Notes on Mastering Emacs: Chapter 1: Introduction

By Susam Pal on 16 Dec 2022

The following notes were taken while discussing Chapter 1 of the book Mastering Emacs, 2022 edition (written by Mickey Petersen) in book discussion group meetings.

An index of notes for all chapters are available at notes.html.


Describe System

To get a glimpse of the powerful describe system available in Emacs, type the following key sequence: C-h C-k C-p. This shows the documentation associated with the keys sequence C-p that invokes the command named previous-line to move the cursor to the previous line. The documentation mentions that this command is defined in a file named simple.el. Click on the file name to jump straight into the source code of simple.el where this command is defined. With Emacs, the source code of Emacs is not hidden from the user. The describe system is discussed in Chapter 3 of the book.

Language Servers

The two popular language server implementations for Emacs are LSP Mode and Eglot. Since Emacs 29, Eglot is part of Emacs core and does not require installing a separate package. It can be run with the key sequence M-x eglot RET.

Baroque Terminology

Some examples are:

There are many more such examples. The above examples illustrate the kind of surprises one should be ready for while reading Emacs documentation. Fortunately, it is often possible to understand the meaning of these terms from the context.

Active, Friendly Community

There are three good places to hang out with other Emacs users, seek help, or help others with Emacs:

All three places appear to be quite friendly to beginners to Emacs!

Vim Emulation Layer

The most popular Vim emulation layer these days is Evil Mode. It is often said that the best implementation of Vim is written in Emacs Lisp. Some people also claim that Evil Mode is a better Vim than Vim itself. In fact, the next chapter, i.e., Chapter 3, says the following:

Vim users are migrating to Emacs because, well, Emacs is often a better Vim than Vim.

The following list includes some links that were discussed during the book discussion group meetings: