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Encyclopedia > Editor war

Editor war is the common name for the rivalry between users of the vi and Emacs text editors. The rivalry has become a lasting part of hacker culture and the free software community. vi editing a temporary, empty file. ... This article is about the text editor. ... Notepad is the standard text editor for Microsoft Windows A text editor is a piece of computer software for editing plain text. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... // The free software community is also called the open source community or the Linux community. ...

Few pieces of software are more universal than text editors. Many flame wars have been fought between groups insisting that their editor of choice is the paragon of editing perfection, and insulting the others. Most participants in these arguments recognize that it is (largely) tongue-in-cheek. There are related wars over operating systems and programming languages, and even source code indent style. Flaming is the hostile and insulting interaction between Internet users. ... Paragon may refer to: a definition: A peerless example of something Paragon (unit), a unit of mass equal to 20 grams, used to measure diamonds a place: Paragon, Indiana, a town in the United States Paragon (shopping mall), a shopping mall on Orchard Road in Singapore Paragon City, a fictional... Sarcasm is the making of remarks intended to mock the person referred to (who is normally the person addressed), a situation or thing. ... It has been suggested that Apple evangelist be merged into this article or section. ... A programming language is an artificial language that can be used to control the behavior of a machine, particularly a computer. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...

Editor wars are usually fought between the devotees of vi (and by proxy vim) and those favoring Emacs, the two most popular editors on Unix-like systems. Many users are familiar with both, at least enough to do basic text editing, and so feel they are well-placed to make judgment calls as to which is "better." Adding to this is the fact that because both editors are extensive and extremely powerful tools, they have a relatively difficult learning curve, which means users have invested a lot of time in getting to know the editor they use. vi editing a temporary, empty file. ... This article is about the text editor. ... Diagram of the relationships between several Unix-like systems A Unix-like operating system is one that behaves in a manner similar to a Unix system, while not necessarily conforming to or being certified to any version of the Single UNIX Specification. ... The learning curve refers to a relationship between the duration of learning or experience and the resulting progress. ...


Differences between vi and Emacs

The most important differences between vi and Emacs are:

  • vi editing retains, or keeps, each permutation of typed keys. This creates a path in the decision tree which unambiguously identifies any command.
  • Emacs does the same thing. Its commands are a combination of typed keys executed immediately, which leaves the user with the choice of whether or not to use a command.
  • vi is smaller and faster, and (traditionally at least) has limited customization capability.
  • Emacs takes longer to start up and requires more memory. However, it is highly customizable and includes a large number of bells and whistles, as it is essentially a Lisp programming language execution environment which runs a Lisp program designed for text-editing.
  • vi was traditionally used inside of a text-mode console, having no graphical user interface (GUI) (although vim has one).
  • Whereas Emacs, while initially designed for use on a console, grew a GUI fairly early on. Modern versions of both provide various GUIs.

Historical remark: Permutation is the rearrangement of objects or symbols into distinguishable sequences. ... Keyboard redirects here. ... Look up path in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... In operations research, specifically in decision analysis, a decision tree is a decision support tool that uses a graph or model of decisions and their possible consequences, including chance event outcomes, resource costs, and utility. ... Command has multiple meanings: An order. ... For other uses, see Combination (disambiguation). ... RAM redirects here. ... Lisp is a family of computer programming languages with a long history and a distinctive fully-parenthesized syntax. ... GUI redirects here. ... Look up vim in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

  • The difference in feature set and startup time tends to influence the way that the editors are used: vi users tend to enter and exit the editor repeatedly, and use the Unix shell for complex tasks, whereas Emacs users usually remain within the editor and use Emacs itself for complex tasks. Both editors are now able to issue commands from the shell.

In computing, a shell is a piece of software that provides an interface for users (command line interpreter). ...

Claimed benefits of vi-like editors

  • "Composition of simple tools" philosophy
  • Small in size (not subject to creeping featurism; Unix philosophy ("do one thing, and do it well"))
  • Faster than Emacs
  • Runs in all systems able to implement standard C library (DOS,Windows,Mac,BeOS,POSIX compliant)
  • Simplified movement on text (beginning|end of lines|word|paragraphs ...)
  • Composed commands with count, area (6dd delete 6 lines, xp delete character and paste after ~ swap 2 characters, c$ change to end-of-line)
  • Fingers on home row (though few commands use modifier keys such as Ctrl or Alt; possibly reduces repetitive strain injury in the wrists)

This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... The Unix philosophy is a set of cultural norms and philosophical approaches to developing software based on the experience of leading developers of the Unix operating system. ... C is a general-purpose, block structured, procedural, imperative computer programming language developed in 1972 by Dennis Ritchie at the Bell Telephone Laboratories for use with the Unix operating system. ... This article is about the family of closely related operating systems for the IBM PC compatible platform. ... 1. ... // Look up Mac, mac in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... BeOS is an operating system for personal computers which began development by Be Inc. ... POSIX or Portable Operating System Interface[1] is the collective name of a family of related standards specified by the IEEE to define the application programming interface (API) for software compatible with variants of the Unix operating system. ... Home row is a term that refers to certain keys of the center row of alphabetical letters on a typewriter or computer keyboard. ... In computing, a modifier key is a special key on a computer keyboard that modifies the normal action of another key when the two are pressed in combination. ... A repetitive strain injury (RSI), also called cumulative trauma disorder (CTD), occupational overuse syndrome, or work related upper limb disorder (WRULD), is any of a loose group of conditions resulting from overuse of a tool, eg. ...

