Know your Editor

Most of us (programmers) don’t take the time to learn our editors or IDE.


Some may say, it’s a waste of time or they don’t have the time or they rather learn something else, or memorizing shortcuts is dumb since Editors and IDEs change all the time.

I have heard some people claiming notepad as their ultimate editor. Maybe notepad works for you. Maybe using the mouse on your IDE to get to the correct menu under “tools” > “refactoring” to select “extract method” is acceptable for you.

But what if you dedicated some time today to learn about your editor? You will quickly see how much power you are missing. Don’t stop at the “search and replace” screen, go deeper into templates, automation, shortcuts, git/hg repository management, whatever task is painful for you to perform or repeat. Find a way to make it easier on you, because that’s what editors are for.

How about this?

  • Declare mouse-less Friday.  Nobody can use the mouse on their editors that day.
  • Learn a shortcut a day. Make a big visible chart with the shortcut of the day (or week)
  • Pair program. Of course!
  • Form a study group where you can dive and investigate how to get the most of your editor.
  • Practice, practice, practice. As you type, stop and ask yourself: Is there a better way to type this?

I started using emacs a few months ago. I needed an editor that I could use on OS X, Ubuntu and Windows. It was painful to switch editors depending on the platform. I knew my way around vim a little bit but I wanted to try emacs (maybe this had something to do with it at the time?). Oh, believe me, it was painful to get started and it took some learning before I could do basic work with it. But the effort is still paying off, so I might stay with emacs some more.

And you know, I will always be on the lookout for that awesome shortcut…it does not matter where it hides.