My thoughts on text editors, and why I think that Kakoune is a very remarkable one

Some time ago I’ve joined this amazing Kakoune community. I like trying out different text editors, and you may remember my post here about Emacs. Since then I’ve tried to organize thoughts on text editors that I’ve tried out through last 6-7 years of my career. This post does contain my thoughts on various text editors, Kakoune included.

Although in the final ranking Kakoune did not got first place, I personally think that Kakoune is a great editor, and is very promising. Want to thank @mawww and all other contributors, plugin authors, and community members, for your amazing work and ideas.


Good article !
But if you discredit sublime for not being open-source, you should do the same with VScode.
VScode is shipped under non-open-source license but based on an open-source MIT project ( like chromium and chrome )

VSCodium might be better on that perspective

Thanks! Yeah, I know about VSCodium project, but for the purpose of the article I’ve used VSCode. VSCodium is simply a pre-built binary without telemetry and other MS presence, it’s not like a fork of VSCode. VSCode itself technically is open source, since all of it’s sources are present on GitHub and licensed under MIT, it’s just custom configuration being applied by Microsoft via customized product.json file, and different license is used for the resulting binary. So yes, VSCodium is a better alternative, but it it essentially VSCode.

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I agree with a lot of things in the post but personally, I don’t think Kakoune is more barebones than vim.

Indeed, I set up a personal server recently and I installed Kakoune in it, but I was very excited to start doing what I wanted and I didn’t bother downloading my configuration from github. As I was editing some files with a fresh kakoune install, I re-realized that it works as I want/expect out of the box. Sure, I didn’t have some of my common shortcuts configured, but it felt so comfortable that I delayed downloading my configuration many days and focused on more important things.

In contrast, the first time I went to use vim I really needed to change a lot of default settings. For instance, colors may not work properly while using tmux.

I believe the real reason to recommend vim over kakoune is that vim is POSIX and it is installed in most servers. It is up to personal decision whether this is important enough for you.

Even before reading your post I knew that the top two would be Emacs and Kakoune :grinning:, and I also knew you would put Emacs first :grinning:. Two questions.

  1. It seems you take notes in Emacs but code mainly in Kakoune. Doesn’t this imply that the relative strengths of Emacs and Kakoune depend on the type of task (prose vs. code writing, two rather different tasks covered under the umbrella of “text editing”)?

  2. Related, but more important: (a) in your view, are there some intrinsic design flaws/limitations in Kakoune that would impede it from moving first and topping Emacs? Or (b) could Kakoune eventually move first, with a sufficiently rich plugin ecosystem?

(My wish is (b)).


by barebones I’ve meant that Vim has full fledged windowing system, filetree, recursive search, intelligent file jumping with gf, abbreviations, smarttab, and many more features, that enhance editing experience in different ways. Kakoune also comes with a set of useful packages, like completions and ctags, and make, but still has less than Vim. If you look up my dotfiles, you’ll see that I’ve implemented many functions from vim in my kakrc, and wrote some plugins that are builtin in Vim.

Just like in Kakoune :slight_smile:

Well, Kakoune is even more posix, it is not preinstalled yet though.

Not quite. I mainly write code, write blog, generate static site, generate PDF/ODT/LaTeX, do notes, do agenda, handle git, read blogs, read RSS, from Emacs :slight_smile:

I use Kakoune on my phone because modal editing is much more usable on small screen and touch keyboard compared to shortcut chording. I’ve tried modal interfaces in Emacs and it’s not that good. I also use Kakoune when I need to do something that Emacs multiple cursors can’t do, or too slow to do.

Well, I think that Kakoune or Vim can’t beat Emacs, because Emacs is application platform, not simply text editor. Kakoune can beat Vim, and only thing it really needs, IMO, is more quality plugins. And multiple info boxes that are capable of general rendering (have same as buffer capabilities)

That’s true, but it’s also because kakoune tries to be minimalist and rely on external tools. In addittion, although vim adds those features it’s usually very hard to learn to use all of them from the beginning.

Actually, it was working for me. Perhaps the colors were just slightly off and I didn’t notice :thinking:.

And I doubt it will be in the near future.