Claimed benefits of Emacs

Historical remark: A chord is a geometric figure. ... Image:ASCII fullsvg There are 95 printable ASCII characters, numbered 32 to 126. ... “LISP” redirects here. ... Emacs Lisp is a dialect of the Lisp programming language used by the GNU Emacs and XEmacs text editors (which we will collectively refer to as Emacs in this article. ... Computer programming (often simply programming) is the craft of implementing one or more interrelated abstract algorithms using a particular programming language to produce a concrete computer program. ... There is more than one usage of the word markup. ... This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... This article is about the Unix shell. ... C is a general-purpose, block structured, procedural, imperative computer programming language developed in 1972 by Dennis Ritchie at the Bell Telephone Laboratories for use with the Unix operating system. ... This article is about the Java island. ... For the programming language, see Lisp (programming language). ... This article is about the typesetting system. ... Wikipedia (IPA: , or ( ) is a multilingual, web-based, free content encyclopedia project, operated by the Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit organization. ... This article is about emulation in computer science. ... The Maya calendar is a system of distinct calendars and almanacs used by the Maya civilization of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, and by some modern Maya communities in highland Guatemala. ... The Discordian calendar is an alternative calendar used by some adherents of Discordianism. ... GNU (pronounced ) is a computer operating system composed entirely of free software. ...

  • Early on, Emacs included a helpful screen explaining how to exit that was presented when the program started. At the time, vi did not provide such a hint, forcing many users who could not figure out how to exit to simply disconnect their terminals.


Frequently, at some point in the discussion, someone will point out that ed is the standard text editor. The text editor ed was the original standard on the Unix operating system. ...

A 1984 interview with vi creator Bill Joy revealed that he himself used ed, which led Emacs proponents to the saying, "even Bill Joy doesn't use vi anymore."[1]

The Church of Emacs, formed by Richard Stallman, is a joke, and while it refers to vi as the "editor of the beast" (vi-vi-vi being 6-6-6 in Roman numerals) , it does not oppose the use of vi; rather, it calls proprietary software an anathema. ("Using a free-software version of vi is not a sin; it is a penance."[2]) It has its own newsgroup, alt.religion.emacs, that has posts purporting to support this parody religion. Richard Matthew Stallman (born March 16, 1953), often abbreviated rms,[2] is an American software freedom activist, hacker,[3] and software developer. ... vi editing a temporary, empty file. ... // 666 is the natural number following 665 and preceding 667. ... vi editing a temporary, empty file. ... Proprietary software is software with restrictions on copying and modifying as enforced by the proprietor. ... Anathema (in Greek Ανάθεμα) meaning originally something lifted up as an offering to the gods; later, with evolving meanings, it came to mean: to be formally set apart, banished, exiled, excommunicated or denounced, sometimes accursed. ... Free software is software that can be used, studied, and modified without restriction, and which can be copied and redistributed in modified or unmodified form either without restriction, or with minimal restrictions only to ensure that further recipients can also do these things. ... A newsgroup is a repository usually within the Usenet system, for messages posted from many users at different locations. ...

Here is a typical post:

 Truly, our responsibility to spread the Gospel of the Gnu is weighty. Cleave to what is good. Remember the words the prophet Stallman brought down from the Mount MIT, graved in Lisp on tablets of crystalline lambda calculus. Only this true: Emacs is pure. All else is false. Do not be misled by false gods like Vi, the Editor of the Beast. Do not be seduced by Word, the Scarlet Woman of Babylon. Do not be driven to madness by Xcode, the Blind Priest of the Children of Asherath. When the wild winds of chaos blow, stay pure. When the universe collapses in shards around you, stay holy. When the gibbering hobgoblins of apostate Editors attack with shards of broken syntax, seek the crystalline stillness within you. Brethren, ensure that you (Meta-x-say-hallel-to-Emacs) daily for otherwise you will be lost. When the Beast comes, only Emacs can save you. This was brought to you as a public service by the Holy and Ineffable Church of The Mighty Emacs. SUPPORT THIS CRUSADE WITH YOUR DONATIONS. EMAIL THE STILL BEATING HEART OF A VILE VI USER TO emacs-highpriest@god-hates-vi-users 

Stallman has jokingly declared himself to be St IGNU−cius, a saint in the Church of Emacs.[3] GNU (pronounced ) is a computer operating system composed entirely of free software. ...

vi supporters have created an opposing Cult of vi, argued by the more hardline Emacs users to be an attempt to "ape their betters".

