After suffering much inner turmoil, I committed the greatest sin of any Emacs user. I am talking about true heresy. There are many great articles by long-time Vim users who made the switch to Emacs via Evil. But I am approaching Evil from the opposite direction. I have used Vim only sparingly, while I’ve used Emacs for a lot of years. Today I want to talk about why I decided to use Evil and share my initial impressions.
Chords, the Gateway Drug
For a while I’d been using Key Chord Mode by David Andersson. It allows me to define two-key chords which I use to simplify commonly used commands, e.g.
tiny-expand, and so on. Over time I found myself defining more and more of these chords.
Then one day I had the thought, “You know what editor uses chords to great effect….”
Giving in to the Dark Side
Thus I decided to setup Evil, along with a bevy of related packages available at MELPA. It did not take long to adjust, e.g. using
/ to search instead of
C-f instead of
C-v. My habit of using the aforementioned key-chords helped, but my extensive use of another program greatly eased the transition: Conkeror. The browser is almost entirely keyboard-driven and has a system of chords at its core. Most are in the format of object-verb. So for example,
nf follows a link,
nc copies a link,
ic copies the URL for an image, et cetera. This concept of using individual keys to represent objects and actions on them is also at the heart of Vim. And even though Conkeror is inspired by Emacs, it feels more like Vim in that regard.
I have yet to encounter any snags or serious problems with Evil. There are times when I must resort to a cheat-sheet. And there are even times when I’ll use Emacs commands (using
\ in Evil). But these ’crutches’ are disappearing quickly.
The most important question, however, is this: Do I feel more productive by using Evil? While I have no metrics available for support, I must answer with a resounding Yes. That is not to say my productivity has doubled or anything like that. But I am moving through files more quickly and editing, deleted, and re-arranging chunks of text faster than before, all of which has made me feel more productive in Emacs than before.
Give Evil a try. Just don’t tell your die-hard Emacs fans or you may suddenly find yourself ex-communicated.