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GNU Emacs Manual Richard M Stallman
Published by GNU Press
ISBN:1-88211-485-X
602 pages
£ 25.14
Published: June 2002
reviewed by Roger Whittaker
   in the December 2004 issue (pdf), (html)
bookcover  

This is the printed version of the GNU Emacs Manual which is available in various formats from gnu.org. If you are an Emacs user, then the chances are that you are one of the 90% who use only 10% of the features (or whatever the famous estimated figure is in the case of Emacs). You almost certainly don't regularly type M-x psychoanalyze-pinhead or frequently use the Mayan calendar. Some people find it annoying that features like these are even there: I find them occasional life-enhancing additions to a truly intelligent and powerful text editor.

But there are many genuinely useful features which you may not have come across: some of these can genuinely improve your work efficiency. The best way to find out about them is to leave the paper copy of this book lying around so that you can casually browse it. That being said, you need to be very selective in terms of which features and commands you decide you want to try out and learn, because the book documents so many of them. One feature I came across by casually browsing through the book is the set of commands for splitting and comparing windows which I have fond to be very useful.

The reference card at the end of the book is very useful. The idiosyncratic format of Appendix B (Emacs 20 Antinews) describing (negatively) the differeneces between Emacs versions 20 and 21 ``for those users who live backwards in time'' is typical of the author.

If you use Emacs regularly, it's worth having a copy of this book.

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