Replied to Eerste emacs gedachten by Frank Meeuwsen (

Zoals ik eerder deze week al schreef, ik probeer me weer te verdiepen in de wondere wereld van emacs. Ik vind het een interessant idee dat er software is die al zo lang bestaat, die ogenschijnlijk alles kan, van programmeren tot taakmanagement, email en nieuws lezen, en die zeer uitbreidbaar is. Ema…

In at the deep end!  Reading your posts has made me realise (remember?) how poor the emacs onboarding experience is.  I wish I’d blogged about it when I started up with it again – I can’t remember what I thought about it at the time.  The terminology certainly doesn’t help – a lot of it comes from before other terminology became common (copy/paste, window/tab, etc), and there seems to be some resistance to change emacs to match.

I think one very helpful thing to do would be to display the GUI menu – if you press SPC T m (space then  T then m) it will toggle the menu bar on and off.  That is a fault of Spacemacs – they disable it by default as they say they are keyboard-focused.  (I don’t know if spacemacs is the best beginning experience, I just went with it for the vim bindings!).  But with the menu bar you should be able to find easily many of the things you want to do, along with their keybindings for future reference.

The main config file is the .spacemacs hidden file in your home directory.  You can get to quickly from within Spacemacs by pressing SPC f e d.  If you set the value of dotspacemacs-startup-banner to nil, it will hide the big logo on the splash screen.  (You can press SPC f e R to reload it without restarting Spacemacs).  Also if you just click on [Release Notes] it will hide that.  There’s a list of Recent files and Projects below those two things.

The config file is written in Emacs Lisp.  I found this pretty confusing for a while!  But now, I also like that too, and am teaching myself Lisp.  Perhaps I have brainwashed myself 😀

It’s good to read your posts about your experience, Frank.  There’s no denying it, Emacs is not easy to start with, and it is good to document why.  For me it has been worth persevering. But I haven’t used Sublime Text, VSCode, Atom for any long period of time, however, so I can’t compare and contrast.

The emacs onboarding experience

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