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M-x Forever: Why Emacs will outlast text editor trends

David Wilson

Q&A: live
Duration: 24:52

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00:01 Introduction and conclusion 00:28 Who am I? 01:07 Is Emacs unpopular? 02:26 What does popularity really mean? 04:15 How do we measure popularity? 04:32 Google Trends 06:18 Stack Overflow Survey 08:20 Community Activity 10:23 How do editors lose popularity? 10:38 A new editor with better features appears 12:25 Lack of sufficient maintenance 14:01 The "fashion" moves on 14:36 What happens when an editor loses popularity? 17:10 How will Emacs survive despite popularity? 17:20 Emacs is more deeply hackable than almost all other editors 19:51 Emacs has a strong community of highly skilled package authors 21:15 Emacs has a very strong user community 22:33 The Emacs maintainers and contributors care about the users 23:40 Isn't all this supposed to come when an editor is popular? 24:22 When someone talks about popularity...


00:00 Thanks 00:26 In your opinion, what is Emacs' Achilles heel? 03:09 What is your opinion about the documentation of Emacs in other languages? 05:06 Do you think more effort should be made to popularize hacking on the C parts of Emacs? 06:31 Can you name a few features from other programming languages that you miss in Emacs Lisp? 07:12 What are your opinions on Emacs's commitments to free software? 08:22 Do you think that packages like Magit or Org mode make people see Emacs as an obstacle to these applications that they want to use? 11:42 Another way people can help inspire others to use Emacs 12:57 Should Emacs continue to present itself as an esoteric program and culture, or should we try to dispel the myth? 14:49 Do you think there could be changes made to the core of Emacs that would betray the ethos you and most people here appreciate? 15:22 When will David Wilson and Protesilaos collaborate? 15:38 If you had to choose between graphics or real browser support within Emacs, which would you choose? 16:28 How do you feel being an Emacs-focused YouTuber? 18:29 More typesetting capabilities versus better performance 20:31 Sneak peek of what's coming in the YouTube channel soon? 24:43 Principles and compromises 25:07 Understanding the value of Emacs Lisp 26:10 Will you do a video showing your personal workflow? 26:44 What do you think about Guix or NixOS? 28:12 Can you talk about your actual work? 31:18 Do your colleagues use Emacs as well? 35:23 Any thoughts on the idea that the best tool to use is the one that is easiest to leave? 39:23 Do you think there should be an updated initial configuration for fresh Emacs installations with more modern UI features and cool shortcuts? 42:29 How hard is it to get into the native code side of Emacs? 43:50 Emacs Chats 46:28 Livestreams 53:34 Short-form videos


The computer software industry has seen many "popular" text editors come and go, often due to the mercurial fashions of software development. In this talk, we'll take a look at why popular editors fade and the specific aspects of Emacs that will ensure it remains relevant regardless of mainstream popularity.



