Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




emacs books

What's the best book on emacs? I'm looking for a book with a good tutorial for beginners coming to emacs from the Windows world, but which is sufficiently complete to include information on customising emacs and using ELisp. Thanks in advance.

C Rose
Sunday, April 18, 2004

read the tutorial...

Get a tutorial    C-h t

Tom Vu
Sunday, April 18, 2004

I liked the OReilley book. The online (old sense of online) tutorial I did not enjoy.

Dennis Atkins
Sunday, April 18, 2004

Printed manual is sold on Amazon. For a beginner's intro, check out this one:
http://freebooks.by.ru/view/EmacsIn24h/

Egor
Sunday, April 18, 2004

I have tried the tutorial -- and tried to learn emacs -- several times in the past. The problem with the tutorial, for someone like myself who has been using non-UNIX computers for well over a decade, is that I am used to things being a certain way. Although I see the logic in using alpha keys to navigate the text, I think it's silly when there is a pad of arrow keys on the keyboard. In addition, the tutorial is quite patronising, and seems to have been written sometime in the '70s, when nobody had seen computers.

I'm actually getting somewhere this time, and starting to like emacs. I've got things set (reasonably) sensibly for someone who has used Windows for too long. But I'm trying to take advantage of the situation before I resort to my current favourite editor.

Dennis: Which O'Reilly book -- "GNU Emacs Pocket Reference" or "Learning GNU Emacs, 2nd Edition"?

C Rose
Sunday, April 18, 2004

C,

Learning. I think I have the 1st ed; sure the 2nd must be even better. I had basic emacs familiarity through using MicroEmacs in the old Minix Unix-like OS. The book got me up to speed with a lot of useful techniques like windows and running shells and doing debugging at a time when I was doing a lot of paid development via a dialup terminal connection at 2400 baud. Emacs saves the day in those sorts of cases.

Denins Atkins
Sunday, April 18, 2004

"... debugging at a time when I was doing a lot of paid development via a dialup terminal connection at 2400 baud."

Ouch.

C Rose
Sunday, April 18, 2004

C, arrow keys are bound to cursor movement commands in any modern Emacs by default. Also bear in mind that Emacs key binding are designed for the fluent typist. They often seem ridiculous until you realize that you need to move your hands a lot less than you would with, say, CUA key bindings.

Egor
Sunday, April 18, 2004

The best Emacs-lisp tutorial I've found is in Peter Salus's handbooks.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1578700116/qid=1082298675/sr=1-6/ref=sr_1_6/104-2063120-5580729?v=glance&s=books

The default shortcut keys are from a different culture, so you might want some package that does Windows "keybindings".  Or print out an emacs cheat sheet.  Here's one of many:
http://www.aduni.org/courses/unix/courseware/handouts/Essential_Emacs.html

The old emacs paper defined terms like "hook."  Nice to flip through if something assumes terminology.
http://www.gnu.org/software/emacs/emacs-paper.html

Tayssir John Gabbour
Sunday, April 18, 2004

Thanks to everyone for your suggestions.

What does CUA stand for? I've been trying Google, but without much luck.

C Rose
Sunday, April 18, 2004

CUA
abbreviation for common user access

Standard designed by Microsoft to ensure that identical actions, such as saving a file or accessing help, can be carried out using the same keystrokes in any piece of software. For example, in programs written to the CUA standard, help is always summoned by pressing the F1 function key. New programs should be easier to use because users will not have to learn new commands to perform standard tasks.

ICBW
Monday, April 19, 2004

If I wanted to be pedantic, I could mention that the CUA was actually designed by IBM.

I have the 400 page book somewhere... 12 years on, it is still highly relevant.

Rhys Keepence
Monday, April 19, 2004

I bought the O'Reilly book and I don't really like it. But let give an example which just might show I did not understand the book (most of which you can get from the manual). I want to override a mode. When I open a file that is recognized as a type with a mode then emacs will load the mode for that ... but I don't like some aspects of the mode and I want to change just some aspects. It seems like I could do this with "hooks" but I tried and it did not work. Most of what I found I discovered searching the net. The book was little to no help about this. I'd like to know exactly what emacs did when I start it up ... reads my .emacs first or loads the system resource file first and then my .emacs overrides and how then to modify the impact of the modes. I did not get any of this from the book.  Actually, there is a lot of things I don't like about the book but I can't pinpoint anything.  I find most of my stuff from just searching the web. There are vast resources online.

Me
Monday, April 19, 2004

Get your answers straight from the source:

http://www.gnu.org/doc/emacs15.html
http://www.gnu.org/doc/intro-elisp-2.5.html

Emacs is the OS
Tuesday, April 20, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home