I recently participated in 2020 Emacs User Survey. One of the questions asked is “When you were first learning
Emacs, what did you find difficult to learn?” The obvious answer is keyboard shortcuts, e.g., instead of CTRL-S for
save, it is CTRL-X CTRL-S. Instead, CTRL-S performs find, which is usually mapped to CTRL-F, and so on and so
Why Emacs is hard for new users
There were other problems too. I didn’t put them all down in the survey. I’ll jot them down here as they come to mind.
Windows, panes, etc.,
The first is how things are named. Look at the screenshot above. What do you think the delete-window command will do?
It turns out the screenshot has two windows: The one on the left has the site-start.el file open and the right window
has smb.conf. The delete-window command will get rid of site-start.el, which is where the cursor is active,
leaving only smb.conf behind.
What most people think of as the window is named a frame in Emacs. This kind of naming is atypical as of 2020. It is
probably too embedded in legacy Emacs code to change. But it sure is confusing to new developers. At least just write a
goddam FAQ to explain common misunderstandings.
The concept of panes does not exist at all, as far as I know.
Copy, paste, and the clipboard
Another example of non-standard terminology is kill and yank. Most people would recognize them as cut and
paste. The Emacs jargon ring buffer is usually thought of as the clipboard.
Why I still use Emacs
So why do I still use Emacs, and even want to see more peopel adopt it? As with many things, the answer is “Not one
single thing makes Emacs great. It is a confluence of factors that does it." Emacs has the advantage of being around for a
long time, having a large repository of well written software, widely installed, fast, and very customizable. Take away
any of those and Emacs will likely fall out of fashion, like Sublime and Eclipse once did. However, with all those
things combined, Emacs still reigns (along with its companion, vi, of course).