Press releases

"Learning GNU Emacs, Third Edition": A Guide to the World's Most Extensible, Customizable Editor

Press release: January 5, 2005

Sebastopol, CA--There's not a lot you can't say about Emacs: it's the most powerful text editor available today. Unlike most editors (and in particular, unlike the standard Unix editor, vi), Emacs is a complete working environment. As the authors of the new edition of Learning GNU Emacs (Cameron, Elliott, Loy, Raymond, and Rosenblatt, O'Reilly, US $39.95) explain, "No matter what you do, you can start Emacs in the morning, work all day and all night, and never leave it: you can use it to edit, rename, delete, and organize files; to compile programs; to run shell commands; and so on." Before windowing systems like X and Microsoft Windows became popular, Emacs often served as a complete windowing system of its own. All you needed was a terminal, and you could live within Emacs forever.

Why, then, read a book on Emacs? Because it does so much, Emacs has a reputation for being extremely complicated. The authors of Learning GNU Emacs, Third Edition don't believe that's warranted. They teach Emacs from the ground up, covering first the basics and then some of the more advanced features.

The third edition has been completely revised and expanded to meet the evolving needs of Emacs users, from beginner to advanced. The book includes updated support for C++, Lisp, Perl, SQL, and Java language modes, including the Java Development Environment for Emacs (JDEE).

Readers will learn how to customize Emacs interactively through a feature called Custom, as well as through tweaking the startup file. The book helps you tailor Emacs to both your data and your workflow. You'll learn how to use syntax highlighting, how to edit columns of data, how quick macros eliminate repetitive work, how to manage large projects using version control, and much more. Most importantly, you'll see why Emacs should be your editor of choice and how it can increase your productivity.

Learning GNU Emacs covers Emacs on all major operating systems, including a new chapter on running the latest version of Emacs on Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X. The book provides:

  • A tutorial approach to learning Emacs
  • Tables of commands and a removable card for easy reference
  • Details on coding support for C/C++, Lisp, Java, and Perl
  • Information on HTML and XML authoring
  • An introduction to Lisp programming
  • Specifics on using version control with CVS, RCS, SCCS, and Subversion
  • Most importantly, the book makes learning Emacs simple. Whether you're an experienced Emacs hacker or have never tried Emacs, you'll find a wealth of detailed, up-to-date information on this powerful editor.

    Praise for the previous edition:

    "I had wanted to try Emacs for a while, but due to a couple of problems I had, I had never bothered delving too far. The primary problem for me was getting Emacs to word wrap properly, using whole words instead of placing hyphens in the middle of a word. This was the first thing I looked up in Learning GNU Emacs. Within about five minutes, not including the time it took to download and reinstall Emacs, which had been deleted due to extreme frustration with this word wrap thing, it was working. Lovely. All thanks to this book. I decided to delve deeper and see what other secrets the book held."
    --Steve Coe, Canada Computes, November 2000

    "As usual, O'Reilly is your one-stop shopping center for printed references. Learning GNU Emacs will give you a firm grounding in all of Emacs' basic features, as well as a tour of its more advanced features."
    --Jeff Clites, MACTech, December 2001

    Further reviews can be found here.

    Additional Resources:

    Learning GNU Emacs, Third Edition
    Debra Cameron, James Elliott, Marc Loy, Eric Raymond, and Bill Rosenblatt
    ISBN: 0-596-00648-9, 509 pages, $39.95 US, $57.95 CA
    1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

    About O’Reilly

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