  • Q1: In your opinion, what is Emacs achilles heel? It's obviously a powerful tool, but no tool is perfect. What would make your life easier in day to day use with Emacs (either a package you wish existed, or a core Emacs infrastructure change).
    • A: (Probably answered by voice.)
  • Q2:Comparing Emacs just to code editors is not a good measure as Emacs is so much more; GTD, word processor, (reference) organizer, or recently expressed on reddit as being a text productivity platform.
    • A: (Probably answered by voice.)
  • Q3: What is your opinion about the documentation of Emacs in another language in addition of english. There aren't too much non-english community. The people from another non-english countries should write documentation in own language or in english?
    • A: (Probably answered by voice.)
  • Q4: Do you think more effort should be made to popularize hacking on the C-parts of Emacs? It seems that this is the achilles-heal for the the long-term maintainance of Emacs, if less and less people understand what is going on underneeth eval and apply.
    • A: (Probably answered by voice.)
  • Q5: Can you name a couple or a few features from other programming languages that you miss in Emacs Lisp?
    • A: (Probably answered by voice.)
  • Q6: A lot of people take issue with Emacs commitment to to Free Software. They claim it holds it back, and that it should be more "pragmatic". What are your oppinions on this?
    • A: (Probably answered by voice.)
  • Q7: Do you think that packages like Magit or Org-Mode make people see Emacs as an obstacle to these applications they want to use? Is this an issue, or should it be seen as an opportunity to teach them about Emacs/Free Software?
    • A: (Probably answered by voice.)
  • Q8: Should Emacs continue to present itself as a esotetic program and culture? Or should we try to dispell the myth, and make clear that anyone can use it, not just extreem entusiasts? Or is this needed to motiviate people to invest time into properly learning Emacs?
    • A: (Probably answered by voice.)
  • Q9: Do you think there could be changes made to the core of Emacs that would betray the ethos you (and most people here) appriciate? I am thinking of points that some of Emacs' critics demand, to allegedly make Emacs more popular. Do you think this is a realistic threat, or could we save ourselves by forking?
    • A: (Probably answered by voice.)
  • Q10: The kids want to know : when an ongoing joint video collaboration between @daviwil and @protesilaos?
    • A: (Probably answered by voice.)
  • Q11: If you had to choose between graphics layer (2D & 3D), or "real" browser support inside Emacs, which would you choose?
    • A: (Probably answered by voice.)
  • Q12: How'd you feel on being an Emacs focused Youtuber? Do you think Youtube generates a lot of new users?
    • A: (Probably answered by voice.)
  • Q13: There might once have been a debate whether to add more typesetting capablities to emacs to make it more of a word processor or work on the core performance issues. The current work on native compilation and the community's response to that work show users are actually very interested in perfomance enhancements. What is your opinion on it?
    • A: (Probably answered by voice.)
  • Q14: Can you give us a sneak peek of what's coming in the YouTube Channel soon?
    • A: (Probably answered by voice.)
  • Q15: what about guix ? videos about emacs and guix
    • A: (Probably answered by voice.)
  • Q16: Are you interested in making Youtube videos on the new cool things happening in Emacs, like EAF or Nyxt?
    • A: (Probably answered by voice.)


  • Hey Daviwil, I'm curious if you'll do a video showing your personal workflow?
  • What do you think about Guix or Nixos + emacs videos ?
  • It's nice to watch your videos and grab ideas from your workflows, or your code.
  • That happens whenever I've used magit at work :D.
  • Any thoughts on the idea that the best tool to use is the one which is easiest to leave? Possibly this is now even more relevant now that there is a heavy push to cloud services.
    • I guess it also depends on who owns said tool (given that most cloud services aren't owned by the user).
  • Do you think that there should an updated initial configuration for fresh Emacs installations with more "modern" (UI) features, or even CUA-like shortcuts?
  • I really appreciate the live-video format: non-edited, live, thinking aloud videos - compared to all the polished super-edited "artificial" videos are more a show-of (see me!) as opposed to actually want to share knowledge...
  • Hm. Will you do live pair-programming in the future? I believe you did that with JT some weeks ago.
  • I would be very interested in summaries!
  • Transcript remark: name mentioned by iLemming is written "John Lindquist".
  • I think (possibly) emacs content might have been statistically relevant enough for bots to generate videos and upload them. For the last few months there seemed to be a constant stream of videos with the same intro and outro, plus some text to video in the middle.
    • Sound like Tony's videos, which are user generated, but seem very automatic generated.
  • 2 min videos will be too short - event for a short video. I think 5-10 min will allow for a good short intro to a specific functionality..


