Peter Lyons

Exploring Editors

August 30, 2021

Content warning: programmer discussing text editors.

I have been down a path spurred primarily by 2 events:

So I sampled some workflowy alternatives including roam research, nvalt, a vim org-mode plugin, emacs org mode, and spacemacs org mode.

I eventually concluded emacs org mode was a suitable replacement for workflowy and fully converted my entire data set. I learned just enough spacemacs/emacs to use org mode with moderate efficiency, but it became clear to me that my go-to editor would still be neovim. I did use a vim org-mode plugin for a few weeks, but its feature set was incredibly paltry and there was no active development, so I went for the real thing.

My distaste for emacs stems I think primarily from:

So I doubled down a bit on neovim. I did find spacemacs overall a breath of fresh air and am now also test driving spacevim, but it's docs are also a bit of a struggle for me to use.

I'm also watching neorg as an update on the org mode file format with a real grammar that programs other than emacs can reasonably read and manipulate. Doesn't quite look ready to try yet but hopefully soon.

In my editor experimentation I was aware of kakoune and thought about taking it for a spin but...

That led me to my signature line of "found a new version in rust" in helix. It seems very nascent still but I'm curious to play around with the multicursor model and am very encourage by on-screen keybinding menus. God bless modern TUI apps that put the stupid keybinds on the damn screen, and hats off to old school ones like the PINE email client and nano text editor that have had on-screen keybinding menus since the beginning.

So I think I'll keep an eye on helix development and occasionally fire it up to check on progress. I'll try spacevim a little but if I can't grok how to properly customize it for thinks like a plugin to manage quotes/parens, I'll likely abandon it for basic neovim.