Emacs and org-mode

I've been drawn deeper into Emacs over the last two months. I've used Emacs for at least ten years, on and off, always using it at least for my Python development. My .emacs.d git log shows its first commit in 2012, probably from when I was starting to synchronize my configuration across machines.

I think I've resisted learning more about Emacs because of how much it can be customized: I felt that I shouldn't spend my time building an environment just for me, especially if that environment might need to be reset or go away one day. However, Emacs has been around a really long time, and in fact has been more of a constant than most other tools I use.

Here are a few highlights of my Emacs journey so far collected in my init.el (github):

  • Python: python-mode, virtualenvwrapper, jedi-mode, pony-mode, flymake for code editing
  • File format modes: markdown-mode, graphviz-dot-mode, yaml-mode, puppet-mode, json-mode
  • magit + magit-gitflow for git
  • edit-server for Google Chrome textarea editing
  • helm
  • system-type and system-name specific configurations
  • no-easy-keys

I am now trying to learn more about org-mode, since many people claim it's the killer feature of Emacs. I found Orgzly for Android, which lets you open and edit org-mode files on Android, I'm experimenting with org-journal to keep a journal, and I'm now setting up org-mode with Jekyll.

One maxim of org-mode is that you're just writing text files, so they can be more easily read in ten years. As I look back at my digital files over the last 20 years, I realize it would be nice to have more content that's in a standard, open format. Although I doubt I'll switch to org-mode for tasks, I have been a toodledo user for more than five years and all my data's in that system. If I want to switch, someone's even written org-toodledo for synchronizing toodledo to org-mode.

I'm also interested in writing a book about IT management, and org-mode's outlining tools seem like they would grow with me as I continue to learn it.

On the org-mode/Jekyll front, I like that I can generate a static web site rather than needing to maintain a WordPress instance. I recognize that for most people having a WordPress environment is a huge help; in my case I am very comfortable with the technical components of a web site. I also like the idea that running a simple, static web site. I like not running plugins or Google Analytics.

So it's likely that this will just be another in the line of biannual blog posts, but I'm hoping trying out org-mode might make it a bit more fun for me to write again.