Assuming that this is not a troll question; it is a tough question to
answer. There are books and books on how to use text editors in general
and Emacs in particular.
But I remember discovering the existence of Emacs the same way you did
five or six years ago. So lets see if we can get started with some real
On Tue, 2009-11-17 at 00:08 -0800, Devin LaCrosse wrote:
> i just recently discovered emacs on my new macbook pro. I read the
> tutorial, i know how to navigate around emacs a bit. The one question
> that's eating me up inside I can't seem to find answer for. Perhaps
> you could help me? I very interested in computer science, emacs
> appears to be an awesome program, I don't know how to program (yet) I
> want to learn how. Can you please explain to me (as if i was 5 years
> old ) what do i use/do with emacs i.e, make video games, websites,
> math programs, please tell me!!!....Thanks in advance for i am excited
> to use this newly discovered program.
To write a computer program you have to have a particular computer
language program installed on your machine in order write human
meaningful instructions for the program in a particular language (e.g.
C, C++, python, lisp etc.) What you end up with after you have written
each piece of your program is what is called a source file. A source
file is meaningful (sort of) to a human.
Once you have written your program all of the words have to be changed
to a form (0's and 1's called object or binary files) that is useful for
a electronic machine which has millions of on/off switches
(transistors). These switches open and close millions of different
electrical circuits within the machine. The flow of electricity
activates or closes different parts of the Central Processing Unit,
Memory and Peripherals. A program uses various combinations of these
circuits in rapid succession to accomplish a task.
There are special programs called compilers that are capable of taking
each word you have written in your source file and looking up and
substituting the equivalent binary instruction(s). Some commercial
programming language packages come with compilers included. And some
compilers like gcc can handle several different languages.
So, to write the kind of program you are talking about you need the
program and libraries for the computer program you are going to use;
Some type of editing program on your computer that allows you to write
the program; and a compiling program that turns everything into machine
Emacs is the editing program -- not the programming language and not the
compiler. To clarify, they are called text editors because they are
used to write and edit the textual source program. They are not very
good at writing prettified published text such as articles, documents,
books, etc. (Although there are ways around that -- but that is a pretty
advanced topic dealing with programs designed for publishing like
Text editors must have some onerous restrictions in order to keep the
text pure enough for the compiler to read i.e. no embedded codes that
might confuse the compiler about what was actually meant e.g. no bold,
no underline, no change in font size etc.
Emacs has been around a long time and has been continually improved and
updated with more and more features that are of interest mainly to
programmers and developers. It has sometimes been accused jokingly as
being an Operating System unto itself.
One word of advice. Never ever mention its nearest rival, vi(m), on an
Emacs list. Such a slip up in good manners will start a holy war that
won't end until next week.
Fedora 11, Gnome 2.26.3
Evo.2.26.3, Emacs 23.1.1