The Most Beautiful Tutorial

Here I am talking about “The Emacs-lisp Intro”. Run you Emacs and press ‘C-h-i’, and select “Emacs Lisp Intro” to read

I read a lot. I used to prefer learning from books, and have a huge collection, 70% of which I haven’t even ever opened (and 95% I have never finished). Many of my reads are related to programming, languages, techniques and frameworks. Over time my preference for learning programming shifted from learning from books to learning from tutorials, documentation and by reading the code itself. I found myself too fickle to stick with one long book and keep myself interested in it. There is so much to explore in the world, whenever I start reading a book, half way through I find something more interesting. Mind is always successful in finding some sort of diversion. For a week ago, I had not find any book or book length tutorial that could keep me with it till the end.

And then I met ‘the Emacs-lisp intro’. It’s the most beautiful book (or tutorial, I don’t know what to call it) I have ever laid my eyes on. It’s more like a compilation of tutorials than a book, but it is so beautifully organized. It is orchestrated in the most perfect way possible, to get the concepts settle in your mind, and not letting you get bored at the same time.

I never felt like lost somewhere

Being a mere mortal, many times when reading programming stuff I get lost in between. Some topics that just don’t enter my head, some things I can’t grasp. Most tuts just get over with it leaving me in half despair. But this one was very well laid out. I never had a feeling of missing something or getting behind.

It held my hand but never spoon fed

Easy tutorials most times are just too easy, their easiness make them boring. This one was easy to flow but challenging. Perfect for me.

I learned to praise lisp and the beauty of parenthesis

The perfect speed with which the things were put forward, and the clarity with which it’s done made me respect lisp much more. I learned so much about how lisp works and how things are done in lisp world without even knowing I was learning them.

If you tried learning a lisp (Clojure?) and found it too difficult, try reading this tutorial

I tried learning Clojure few months back. I got a book and tried, but I failed. There were so many things quite foreign to me, and I decided to put it on the shelf for future. That was the right decision. Reading this tutorial made many things clear, and weird things respectable (like why do ‘let’ statements even exist? I got the best possible answer). I think now I am ready to give Clojure another shot. Reading first few chapters of the same book (Programming Clojure) was so much easier than before.

It made Emacs appear so simple and easy, and powerful

I have been using emacs for few months now (3 or 4 may be). I thought I knew it just fine and that it’s awesome but over-glorified. I was wrong. Emacs is awesome indeed, but I didn’t knew shit about it. And no one can tell you the real glory of Emacs. It’s a path you need to travel yourself to know the feel. It has changed many things in me as a programmer. For one thing, I now feel much more controlled (and like secure in some way (‘cause of my psychotic issues may be)) when doing anything in Emacs.

Fill your mind with tons of ideas, things you want your editor to do

Emacs is known for its ability to customize, everyone knows that. So did I. But no, now I feel I really didn’t know that. There is a whole world of possibilities. There is so much one might desire from their editor and not even know it. Now I realize so many things are wrong with my current setup, so many new things I want Emacs to do. It’s a very good feeling to have.

It was a bliss reading it inside the Emacs

I think it was the most important thing that made me feel so great about this tutorial. Emacs dwarfs every awesome e-book reader I have ever tried. Not because of some fancy, but because I suddenly realized that right way to read about programming is from inside my editor. Even a simple ‘alt-tab’ is too much. Almost all the cases where I would normally copy-paste the code to check something out (I know copy-paste is a bad thing, but lazy me) were replaced with a ‘ctrl-e’. I could execute the code where it was written inside the tutorial, even parts of it. There are browser embedded consoles and stuff which do the similar, but they can never match the experience Emacs gave.

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