Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Learning New Tools

I sometimes wonder which is more complex, in the information theory sense: the functioning of a given vital organ or the functioning of a modern IDE.  In the case of Emacs, I would tend to favor the the IDE.

I learned vi in college; because, truthfully, it was the default editor for elm, and I wanted to send email.  Most other folks used pine, but I didn't hear about that for a while.  Anyway, that was how it began, and I came to love vi and later vim.  This loved flowered even after I found out Bill Joy wrote it, probably because he hated Emacs.

Now, there are a few flawed attempts to bring syntax highlighting and indenting for Erlang to my favorite little editor, but they're far from perfect.  There's even an aborted attempt to bring Erlang to Eclipse.  Alas, it too is seriously flawed.  It would seem that most of the Erlang programming universe writes code in Emacs.

I've never been a joiner, and I wore my iconoclastic editor as a badge of honor.  Now, however, I've resolved to follow the pack and learn Emacs.  As a side benefit, it would appear that I'll be learning a little Lisp along the way, well elisp at least, more out of necessity than desire.

What bugs me is that I don't really want to learn Emacs, I'd rather spend that time exploring OTP. But, c'est la vie!  It will just take some time to become proficient.

At work these days I'm learning the ins-and-outs of BizTalk.  This, too, is less than ideal.  BizTalk is really powerful, very enterprise-y message-oriented middleware.  Truthfully, I wouldn't mind it so much if its development tools had any notion of refactoring.  The whole thing just seems to brittle, and could there be a more miserable way to spend ones time mapping messages types?