Tidied up: Emacs – a great-grandfather of text editors has a new online home

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The Dutch web developer and science philosopher Thomas FK Jorna seems to be a fan of old-school text editors: in any case, he has given the text editor Emacs, programmed in C and Lisp, a new online presence, on which friends of Plaintext start with the documentation on GNU Emacs , GNU Elisp as well as an org manual for organizing life in pure markup and a somewhat more complex manual for the LaTeX editor AUCTeX.

According to the GitHub entry, Jorna was obviously tired of handling the old-fashioned Emacs manual and wanted a more modern implementation, which he created himself without further ado. The ones from him launched website emacsdocs.org also takes on further documentation in a fresh design, provided that they meet two conditions:

  1. They must be under the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) 1.3 or a similar free license and
  2. they must be in Markdown or a big single page HTML format.

According to Jorna, manuals under the GNU General Public License in version 3 (GPLv3) are out of the question for converting on the website, because GPLv3 contains an explicit patent license and is therefore not a free license. Among other things, content published as Creative Commons 4.0 or Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike 4.0 is suitable.

If you work with GNU Emacs and want to find it easier to look up in the future, you should enjoy the new Docusaurus website. That The emacs-docs project can be found on GitHub, where interested parties can also find out how they can add their own relevant documents. Jorna has what it takes Converter scripts and instructions shared in his repository.

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Emacs was initially based on a collection of macros at MIT, which moved to the Multics mainframe system at the end of the 1970s. The first programming language was Maclisp. In 1981 James Gosling implemented Emacs for Unix systems in C (with the extension language Mocklisp) and sold the code to UniPress. In 1984, open source activist Richard Stallman began a new implementation, now known as GNU Emacs.

The program was under the first copyleft license, from which the GNU General Public License (GPL) should later develop. The editor is mainly programmed in its own dialect of Lisp (Emacs Lisp), which uses different data structures than Maclisp. The core is an interpreter written in C for Emacs Lisp. One advantage is definitely the programmability of Emacs: For example, some editors at Heise use or used Emacs with a special iX mode that marks special features such as liabilities.

The current version of Emacs is 27.2 from March 2021, the last major release (version 27.1) was released in August 2020 and enables, among other things, the processing of JSON. A well-known offshoot from the late 1980s is XEmacs, the further development of which is only progressing cautiously: The last official release is from 2017 and the design is no longer entirely up-to-date.

There is a fork for macOS called Aquamacs, and in 2017 a new implementation written in Rust emerged (Remacs). According to the GitHub repository, the Initiation between Rust and Emacs Although it was probably not considered a failure, it is left idle: The last work on the project took place around two years ago.

Update notice [30.11.2021]: Note on programmability and iX mode added.


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