My Editor Journey


1991 - edit

I got my first PC late December 1991. On it was DOS 3 something. I later got an upgrade to DOS 5 and then 6. The editor on the last two at least, was edit.

1993-1999 - Notepad

Notepad on Windows 3.1, 3.11, 95, 98, NT 4.

I also used specialised editors for certain tasks, like Front Page, HoTMetaL Pro and HomeSite for HTML.

1999-2000 - UltraEdit

During my first year, year and a half in univeristy, I came to like UltraEdit quite a bit. In my first semester, we learned Visual Basic, so I used that, of course, but used UltraEdit for everything else.

I used UltraEdit more and more and quickly ditched JBuilder for it when we started learning Java in the second semester. I quickly decided I could do without fancy auto completion when I had a better editing experience.

1999 - Visual Studio

The first programming course we had in univeristy was Visual Basic 6. The IDE was great, with fast auto completion, great, context aware help system (just hit F1!) and instant gratification by running your GUI application when hitting F5. No matter how bad your code was, something came up when you hit that F5 key.

Good times.

2000 - Pico

In the very beginning of my Unix journey, I used pico.

2000 → current - Emacs

Emacs. I was intrigued by this mysterious editor when getting into my second semester as a computer science student at the Østfold Univeristy College in Halden. But we were not instant friends, Emacs and I. It was not very cooperative and only displayed black text on a white background (in Windows) or yellow-ish on green background on my RedHat Linux 6.1 dekstop.

But gurus like Thomas Malt and Audun Vaaler were using it, as was the dean Jan Høiberg, so I supposed it had more in store and I shouldn't judge it by its covers.

So, I spent ages getting JDE (later renamed JDEE) to work. I had to configure Emacs even to get colours, and getting true Java auto completion was quite an undertaking for a newbie. I was stubborn enough, though and eventually got Emacs to be a decent Java development environment. From that day, I've never been able to leave Emacs (like the Hotel California).

This is what my Emacs looked like in 2002 on the Window Maker, complete with a transparent aterm on the side.

My Emacs anno 2002

I'm still using and extending the .emacs configuration file I started with back in 2000. Some things are exactly like they were in 2002, like the tkj-default-code-style-hook() function I wrote to get Java and C indentation the way I wanted.

2003 → current - vi(m)

I got my first full time job as a programmer just before Christmas 2003. It was then, I stared exploring another Unix system, namely HP-UX. On those servers, there was neither Pico, nor Emacs, but there was vi (there was no bash either, for that matter, had to use tcsh). I started using vi locally too, and eventually came to the enhanced vim version.

Ever since that day, I've continued to use vim and I'm fluent enough so that I can navigate files, search and replace, line wrap, auto complete and so on. vi has been a trusted tool whatever server I've worked on, including Solaris, HP-X, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Linux or OS X. Learning vi is extremely valuable to any computer engineer, regardless of preferered development environment.

2004 → current - IntelliJ IDEA

Although I use Emacs about 99% of the time, I do use IntelliJ for debugging Java code. Its debugger is still way ahead of anything I've tried in Emacs, including jdb from JDEE, JDIbug and dap-mode. Best of which by far was JDIbug, but that's sadly long since abandoned.


Licensed under CC BY Creative Commons License ~ ✉ torstein.k.johansen @ gmail ~ 🐘 @skybert@emacs.ch ~ 🐦 @torsteinkrause