  • My anecdotal evidence, is introducing my coworkers to org mode, and the intracacies of doing more and more in Emacs. It becomes an overwhelming advantage.
  • lots of really popular editors are primarily maintained by companies and dies when the backing companies stop maintaining it
  • Popularity also adds to people breaking features that long time users like me use everyday but they don't see as popular and so they feel the need to break for something different.
  • I think a lot of popularity could be gotten from introducing more people in academic fields to Emacs. Org-Mode is such a game changer on that front.
  • Now, Emacs is based on another mind-blowing idea. The idea of practical notation for lambda calculus, what is known as Lisp. Lisp, probably can be crowned as the most important idea in computer science. It just hard to think of something more influential than Lisp. Emacs is just a practical implementation (and frankly, not the best one) of that idea.
  • Yes. Emacs is an editor for creating domain specific editors.
  • my only problem with the Emacs community is that the community in other language is non-existen
  • Would there be any way to have other Lisps like Guile be compatible with Emacs?
    • Guile has an Elisp interpreter in its compiler tower, however it's afaik not up to snuff for actually running Emacs.
    • the problem is the "big datatypes" like buffers and strings, which guile either doesn't do at all or which need expensive bidirectional transcoding across the boundary
    • some like this?
  • I think seeing power users do the things they do with Emacs and Org-mode and how prolific they are is a major selling point (thinking of so many people, but say John Kitchin comes to mind)
    • To piggy back on a previous comment, I think if people kept seeing the top people in their fields (be in science/academic, software engineering, devops, etc.) use Emacs and Org-mode and especially their uniquely powerful features (literate style with org-babel, etc), Emacs would start taking over beyond it's historically low single digit % adoption
    • luckily for me, John Kitchin shows a lot of engineering applications of emacs and org-mode and I love those videos, but I can understand that a lot of people won't find someone like that for their profession
    • The concurrent pushes for reproducible science, literate programming, literate devops, and so on, also contribute to making the case for Emacs & Org-mode
  • the performance point is spot on. That is one of the main reason why the neovim community is thriving

  • From YouTube:

    • Emacs has changed the way I use my computer. It is absolutely
      amazing. I use Emacs to: write latex files, write code, organize my life
      (with the help of org mode), check my email, use git , use terminal etc.
      Actually I have recently switched my desktop environment to exwm and it is
      perfect for my workflow. I guess nothing can beat this tool.
    • What I noticed from one graph you showed was that most people using stack overflow also use visual studio code, is there a correlation there I wonder.
    • As for Google analytics ranking, some other factors to consider: - What percentage of emacs users search via Google? I may be wrong, but I think emacs users are more likely to use alternative search engines like Duck Duck Go. - There is so much help info built into emacs compared to other editors that is easy to look up right from inside our editor, I wonder what percentage of the searches on Google for the other editors are basic usage questions of the kind emacs users wouldn't need to search online for? I don't know how much weight these factors have in skewing results, but as you said, it doesn't really matter!
    • This goes too show in 2004 less people where on the internet and most of then where hard core programmers, and now with more an more people coming into tech , new peeps just want to code and don't care about tools as much . So yeah , I am grateful to you david for introducing me to emacs even though I am too in this new wave


  • Discuss the core thesis, the features that make Emacs desirable for long-term use (extensibility, day-to-day 'life' features)

  • Include more background on the text editor landscape and how the scope of various editors is more narrow and doesn't compare to Emacs.

  • Talk about specific instances where editors were popular, fell out of popularity, and why (due to changing fashions, not usually better features).


[00:00:01.280] Hi everyone! I'm very excited to be here at EmacsConf 2021 today to give my talk called "M-x Forever: How Emacs Will Outlast Text Editor Trends." So let's start with the conclusion first. I know, it's a little bit unorthodox, but let's just try and see what happens. So no matter what happens in the wider software world, GNU Emacs will continue to be a beloved program with a dedicated community and a healthy team of maintainers and contributors.

