I am trying to find the perfect editor for OSX. Actually, I have been trying to find the perfect scheme editor for OSX.
On my windows machine at home i use UltraEdit, which at one point was the ultimate in text editors. At work, I use jEdit, which is excellent , and has a lot of potential. Both of these programs are good at editing source code for PHP, JSP, HTML and PL/B. But in my heart, I knew that when it came to programming Scheme, both of these solutions fell short.
So when I was faced with trying to find an editor I liked for OSX, I immediately jumped to jEdit (being cross platform and all) and I rapidly jumped back. jEdit, while good, just isn't great at editing scheme. Sure there is an R4RS implementation of scheme that hooks into its console, but lets face it, it isn't really that useful. On top of it, its console plugin does NOT like to play nice with the Gambit scheme interpreter. To make matters worse, working with jEdit on OS X didn't feel like working with it on WinXP.
Now let me take a little diversion here. Ever since I have gotten my new PowerBook, I have been sitting in this weird little zone. It is equal parts "Oh Ess Ex? More like Oh! Eh! Sex!" and sitting, quite firmly in the suck threshold. On one hand I am opening terminal windows and hacking like a power user, but on the other, I am running to my more seasoned mac friends to ask how I can use the tab key to switch focus to a button. The overall effect here is that for me to get the simplest jobs done (sometimes) involves a lot of pain and work; this being said, I can imagine switching from OS X to WinXP would be an even worse experience.
So I narrowed my choice down to either TextMate, or Emacs. Now TextMate is the ultimate in slick editors for OS X. It is slick, very OS X in its interface, easy to use... and an absolute pain to work with if you are editing Scheme. Basicly, TextMate has an active community of Ruby, Python and PHP developers doing Ruby, Python and PHP things for TextMate, not Scheme things.
With Emacs, it is quite the opposite. Emacs is de rigeur amongst Scheme developers, so obviously more effort has been made to make it scheme friendly (even allowing for the fact that there are many different implementaitons). The differences don't stop there. While TextMate is flashy, user friendly and OS X like, Emacs, even the latest build for OSX, is not.
So I was faced with inferior editing, in a comfortable (but yet new) OS X style with TextMate; or far superior editing with emacs, but faced with the prospect of not only sucking in OSX, but sucking in a completely different method of editing source code.
Now you might be asking yourself "How different can editing source-code be? Even across WinXP and OS X, its Control (or Command) U for undo, C for copy, X for cut, and V for paste. Right? Right?" Well. No. In Emacs, Undo is done with a Control-/. There is no redo. Instead, undo's are un-done by performing an action (like hitting space-bar), and undoing that, which forces the undo of the undo actions. Essentially every action (hitting a character, deleting a line, or even undoing) puts that action upon a stack, so every action is saved, even actions that were undone. This is a very powerful and slightly confusing concept, but it exactly illustrates emacs. Powerful and Confusing.
Overall my experience thus-far has been good. It is hard work, I still suck at editing Scheme in emacs, but the biggest thing here is that I am the one that is sucking, not my editor. Surely emacs could be built better, perhaps the Headrush folk could build an equally powerful but yet friendlier emacs. But emacs has already given me enough bones to keep slogging away at it. Knowing that I will stop sucking soon also helps.
Thank you very much Andrew! Aquamacs seems to be the perfect combination of OS X app and Emacs. It looks like a good set of "training wheels". What rules the most is that the gambit scheme and paredit modes just work "out of the box".