Org Mode Is A Good Reason To Use Emacs

For those unaware Emacs is a very powerful editor with a ton of features that can be used for developing code in practically any language to writing documents in latex.  Its popularity stems from the fact that it can be extended and customized for pretty much any editing task.  At its core there is an interpreter for Emacs Lisp, a dialect of the Lisp programming language with extensions to support text editing that makes it very powerful.  To take full advantage of Emacs  requires some knowledge of Emacs Lisp but it is something well worth learning.  As you can imagine Emacs has a big learning curve but once learned its productivity and usefulness is unparalleled.  My learning of Emacs has barely scratched the surface at this point.   I still need more familiarity with Emacs lisp myself but it hasn’t stopped me from taking advantage and using Emacs as my primary editor.  One thing still on my TODO list is to read the “Introduction to Programming in Emacs Lisp”.  I suggest if you want to learn more about Emacs there is a useful guided tour to give you a flavour of it’s text editing capabilities and commands.

Today I just wanted to highlight one of  the most useful features of Emacs and that is Org mode.  Basically, org mode is for keeping notes, maintaining TODO lists, planning projects and authoring documents with a fast and effective plain-text system. I’ve known about org mode for some time.  I was initially impressed by it when I saw this video presentation by Carsten Dominik from 2008 showing off org mode.  However, I did not grasp it’s full power, beauty and flexibility until this summer when I watched a series of tutorial Youtube videos by Rainer König demonstrating how org mode could be used as a system for note taking, organizing, planning and pretty much getting things done à la David Allen’s Getting Things Done.  From scheduling, to keeping track of deadlines, to its agenda system and time tracking org mode has many extensive capabilities.  I certainly suggest everyone watch Rainer König’s tutorial videos because they do a great job explaining org mode.  I am posting the links to the videos below so I can come back to them myself and re-watch them as necessary until i firmly grasp all aspects of org mode.

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