[00:00:28.080] You're probably wondering who am I to be making such a claim, so I'll tell you. I am David Wilson, the creator of the System Crafters YouTube channel and community. If you want to see a lot of really great videos about GNU Emacs, GNU Guix, etc., come check out my YouTube channel. I'm also on LBRY and Odysee if you don't want to go use YouTubea And also, if you're the type of person who doesn't want to use any of these websites and you want to see my videos anyway, please just send me an email at the email address below and I'll see if I can set you up with that. You can also check out my website and the places where we chat, especially on at the #systemcrafters channel. If you have any thoughts after seeing this talk, please feel free to send me an email or find me on chat.

[00:01:07.200] So there is a recurring concern in the Emacs community about its popularity. This is something that keeps coming back time and time again. You probably see it every year or two where people on Reddit or maybe on the emacs-devel mailing list are talking about ways to increase Emacs popularity. More recently, there was a discussion on Hacker News where somebody posted a link to this Making Emacs Popular Again blog post which does chronicle some of the more recent discussions on emacs-devel about things that could be done to make Emacs a more popular editor. So the title of my talk claims that Emacs is going to outlast text editor trends. So to elaborate on this claim, we're going to try to answer a few specific questions. First of all, what is popularity and how do you even measure it? If people are saying that Emacs needs to be more popular, then what do we really mean by popularity? Also, what are the benefits of popularity? If emacs did somehow become more popular, what benefits would it receive from that? And also, how does an editor lose popularity, and what are the possible consequences to that? And then what are the unique factors about Emacs that will ensure that it survives long term? What is special about Emacs that will help it to thrive despite whatever happens in the popular sphere of text editors and programming languages, etc.?

[00:02:26.959] So, first of all, what does popularity really mean? When someone says that Emacs needs to become more popular, what are they really saying is that there needs to be more users, and that they stick around. Like, they learn how to use Emacs and they continue to be users. If we did get those new users, what would it actually do for Emacs? Also, is it that there are more community members that are creating new packages? You know, that sort of assumes that the editor itself doesn't have enough packages, or that the only way that the an editor stays alive is for there to be constant churn, with new packages coming around. Is it that there is more content being created by users, like more blog posts being written, more YouTube videos being made, more other ways that people are evangelizing the use of Emacs and also teaching people how to use it? Also, is it that more long-term stability is had in the editor, and more core improvements that are being made over time? I mean, I guess you could say that it does make sense that if the editor is more popular, then people will be more invested in improving it, and there will be more new contributors coming in, but is greater and greater popularity really what's needed to ensure that this happens? Also, it could just be that there's more validation for someone's personal choices. You know, people tend to use these software choices they use as part of their identity. So is it that they want Emacs to be more popular so that they can finally say, "I'm an Emacs user," and have people think that they're cool or "hip" or whatever? I hope that... Hopefully, that's not the case. Hopefully, it's one of these other points. But it could be something because, as we see, you know, there's a lot of trends and fashion when it comes to software development and also free software and open source tools. So as we go through this talk, keep these questions in mind as we talk about some of the finer points on all of this, and see whether you think that popularity really correlates with these things.

[00:04:15.680] So first of all, how do we measure popularity? What information do we have to actually determine which editors are popular, and whether they're gaining or losing popularity? So I've got a few, or a couple places here that we can look at to judge the popularity of various editors.

[00:04:32.400] First of all, Google Trends. Google actually gives us the ability to track and compare search volume for particular terms and topics over time. So if you wanted to know how often someone was searching about Emacs, maybe to try to find help for something, or look for documentation, or maybe look for blog posts, etc., you can look at Google Trends to see how often people are searching for Emacs over time. One useful ability is that we can compare how much people are searching across various different topics and see a graph, which is what i'm going to show you right now. This graph shows you the search volume for Emacs compared to Vim, Atom, Sublime Text, and Visual Studio Code from 2004 to the present worldwide, so all across the world where searches are happening. You can see that in 2004, Emacs is the reigning king supreme where you have the most search terms or searches happening on emacs at that time. Also, Vim is quite high on this list as well. Let's see. Sublime Text is a bit lower in the list, but it's in third place. Nope. Yep. That's right. Then atom is quite low, but I think that Atom didn't exist yet, so maybe at that point, you know, this is probably something else. Google is just getting random data. And then Visual Studio Code also didn't exist, so probably this is like Visual Studio searches, but then as you go across the years, you see that gradually, Emacs popularity appears to be declining. As does Vim, but not quite so much. And then over time, Sublime Text becomes more popular, and then VS Code in more recent years becomes very popular compared to everything else. So it looks like Emacs has declined significantly in popularity, while the other editors have taken over. But is the search volume really the only important factor that indicates popularity or health of a given editor? That still remains to be seen.

