fine, PyDev is better than Emacs for Python. I’m still using Emacs though.

Being part of a company that uses Python, I have a friend who loves
PyDev, an eclipse plugin that basically adapts the functionality of the
eclipse IDE to Python. Even though I’m still an Emacs greenhorn, I swear
my devotion to the text editor wouldn’t waver.

Until I saw what PyDev is capable of.

It’s actually quite amazing: PyDev basically provides practically every
useful eclipse feature for python. The list includes, but is not limited
to:

  • smart code completion with documentation
  • refactoring
  • code coverage
  • unit testing
  • automatic generation of methods and classes

Seriously, cheers to the devs who make this plugin: It’s fantastic. It’s
definitely a tool that I would use completely if all I did was code
Python.

But then I thought about why I was so vehement about switching from
Emacs, even when I was faced with a simple, easy to use tool that does
all the heavy lifting for me. And I realized it’s because I don’t just
code Python.

In any given work day, here’s my list of things I do:

  • write services and tools in python
  • manage configuration files in XML and YAML
  • test deploys and verify using a bash shell or ssh

So all in all, authoring python code is not the only thing I do. It’s
arguably not the major thing I do with my days either. What I need is a
text editor that is complex enough to assist me with modifying files
with complex regular expressions and easy file navigation, but also
versatile enough to do quick file discovery, and run commands in a
shell. Emacs can do all that. And if something else pops up in the
future, maybe Emacs isn’t the best solution, but I know it’ll have
something that’ll do the job. The advantage of having a single set of
hotkeys, a single environment do all of my daily task from, outweighs
the advantage for me of using a specified IDE. And if some day I switch
languages, Emacs will most likely contain a suite of tools, that I can
just plug and play, or I can write my own with a fully-featured
programming language.

And I think, ultimately, this is why anyone really uses Emacs. It’s not
only the problems your facing now. It’s knowing that you’re investing
time into an environment that’s flexible enough to face your diverse
challenges in the future.