What is EMACS ? I only know that it is some kind of text-editor, but what makes them it popular? How it different from the default text editor in windows which is notepad ? I read about it on wikipedia but couldn't understand what it really was.
closed as not constructive by random♦ Mar 22 '12 at 1:50
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Emacs is an extensible system for editing text built on top of a powerful programming language. With a typical text editor you can only do what the author thought to include commands for. Emacs can be made to do pretty much anything you can think of. As an example: Long ago I wrote a program to read mail inside of Emacs. It supported MIME, IMAP, POP, SSL, message filtering, sorting, etc... anything you could find in other mail programs. That you could do something like this on top of a text editor illustrates the power of the system.
From the introduction to the GNU Emacs manual:
Emacs is a text editors with it's trump card being extensibility. Emacs stands for Editor MACroS
The most popular version of Emacs is GNU Emacs, GNU Emacs has over 2,000 built-in commands. It also allows the user to combine these commands into macros to automate work. It's Development began in the mid-1970s and is still active as of 2012.
The GNU Emacs manual describes it as “the extensible, customizable, self-documenting, real-time display editor.”
It's main features are
Emacs is a text editor with built-in functions to aid in quick modifications of text, including regular prose, programming code, html, and basically anything that can come out of your keyboard. It is also customizable and extensible with the right knowledge of Emacs Lisp, which is a dialect of the Lisp family of programming languages that's been optimized for this application. That means you can add new capabilities, or change existing ones, with the addition of a little code here and there.
The features that programmers, in particular, like in their text editors include (among others):
There are many other reasons, but those are some big ones.
These kinds of editors do have a bit of a learning curve: they are not immediately intuitive to use. You have to learn a lot of keyboard combinations, and they aren't necessarily like the ones you might be familiar with. Also, since Emacs first arrived before the advent of Windows and Mac, it uses odd terminology like "Meta" for the Alt key and "frames" for what most users call "windows", but you get used to that pretty quickly.
The first week or so of using it, you won't feel nearly as productive as you are using Notepad, but after that, you'll see a pickup of speed once you get certain common commands into your finger-memory. I think of it like riding a motorcycle instead of riding a bike; it's harder to learn, but in the end you'll go a lot further, and faster.
As a side-benefit, GNU Emacs, which you can download from http://www.gnu.org/software/emacs/, is available free of charge, so you won't be out any money by downloading it and giving it a try.
Emacs is an Operating System.
It takes 2 minutes to boot up, and it can be used to edit files, list directories, check email, browse the web, and play snake.
In all seriousness, though, it's following is due to a combination of UNIX/Linux's reliance on text-based configuration files and text-based databases, and the ability to extend EMACS to process data in very specific ways.