June 25, 2002

Missing XEmacs

Apple | Emacs

One month in MacOS X exclusively. One program I badly miss on MacOS X is Xemacs. On my Linux desktop, I used to do pretty much everything in Xemacs. My mail program was setup to compose and reply to messages in Xemacs. All my development work, C, Objective-C, Java, XML and XSLT happened in Xemacs.

I tried several alternatives. I tried the editor from ProjectBuilder 1.1.1, which comes with the development tools on 10.1.5. Unfortunately PB cannot be customized through a scripting language; if you ask me this is a real shame not to have this capability in the development environment of the nicest operating system (this is what MacOS X is, right?).

Next, I tried JEdit, which looks really promising; however it is too slow and not as customizable as Xemacs. In Xemacs if you take the time to print the developer documentation and use it both as a learning tool and as a reference, you get really productive after just few months of using the editor. In JEdit this documentation is not yet there, but I think/hope it will be there soon. The fact that's written in Java and uses the BeanShell for scripting makes it a great platform. Unfortunately, Java 1.3.1 on MacOS X is still too slow for a really nice and fast editor: JEdit feels slow compared to XEmacs, which is just fast.

So I decided to compile XEmacs for X-Windows. I installed XDarwin, a free software and really nice X-Windows server. I ended up compiling a bunch of other libraries (libjpeg, libpng, ungif, pspell, libtiff), a decent and fast window manager WindowMaker, before I could compile XEmacs 21.4.8. The compilation went just fine, no problems whatsoever. The resulting binary however seems to lack the buttons in customization buffers. I think it's related to the lack of Motif libraries. I'll compile LessTif and recompile XEmacs, see if I get the buttons.

The integration between XEmacs running in X-Windows and the rest of MacOS X is just awful however! The copy/paste mechanism is terrible and convoluted. The Cmd-S keybinding for the save operations doesn't work in XEmacs. There are many other things which are simply not MacOSX-ish.

Posted by ovidiu at June 25, 2002 10:54 PM |
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