2016-06-27 Tools for text editing

Editing text is one of my main computer activities. This includes writing software, composing text, structuring my time (calendar etc. are text files), and managing my company (ledger is a text file, with programs to calculate vat). Good software and habits for editing text is therefore important.

Choosing and mastering a good text editor is worthwhile endeavour.

For the last 16+ years I have been using different versions of vi as my primary text editor. It is a modal editor, with quite a steep learning curve, but it is without doubt the most efficient way (for me) to work with text.

Most of the years I have been using Vi IMproved, where I heavily utilize the folding capabilities.
This enables me to work very efficiently with outlines/mindmaps/tree-structures, – which I use for structuring source code, as well as notes, and my calendar / life.

The core idea of folding is that areas of text can be collapsed into a single line.
Imagine a table of contents where each heading can expand to the actual content.

These days I am writing a lot of Lisp (Clojure) code.
This is making me change text editor,
as one of the best tools for lisp code editing is another editor Emacs.
Emacs is actually written in a dialect of lisp, and its tools for working with lisp text files has been perfected over decades.

Fortunately there is a good vi-version of emacs: spacemacs, so I decided to change tool.

My biggest hurdle switching, has been that the folding support is not as good as with vim, – and I use folding a lot with my calendar and note structure. I have tried to switch before, but returned to vim within hours or days, as it impeeded my productivity too much. Fortunately emacs has a mode for working with structured text, org-mode which is quite similar to how I use folding to structure text. This time I managed to convert my notes, calendar, etc. into org-mode format, so now the switch is finally happening.

Here are the keybindings that I like/find myself using often, as an spacemacs newbie

c-h i, spc ,, spc :, h spc

spc spc
jump around in file

c-u, c-d
scroll up/dn

c-x c-+/-/0/=
change font size

spc w v, spc w h/j/k/l, spc w c
window navigation


  • org mode
  • Add configuration layers in the dot-file (SPC f e d)
  • Spacemacs ABC youtube videos is a good starting point

Finding the best tool for the task is important. After getting more into spacemacs, I am pretty sure that this is my editor for the next decades, – and it feels very worth while to dive into.