Customising your emacs is the number one thing which makes it interesting, and you can spend hours fiddling with everything. Recently, I’ve had to delve into two courses for ReactJS and React Native. Of course, nobody teaches a course using Emacs - they usually go the Atom, Microsoft Visual Studio, or other “popular” editor routes (don’t want to terrify the newbies with more words on the screen than they can handle, after all). That’s fine, as most people are used to GUI these days. Heck, I was until I encountered Spacemacs and then Emacs.
This teacher, of course, uses MS Visual Studio, but as all good teachers, he recommends that you use whichever IDE/editor you are most comfortable with (the hallmark of a good teacher). He even mentions Sublime Text, which is one of my favorites, and which I might still get soon simply because it’s lovely and all the hallmarks of being Emacs’ little GUI brother or sister. That and the fact that I might need something to use which I can show people things in which doesn’t scare them away when I demo stuff might be a good idea, and the packages and interface are to die for - as is the speed.
However, as this teacher relies heavily on the sidebar in MS Visual Studio, I finally caved - I had to install one. It took me all morning to decide which one. For some reason, Treemacs was giving me all kinds of problems - some of which I fixed, but in the end it was taking too much time to debug all of it. So then I tried Dired Sidebar which looked amazingly promising. Indeed, I was actually pretty excited. The fact that it’s actually just a sort of dired instance running in a sidebar means you’re getting all the great tried and true dired stuff pre-packaged and already in your config without having to install extra packages and configure them.
And that’s when the bad stuff happened. That’s when you realise that it’s a very, very, good thing that you make backups of your important files - which I do. Because, and I’m not sure why, Dired Sidebar started messing with my stuff in a bad way. It was such a bad way that I couldn’t actually get back into my config.org to fix it - thank goodness for plain text editing and terminals. It kept wanting to save and re-read my setup (because that’s where I had pulled it up to test it) and I wouldn’t let it do it. It had “cancelled” org mode on that file, wouldn’t accept other modes, and gave me some sort of weird hex code errors in the console. Not sure what was going on and it’s a shame, because I really wanted to use it. I still think it probably works and I must have something conflicting with it, but since it was basically freezing up my entire Emacs setup, I wasn’t in the mood to try to figure it out at the time. I just edited it out and restarted and all was well. It looked like a bit touch and go there for a while though because it kept wanting to change that startup file and that would have been very annoying. Fortunately, however (as I said), I do have lots of backups.
Then, in the end, I installed Neotree. And what a nice little thing it is. So now I have a sidebar which I can use for the course whilst editing my JS files - complete with icons from All The Icons, and it looks quite handy indeed. I’ll have to get used to seeing icons in Emacs but I do see the utility of it.