyone is as curmudgeonly so it’s worth taking a look
at the video to see if one or the other works for you. The video is just
short of 18 and a half minutes so it should be easy to fit it in.

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