[00:06:18.319] We can also take a look at the yearly survey that the website Stack Overflow puts out asking developers about the tools that they use to find out which ones are being used most frequently and that are gaining popularity over time. So there is a great blog post by someone named Roben Kleene, who synthesizes some of this data together, specifically about editors, and provides us with a graph that we can take a look at that compares the popularity of particular editors in the last maybe four or five years, at least 2015 to 2019, based on the responses to the Stack Overflow survey. In this case we see that Emacs is the light blue line, and it sort of stays in maybe, let's see, maybe third place in the beginning, and then fifth place, and basically just stays in fifth place the whole time, compared to things like Atom, Sublime Text, and VS Code. As we saw before, the VS Code just sort of ramps up at the end. Now, this is another thing that basically is showing us similarly to the Google Trends that Emacs's popularity is not quite as much as other editors out there. You can also look at the 2021 results of the Stack Overflow survey, which I'll show you now, which shows Emacs in 16th place. Let's see. If we look here, we see Visual Studio Code is the most popular, then we have a whole bunch of other well-known editors. Some are kind of surprising, like Notepad++ is quite high up there, but then we have Emacs here coming right in behind PhpStorm and NetBeans, which is pretty funny to me. But it just goes to show you that the Emacs community is smaller than what you might consider for other editors, or at least the Emacs user base, maybe. Maybe it's just the people who actually respond to the survey. You can't really tell for sure because all this data is coming from a self-selected group of people who have responded to the survey. So I think what... Basically, what I'm trying to say is that if you look at all these things, you would probably get the perception that Emacs is dead and that maybe nobody really uses the editor anymore, or that it's on its way out.

[00:08:20.000] However, I think there's another way to look at the health or popularity of Emacs (or any other editor, really), and that is to judge the popularity and health by taking a look at the community activity in places such as Reddit, or maybe on Discord servers, Slack servers, IRC channels, mailing lists, particularly on emacs-devel, where all of the conversation about the development of Emacs happens. Blogs. There's quite a lot of people in the Emacs community writing blog posts. There's quite a few YouTube channels now making content about Emacs pretty frequently, and then conferences like this one, EmacsConf. If you've spent any time in any of these places recently, did you actually get the sense that Emacs community lacks activity? I personally don't. I see quite a lot of activity on Reddit, I see a lot of activity in various other places, even my own chats that I've created. Lots of people talking about Emacs every day. But this is harder to measure, because you would have to go count all of the mailing list emails compared to other editors, or maybe like the Reddit posts compared to other editors. We could do that, but really, the more important thing is to just go experience the community by going to one of these places and take a look at what's going on. You can get a really good sense of that by checking out Sacha Chua's Emacs News roll-up blog posts that come out every week. It's a very good distillation of things that are happening in the Emacs community. If you look at those things and look at all that, you can tell that there is actually something happening in the Emacs community that is more than what you see in the numbers on Google Trends and on Stack Overflow. Another interesting point that doesn't really fit into all this, but if you want to look at the actual data from the Emacs community about how the community uses Emacs, check out the results of the 2020 Emacs survey. I'm sure there's going to be another Emacs survey at some point soon, as well, but that will give you some insight into what's happening within the community itself. You can see that there's quite a lot of activity and a lot of different use cases for Emacs and types of people who are using Emacs.

