Why LISP has less success than it could

I’ve been thinking about this problem for awhile, and I have an idea of one of the major factors preventing LISP adoption: EMACS.

Emacs is, well, complete shit. Vim is also shit. They are the awesomest pieces of shit ever. There are people who love EMACS, and people who love Vim (I like Vim actually), but everyone today uses a real IDE, like Netbeans (I hate it) or at least SublimeTEXT(I love it).

The truth is, you can use something like SublimeTEXT with SublimeREPL plugin and get interactive scripting behavior.

So how is EMACS a barrier? Because when you are a newbie to LISP, and you go looking for information about LISP, the first thing everyone says is: Install EMACS. Most newbies stop reading there. “To hell with that!” they say. EMACS is one of those editors that was a really great idea, 20-30 years ago when computers were way different. The problems that they solved are barely relevant today.

No one uses Macros, no one needs weird navigation with the keyboard. A modern IDE needs clickable tabs, not confusing buffer lists, they need file system tree displays, and project management functions built in, not from some confusing 3rd party lib.

The features an IDE must have:

  1. Tabs
  2. Split Layout
  3. PRegex Find and Replace
  4. Highlighting and indenting

The features that are nice to have:

  1. Column Select
  2. Plugin Architecture

Most modern IDEs have all of these, and more. So if you want to learn LISP, forget about EMACS, EMACS sucks, it sucks clown shoes. People who like EMACS are ugly, and stupid, and they need to wake up and join all of us in the 21st century. However LISP is not ugly, or stupid, and it is already in the 23rd Century.

About Jason

I am a 31 year old programmer living in the south of France. I currently work actively in the fields of Ruby/PHP/Javascript and server/website administration.
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  • Yuri Schukow

    I love Emacs. It’s a great tool for doing C/C++, PHP, Python, ASM/AVR, …. I don’t want to use hundred of tools. Maybe Emacs is ugly and maybe i’m ugly too, but i’m producing software of quality and that’s the point because i’ll have the knowledge about my code and do not need assistance from some braindead IDE. You can modify Emacs if you want, you can rewrite it so that it will fit for you. It’s OpenSource and you don’t have to pay for it.

    • jasonrouge

      Right, I am not saying that EMACS is bad. It’s just bad for LISP promotion. What I said was just Hyperbole to make a point, so don’t take it to heart. You can love and use EMACS till the cows come home, but it’s an ancient editor and it’s difficult for new people to understand. I for one use VIM, I like VIM, but I really wouldn’t suggest anyone else use it. Unless you do a lot of work with servers, then you should really learn VIM as it beats the shit out of PICO/NANO.

      If people are going to be LISP evangelists, which I think is something LISP needs, so good evangelism, then the first thing to drop is the EMACS taint.