Emacs for Writers : Part 2

Refer to Part 1 here


Here are various other tricks Jay talks about, in his presentation.

org-bullets

Makes pretty bullets in org-mode. spacemacs already comes with this package. No additional work needed. Off course, you can customize the bullets to your liking, but I am pretty happy with the defaults.

notmuch for emails

Jay doesn’t show notmuch but makes a comment about it. I looked at it, but I think my use case is bit different. I would rather have something like mutt , than something just searches and outsources sending and receiving to other programs or libraries.

I was amazed to see that emacs lets you search google from within (without opening up the browser) spacemacs lets you initiate a search (but opens the results in a browser) Try SPC s w g

Abbreviations

This is like a autohotkey program some of you might have used. As a writer, Jay uses it extensively. He shows his abbrevs_defs file, which is huge. Jay used abbreviation bq to insert #+BEGIN_QUOTE and +END_QUOTE pair. may be it was a snippet (yasnippet ??) I couldn’t make out.

nvALT

Jay says that if someone wants to move away from MS Word (he is very unhappy with MS Word as a “writer’s tool” (Hence the need to combine workflowy with scrivener, refer to previous Part 1) he would recommend this program to them rather than uphill learning curve of Emacs. I looked at it, but the program doesn’t seem to be updated in at least couple of years. Plus there is a deft mode in emacs, which I think is similar

fountain mode

Jay shows a screen play. Apparently fountain-mode is a standard (text-based) file format, understood by others tools as well.

poetry mode

counts number of syllables in the line, shows words rhyme. with the word under cursor I was blown away to see the demo.

I couldn’t catch the details. This essentially does a lot of things like capture the URL from the browser, and inserts it into an org-mode file, with the text and URL. This is useful for references.

[Update: 2016-06-21 : Here you go]

Which emacs (distribution) do you use ?

Jay settled on railwaycat emacs after trying aquamacs It has a lot of OSX specific functionality like :

  • pinch to zoom
  • swipe to navigate between frames

since spacemacs documentation already suggests this distribution, turns out I was already using it but didn’t know the cool features.

Setting the title of the window

Out of the box, my Emacs window has a boring title like Emacs instead of the filename (Turns out I had not noticed that.) Seems like there is a variable for “fix” that.

I couldn’t catch the details from the video, so I asked him about it, and he was kind enough to respond.

buffer stack

Shows the demo of how to move thru the relevant buffers/file. He has configured it such that buffers like *Messages* are not part of the stack

config files in org-mode

So that they can be well documented/shared. This can be done via org-babel, although being a beginner, I am yet to do that myself.

Closing remarks

I want to Thank Jay for this presentation, and thoughtbot for sharing this video with us.

It is inspiring to see a “non programmer” use emacs so “ably”. As a non-programmer, he brings in a unique point of view.

It is also comforting (for a emacs beginner like myself) that if a non-programmer can make so many customizations, solely depending on the kindness of the emacs community at large, then deciding to learn emacs after being a vim user for 20 years ain’t bad choice.

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