[00:10:23.200] Let's talk about how editors lose popularity. So people are worried that Emacs is going to lose popularity. What do they worry is going to happen if that happens? Or how actually could it happen?

[00:10:38.320] So maybe a new editor with better features appears. So one theory for why users left TextMate for Sublime Text... If you don't know about TextMate, it was a very popular editor on macOS back probably in the Ruby on Rails craze time frame, maybe like the mid-2000s, 2005 or so. Then eventually Sublime Text came along, and it had a better extensibility API and really good performance. It also was able to use some of the same stuff from TextMate, like these syntax highlighting grammars and the snippet definitions, etc. So you had TextMate which was a well-loved editor, but then a new editor called Sublime Text came along with better functionality, and people started switching over to it because it could do more things and the user had more ability to add functionality to it. Also, VS Code came along and used a similar model to the Atom editor, basically being a web-based editor using Electron, but it greatly improved upon performance and IDE tooling ecosystem. For people getting real work done with large projects, you need to have things like IntelliSense, and being able to find definitions of functions or classes that are defined. So you have a new editor that comes along that has basically better functionality than the one that was there before. But the thing is, if you have a new editor that comes along with better functionality, it still has to be at least as good as or better than the previous editor for people to stick with it. So it's a very tall order for someone to say there's going to be some editor that will come along that would be better than Emacs on every dimension, because there are some unique dimensions that are hard to beat in an editor like Emacs. Lack of sufficient maintenance. That's one thing that could possibly happen if an editor loses popularity. So maybe sometimes... Sorry, that's something that can cause a lack, a loss of popularity.

[00:12:25.680] Sometimes the development team for an editor either moves on or maybe switches focus to a different project. When this happens, the development of the editor can stagnate, giving the impression that it's dead. You can see this happening a lot of times on repositories for open source projects, where if someone doesn't make any commits or adding new features for a while, people just automatically assume that the thing is dead, even if it's in a very stable state and doesn't really need any improvements to be made. This is something that can happen over time. The developers of Sublime Text sometimes give the impression that the editor isn't being maintained because of long breaks between updates, and this gives people... If you go search for "Is Sublime Text dead?", you'll see posts about this every couple years, where people are wondering what's happening with Sublime Text, when in reality, there's actually development happening on this project, and paid users are getting these updates because they've paid, but the product is not open source. You have no visibility into the development. So if people have the perception that the editor is not being maintained, then there's going to be rumors getting started, and that could cause the mentality of people to shift and try to move on to other editors because they perceive them to be more well-maintained or more active. Another problem can be that there are major bugs that persist over a long time that aren't being fixed while the maintainers are focusing on some other efforts in the project, and this could hurt sentiment in the community and cause a backlash leading to an exodus. So if you have really bad bugs and people think that you're not really concerned about fixing them, then that could be something that would cause an editor to lose popularity as people move on to find something else that appears to be more stable.

[00:14:01.040] Lastly, sometimes all it takes is for a new programming language to become popular or for an influential person to say that they switched to a different editor, because people are capable of being led by someone else who is influential, so sometimes it's just... All it takes is someone to say, you know, I'm not going to use this editor any more, and other people will follow. But oftentimes, it's not just about the fashion changing, it's also there's other problems that are happening. Some of these other things that I mentioned before that could be contributing to this overall sentiment that caused people to move on.

