The return of Vim and Emacs

You might have already heard the news that we just released support for vim and emacs in our code editor.

Did you know vim was released way back in 1991? Emacs is also a very old editor and its development began in 1976 and has been in active development since then. A lot of IDEs have been released after that but few have a cult following among developers like these two.

Let's talk a little about vims and emacs and some of basic concepts.


Vim is a modal editor where the same keys take on different functions in different modes. You can use this vim cheatsheet.

Editors like vim are based on the concept of configurability. Vim can be configured according to any language. Vim8 has been released and there are a lot of features that have been added, such as-

  • Asynchronous I/O support, channels
  • Support for Jobs
  • Partials
  • Lambda and closure

I will try to show you some basic configurations that work in many languages. Then, I can show you a basic workflow in vim for starters. So let’s try to create an IDE in vim.

Vim provides a lot of features that you can install using a package manager and the most common package managers are vundle and pathogen.

First, create a .vimrc file in your home directory.

The advantage of a vimrc file is that you can check in the file to source control. When you have to work in a new environment, you can just pull the vimrc file and then start working in the new environment. All your views and key combinations will work.

In case you have plugins configured, you can then run the following command and the plugins will get installed.

Here is a short commented part of the .vimrc file that I use.

This should be a good base to get you started. After you are comfortable with this layout, you can edit the file according to the language that you develop in. You can check the References section for some additional reading resources. You will get the whole file here.

This is how my screen looks like when I am doing code editing.



Learning vim can also be fun. You can check out the vim-adventures where you can learn vim commands through gaming.





The emac code editor is similar to vim. GNU Emacs describes it as "the extensible, customizable, self-documenting, real-time display editor."

If you are installing emacs in Ubuntu, you can follow the apt-get install command.

Once done, check if emacs is installed.

If we get the output, then emacs is installed.

You can then start emacs by typing just the command by itself or giving a filename as an argument. If the file exists, it opens the file. Else, it will open an empty file in the buffer and then prompt the user for the input.

If you just run the emacs command, this will open with a welcome message like the one shown below.



Emacs have the concept of modes for different writing styles and languages. Thus, there are modes that support all the popular languages like Python, Java, Perl, etc.



To save the file, you use the command combination (C-x C-s), which means "press the Ctrl and x keys together and then press the Ctrl and s keys together." This should give out a message like the one below.

On the other hand, if you just want to exit the file, you can press (C-x C-c) and this should give you the following output.

You can press "n" and then this will prompt again.

Modified buffers exist; exit anyway? (yes or no)

You can then type "yes" and the emac will exit without the changes being saved.

You can start learning emacs using the following guide.



Full Stack Python, Vim for Python development

About the Author

Joydeep Bhattacharjee is a Category Head (Python) at HackerEarth. He likes to dabble in all things tech and is passionate about open source.