Regarding vi's modal nature, some Emacs users joke that vi has two modes – "beep repeatedly" and "break everything". vi users enjoy joking that Emacs's key-sequences induce carpal tunnel syndrome, or mentioning one of many satirical expansions of the acronym EMACS, such as "Escape Meta Alt Control Shift" (a jab at Emacs's reliance on modifier keys).[4] Others have posited that this acronym in fact means "Eight Megabytes And Constantly Swapping" (in a time when that was a great amount of memory) or "EMACS Makes Any Computer Slow" (a recursive acronym like those Stallman uses), in reference to Emacs's high system resource requirements. The more modern humorist uses "Eventually Mallocs All Core Storage" as his or her future-proof witticism. Those who have a particular beef with the GNU flavor of EMACS (perhaps an XEmacs fan) may propose "Generally Not Used, Except by Middle-Aged Computer Scientists" as the proper expansion. This article is about the medical condition. ... XEmacs, a fork of the GNU Emacs text editor, runs on almost any Unix-like operating system — inside X or in a text terminal — as well as on Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. Any user can download XEmacs as free software available under the GNU General Public License. ...

As a poke at Emacs’ creeping featurism, vi advocates will describe Emacs as “a great operating system, lacking only a decent editor”.

There is some additional humor that pokes fun at vi at http://www.dina.kvl.dk/~abraham/religion/vi-tutorial.html, as well as Lisp (associated with Emacs) at the xkcd comic here, here, and here.

Current state of the editor war

In the past, many small editors modeled after or derived from Emacs flourished. This was due to the importance of conserving memory with the comparatively minuscule amount available at the time. These days, with a plenitude of memory, many vi-alikes, Vim in particular, have grown in size and code complexity. These vi variants of today, as with the old light Emacs variants, tend to have many of the perceived benefits and drawbacks of the opposing side. Namely, recent versions of Vim can have more extensions and run slower than past versions of Emacs. Vim, which stands for Vi IMproved, is an open source, multiplatform text editor extended from vi. ...

O'Reilly, a company which sells Vim and Emacs tutorials say the Vim one sells twice as many as Emacs. In a paint balling event, about twice as many people signed up for Vim than Emacs.[5] This has been taken by some to suggest that around twice as many individuals prefer Vim over Emacs. However, it is noted that many advanced programmers use Emacs and its various offshoots, including Linus Torvalds who uses MicroEMACS.[6] Linus Benedict Torvalds   (born December 28, 1969 in Helsinki, Finland) is a Finnish software engineer best known for initiating the development of the Linux kernel. ... MicroEMACS is a small emacs implementation originally written by Dave Conroy and further developed and maintained by Daniel Lawrence, which exists in many variations. ...

In a Q&A session with nine top[weasel words] programmers, when asked what their favorite tools were, six of them mentioned Emacs.[7]

In addition to vi and emacs workalikes, pico and its free software clone nano and other editors often have their own third-party advocates in the editor wars, though not to the extent of vi and emacs. A screenshot of Pico. ... Nano is a text editor for Unix and Unix-like systems, licensed under the GNU General Public License. ...


  1. ^ http://web.cecs.pdx.edu/~kirkenda/joy84.html Interview with Bill Joy, Unix Review, August 1984.
  2. ^ All about Linux: The unabridged selective transcript of Richard M Stallman's talk at the ANU
  3. ^ Saint IGNUcius - Richard Stallman
  4. ^ satirical expansions of EMACS
  5. ^ Stifflog - Stiff asks, great programmers answer
  6. ^ Stifflog: Stiff asks, great programmers answer
  7. ^ Stifflog - Stiff asks, great programmers answer

The Art of Unix Programming is a book written by Eric Raymond about the history and culture of Unix programming from its earliest days to the current work on Linux. ...

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Vi - Uncyclopedia, the content-free encyclopedia (454 words)
Soon after the False Editor was disseminated across the Interweb, those faithful to vi assembled an army to vanquish the growing threat of the Emacs heretics.
Vim's release heralded the New Age of editors, and the use of Emacs was relegated to beginners, incompetents, and anal retentives, while all serious development continued on in Vim.
Though the Heretics' numbers are small, the Editor War continues, though it is not as gruesome as it once was due to the heathen Emacsites tacitly beginning to accept defeat at the hands of the Users of Vim.
Editor war - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (961 words)
In hacker culture, the editor war is an ongoing debate in the computer programming community about which text editor is best for their general purposes.
Many flame wars have been fought between groups insisting that their editor of choice is the paragon of editing perfection, and insulting the others.
Editor wars are usually fought between the devotees of Emacs and vi, the two most popular editors on Unix and Unix-like operating systems.
  More results at FactBites »



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