[00:14:36.959] So then what happens when an editor loses popularity? If people are worried that Emacs is going to lose popularity, what happens if it doesn't gain more? So what are the possible consequences? Well, maybe core maintainers will gradually leave the project with nobody to replace them. I mean, if you have a project like Emacs where there's a core that's written in a language that's different than the language everybody uses to extend it, then maybe it's risky to have people leave the project because you don't have other people to come along who can help maintain it and to carry on the knowledge of the core. Also, maybe no new features are being added to stay competitive with other editors. So this is one of these things where people kind of feel like there's a feature mill, where you know if new features are coming online in other editors, maybe your editor needs to catch up. Well, I don't really think that that's necessarily needed, but if there are new paradigms or usage patterns or workflows that are becoming... I guess you could say mainstream, sometimes it does make sense for an editor to be able to adopt these, but if you have a sufficiently extendable editor, then oftentimes, you don't really need to do anything other than just write a new package. Critical bugs that never get fixed... I mean, if people start to drift off from the project, it is much more likely that bad bugs won't get fixed over time. Less community interest in creating and maintaining packages. There's another possibility if people don't feel like it's worth their time anymore because not many people are using an editor, maybe they'll have more users or more interaction if they go write a similar package for a different editor. Less blog posts, videos, content. Basically, like, if people feel that it's not worth their time to make content about the editor either, or if you're just not interested any more, then those things will dry up. And also one thing that is possible, but probably not very likely, is that the program may not be packaged any more in Linux distributions or for other operating systems. So if it's not worth someone to package it, or they just sort of lose interest in the editor, then maybe those things sort of drift away and you can't even install it any more in many places. But I feel that these things would only really happen if there was already other major issues in the dev team or in the community, like maybe a high profile schism in the maintainer team, sort of like what we saw with GNU Emacs versus XEmacs, because you have two competing versions of the same idea with different implementations, and then over time, one of them may fade out because people just lose interest and maybe something like GNU Emacs gradually catches up and surpasses it in functionality. So these things can happen, but it's not really as likely as people would think, I think.

[00:17:10.240] So how is Emacs going to survive despite popularity? I feel that there are a few important and unique factors that are going to contribute to this.

[00:17:20.160] First of all, Emacs is more deeply hackable than almost all other editors. I'm couching that a bit, but really it is basically more extensible than any other editor. I haven't seen one that's more extensible than Emacs so far, and that's because Emacs was designed for this. The whole point of Emacs is that you should be able to go in and customize your workflow, and customize the editor to do exactly what you want it to do. It's this whole idea of user freedom. You're not letting the editor designer tell you what to do, you're telling the editor what to do at every step of the way. Also, an Emacs user can grow their skills from small configuration tweaks, just basically setting variables and whatnot, to writing their own packages over time, and then eventually to contributing to Emacs itself-- the same skill set, because the majority of the functionality of the editor is written with the same language that you use to configure it. So unlike other editors, where you have... the way that you write extensions for the editor, that has a specific API, but if you go contribute to the core, the code base is completely different. It's different with Emacs because you have basically the same APIs, the same code and same everything that you use to write a package versus writing actual code for functionality for the editor. Now obviously, there's the C layer that is different, but I think a lot of the actual packages and functionality in Emacs are at the Emacs Lisp layer. So what this means is that Emacs configuration hackers and package authors are prime candidates for eventually becoming contributors to Emacs itself. You see this play out a lot of times in Emacs community, where someone writes some really good packages, and either parts of those get merged into Emacs or that person maybe makes contributions to Emacs to add new functionality that their own packages can use, or just to improve Emacs as a whole. So there's much more chance that people who are involved in the community of Emacs can actually become contributors to the project itself. I think that's going to be very important for its health. Also, you don't need to add functionality to Emacs core to make the editor itself better. Package authors are on an equal playing field as the built-in functionality, for the same reason what I said before. Everything's written with Emacs Lisp, or I guess a lot of the functionality is written with Emacs Lisp. Since there's a lot of ways to hook into or replace functionality in Emacs, you can do a lot of deep customizations to Emacs itself to make it better in ways that aren't really... The core developers don't need to add new things for you to do that. You can just do it if you want to. So that gives Emacs more of a platform feel rather than just being an editor that can't really be changed very much.

