Moving from Vim to Emacs

Victor Antoniazzi · September 15, 2020

I was using Vim for about seven years. Did it on the terminal, did it with Neovim, inside VScode (which is pretty nice). I tried to build all my shortcuts vi-like: Switch browser tabs, terminal tabs, inside slack, etc. Two months ago, after reading a thread in the HackThursday Slack, I switched to Emacs. They said: Emacs will be your last editor. I give a shot

This post was written using Emacs in Org-mode.


A real challenge was about not having different Visual / Edit mode. Previously, the most used key was ESC and i, now it is CTRL. Doing this with a pleasant and ergonomic keyboard, like Ergodox, is a plus. Regular keyboards are a way difficult. But you will be used to it.

How do I start?

You will not find so much research on “How do I start using emacs?”. Instead of it, use the Emacs Tutorial, do it more than once or twice. Use it by default in the App, but configure your git to open with -nw (no-window) to build useful commit messages.

Install some useful plugins, learn with them, and build your own dotfiles, if you did not yet. Change the theme; if you don’t like the default ones, do some research.

Lisp configuration

If you are not familiar with Lisp, you will be. The editor’s best part is that it is fully configurable. You will learn and enjoy Lisp.

Pro-tip: Become a Pro.

Remove the clickable parts of the editor, disable most of the visual mode. The icons are from the ’80s, as the editor, but it is better if you like to do it like a Pro, without fancy parts, using the shortcuts. Many contents from useful emacs packages you find online do not have fancy CSS docs, but the content is there. Org-mode official documentation is an example of that. It is up-to-date, so you can use and rely on this.

Emacs will be your last editor

Today we have a lot of different editors, like VScode, Atom, Sublime. They are excellent, but probably Emacs will be my last editor. I will keep it simple: Emacs shortcuts on Emacs, Browser shortcuts on Browser, and I will not spend so many hours trying to make my dotfiles fancy. I will go with the minimal.

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