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Re: Beginning Hobbyist Programmer Question

From: Daniel Pittman
Subject: Re: Beginning Hobbyist Programmer Question
Date: Fri, 18 Jan 2008 22:11:12 +1100
User-agent: Gnus/5.110006 (No Gnus v0.6) Emacs/23.0.60 (gnu/linux) writes:

> Ok, I'm beginning to teach myself the art of computer programming. I'm
> starting with Python and I've built a few scripts that have increased
> my productivity tremendously at work, doing a lot of data crunching,
> etc.
> As I get more and more into programming, I get the sense that "real"
> programmers use emacs or vi, or some other editor that from my
> perspective, seems arcane and impenetrable compared to something
> simple like IDLE that comes with Python, or Scite, for example.

No, they don't.  A small proportion of them are very vocal about their
preferences, and only those two editors tend to excite enough noise and
support that you notice them.

Eclipse and Visual Studio are extremely popular systems for working with
Linux code[1], as are kate, the GNOME text editor, and a bunch of

> Can anyone provide a cogent explanation for why I should take the time
> to climb that learning curve? 

VI?  Because it runs on every Unix in existence, and knowing a visual
editor that you can use in more or less the same way on any random Unix
system is a great skill to have.

Vim?  Because you want to run Emacs, but you like an editor with a mode
that goes beep and a mode that doesn't. ;)

(More seriously: Vim, because you want all the extra bells and whistles
 integrated into Vi rather than having to shift over to a shell to get
 at them.)

Emacs?  Because you want an IDE that is absolutely, totally custom to
your needs.  (or a mail reader that is, or ...)

> What are the benefits, as you see them?

For you?  None.  Learn to program with whatever tools you like.

Learn enough of Vi to edit files, even if slowly, because that is a
valuable skill -- but a completely different one from programming.

> Also, assuming I'm convinced, can you point me in the direction of a
> good tutorial?

For Vim, which is the stock Vi on many Linux distributions, try :help.

For Emacs you can start it up and hit C-h t (control and h, then t) to
get to the tutorial.  (or just read the front page.)


[1]  Yes, /that/ Visual Studio, on that other platform.  I never
     understood why, but a whole bunch of people I know use it...

Daniel Pittman <>           Phone: 03 9428 6922
1/130-132 Stawell St, Richmond              Web:
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