Learning Emacs

Table of Contents

1. Learning Emacs

It’s been said that Emacs is hard to learn, and that there is a long learning curve that can be difficult and frustrating to traverse. At the risk of discouraging a newcomer, I must say that all of this is true.

But don’t be discouraged.

Think of it this way. Emacs is a master craftsman’s tool, or more like toolbox. It can be used to create and do very sophisticated things that are definitely master level work, even world class work.

So follow the analogy. Suppose you want to learn carpentry. You’re presented with a toolkit or workshop which has everything you need to build fine furniture.

On your first day on the job, with no experience at all, are you going to build an elaborate set of cabinets, complete with scrollwork, inlays, hidden hinges, a warm and polished stain that brings out the beauty of the grain?

You wouldn’t expect to do that, and so, you can’t expect to become fully proficient in Emacs and able to do great things without time and effort.

As a fledgling carpenter, you might first learn how to measure and make a simple cut. Or how to use a screwdriver, or a hammer. You would learn a skill at a time, taking as long as it takes to acquire that skill. You would build upon and combine those skills, and as you gained more knowledge and experience, you would start to build simple things, until one day you reach a level where those elegant cabinets come within reach. Even then, you’d keep learning for there is always more to know and more skills to gain and perfect.

Now, it won’t take you anything like at all as long to become at least reasonably proficient in Emacs and it would take you to become a journeyman carpenter. The nice thing about Emacs is that if you learn a few basics you can put them to use at once and leverage them to learn more things.

But still, give yourself time. Put in the effort. Have a little patience. Virtually anyone who has reached a decent level of skill with Emacs will tell you it was worth every minute of study and every second of effort.

So read the books and the manuals. Watch the many videos, some of which are very good indeed. Practice. Make mistakes. Correct them. Make new mistakes. Try new things. Become that master craftsman wielding the master craftsman’s toolbox— Emacs.

Author: Bob Newell

Email: bobnewell@bobnewell.net

Created: 2024-06-02 Sun 10:45