[00:19:51.440] Also, Emacs has a strong community of highly-skilled packaged authors and the high-quality packages that they create make it far better and more uniquely valuable than many other editors. Specifically, things like Org mode, Magit, Org-roam, and a lot of other things that we've talked about on the System Crafters channel over time, and the hundreds of other workflow-improving packages that have been created over the years. So all these things really make Emacs a unique offering in the space of text editors, or development tools, or even just general information management tools, or desktop environments, if you want to call it that. So the people who are involved in making these things make Emacs far better than it could be just by itself, and this thriving ecosystem helps Emacs to continually feel fresh, regardless of what's happening in core Emacs development, because packages can do so much and because people can come along and propose sort of a new way of doing things and other people can start using it. Emacs itself doesn't have to be beholden to just what the core developers do. The community can also play a major role in making Emacs feel fresh and be modernized over time. Just take a look at what Doom Emacs is doing to give Emacs a better face, and Spacemacs as well. Those things are very good for making Emacs more palatable to the general public, because you have a much better experience out of the box, and a lot of things have been polished for the user experience.

[00:21:15.280] Emacs also has a very strong user community. Lots of activity and discussion about emacs is taking place all the time in various places, like we talked about before. Mailing lists, IRC, Reddit, etc. If you get into Emacs and you go take part in the Emacs community, there's always going to be somebody around who's going to want to talk about Emacs with you and answer your questions. So it's a very good thing for the health of the project because there's a lot of people there that are very invested in it every day and want to see it succeed. Also, there's many community members writing articles and making videos about Emacs, many of which are actually moving forward the state of the art about how we use the editor, and how we use it... I mean, how many times have you seen a really great blog post that completely blew your mind and showed you a new way to use Emacs, or a new way to think about how you use Emacs. I see stuff like that all the time, like posts by Protesilaos, or by Karthik, or by many other people who show you a new way to look at things, and then you're, like, Wow. This... I could do things completely different than I was doing before. This kind of stuff is extremely important for the health of the editor going forward, because people are able to inspire others to use the editor. It's a great thing for evangelism as well. Like, if someone happens to stumble across a video or a blog post, they may be really inspired to use Emacs.

[00:22:33.440] And lastly, the Emacs maintainers and contributors really care about the users. There are many core maintainers who have been with the project for 10+ years, some way longer than that. So it shows you that the people who work on this project really care a lot, and they're very invested in making sure that it remains healthy for the long term. They also really care about ensuring that Emacs continues to work well for long-time users, (and some people have been using it for 30 to 40 years, which is kind of insane, if you think about it), all while gradually and sensibly enabling new scenarios and core improvements that benefit all of us, even the new and the old users. Keeping a piece of software running and relevant for this many years is a huge effort, so I'm very thankful to the maintainers of Emacs, and I hope all of you are as well, because this is kind of an anomaly in the software field to have a piece of software that has existed for so long, who has managed to survive despite various different types of platform transitions, operating transitions over the years and still thrive and be a very useful and very key piece of software for a lot of people.

[00:23:40.960] So aren't all these things that we just talked about supposed to come when an editor is popular? We've been talking about what is popularity, what benefits come with popularity. So all the things I just mentioned, shouldn't that be something that would only be for editors that are super popular? Well, I guess the answer is maybe Emacs is actually popular enough. That doesn't necessarily mean that we should not try to help other people find Emacs, but I think that we should not worry so much about the popularity of Emacs, because what we have is great, and we should just focus our time on continuing to improve the health of the community that we have and the health of the editor itself, and not worry too much about chasing whatever is happening out in the world at any given point.

[00:24:22.880] To conclude, the next time someone says we should do this thing or this other thing to make Emacs more popular, ask them these questions. 1. What does popularity mean to you? 2. How do you measure it? 3. What do you think Emacs is going to gain from increased popularity? So I hope that you found this talk inspiring and maybe a little bit reassuring. Thanks so much for your time, and happy hacking. We'll see ya. captions by sachac

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