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Editor nirvana

Posted by Ricardo Bánffy at Aug 04, 2009 09:15 AM |

To say GNU Emacs is merely a text editor is an understatement. Ever since I decided I would learn to use it (out of a never quite accomplished mission of learning Lisp once and for all), it impresses me almost on a daily basis.

Yesterday, while playing with my choice of screen fonts for the editor (something every bit as important as choosing one's text editor), I discovered two pop-up menu options, to increase and decrease font size. A little playing with Meta-X and I arrived a couple functions, "text-scale-increase" and "text-scale-decrease". A little more digging brought me to the key combinations "Control X Control plus" and "Control X Control minus" sequences. Usable, but I wanted something easier to type.

Few non-Emacs users appreciate the fact Emacs has no configuration file. What it has is a program, in its own Lisp dialect, that's executed every time the editor is started. Within this program I can define new functions, load external libraries and even write a credible implementation of vi. This time I made two simple edits to my init.el file that added two new key bindings:

(global-set-key (kbd "C--") 'text-scale-decrease)
(global-set-key (kbd "C-+") 'text-scale-increase)

The first one binds the "Control minus" key combination to the text-scale-decrease function (that decreases text size) while the second binds "Control plus" to the opposite text-scale-increase function. Easy enough for me. Now, every time Emacs starts, it has a couple bindings extra key bindings (on top of all other already added by loading external libraries, modules and so on) that make my life more convenient.

And this concludes my Emacs praise of the day. Thanks for coming.