Are there technical reasons why Emacs is better than an IDE?

Discussion in 'VHDL' started by Philippe Faes, Jun 27, 2011.

  1. It is no secret that Sigasi wants to take on Emacs and the Emacs VHDL
    mode. I have posted several articles about the fundamental differences
    between Emacs and Sigasi: http://www.sigasi.com/emacs
    It usually boils down to the limitations of regular expressions and
    pattern matching. There are just certain things that require a parser
    rather than a simple pattern matcher.

    To end my series of blog posts about Emacs vs. Eclipse/Sigasi, I am
    interested to hear what you think: are there any _technical_ reasons
    why Emacs is still better than an IDE solution? Or is it just a matter
    of "I love this tool and nobody is going to deny me my rights?"

    http://www.sigasi.com/content/room-improvement

    thanks

    Philippe

    --
    Philippe Faes
    http://www.sigasi.com
    Philippe Faes, Jun 27, 2011
    #1
    1. Advertising

  2. In comp.emacs Philippe Faes <> wrote:
    > It is no secret that Sigasi ....


    Who? What?

    > .... wants to take on Emacs and the Emacs VHDL mode.


    Emacs is free software. Anybody may take it on.

    > I have posted several articles about the fundamental differences
    > between Emacs and Sigasi: http://www.sigasi.com/emacs It usually boils
    > down to the limitations of regular expressions and pattern matching.


    "It"? Differences come down to limitations? Sir, you are not expressing
    yourself at all clearly.

    > There are just certain things that require a parser rather than a
    > simple pattern matcher.


    Of course there are. What's new? Arbitrarily nested structures (think
    program source) cannot be parsed by regexps. Try using a push-down
    automaton.

    > To end my series of blog posts about Emacs vs. Eclipse/Sigasi, I am
    > interested to hear what you think: are there any _technical_ reasons
    > why Emacs is still better than an IDE solution?


    Yes.

    > Or is it just a matter of "I love this tool and nobody is going to deny
    > me my rights?"


    Hmmm. On comp.emacs. You wouldn't happen to be trolling, now, would
    you?

    > http://www.sigasi.com/content/room-improvement


    > thanks


    > Philippe


    > --
    > Philippe Faes
    > http://www.sigasi.com


    --
    Alan Mackenzie (Nuremberg, Germany).
    Alan Mackenzie, Jun 27, 2011
    #2
    1. Advertising

  3. On 6/27/2011 4:06 AM, Philippe Faes wrote:
    > It is no secret that Sigasi wants to take on Emacs and the Emacs VHDL
    > mode. I have posted several articles about the fundamental differences
    > between Emacs and Sigasi: http://www.sigasi.com/emacs
    > It usually boils down to the limitations of regular expressions and
    > pattern matching. There are just certain things that require a parser
    > rather than a simple pattern matcher.


    The full language is hard for a parser as well,
    but all you need to cover are the parts
    that my simulator can't feed back.

    I am most interested in clean sim interfaces
    and makefile generation because my simulator
    is already good and fast at marking errors in
    syntax (vcom -c a_unit) and
    elaboration (vsim -c a_unit).

    Getting these errors fed back to emacs vhdl-mode
    requires careful configuration and a few custom
    elisp functions. This seems to be an area where
    you might have an advantage.


    > To end my series of blog posts about Emacs vs. Eclipse/Sigasi, I am
    > interested to hear what you think: are there any _technical_ reasons
    > why Emacs is still better than an IDE solution? Or is it just a matter
    > of "I love this tool and nobody is going to deny me my rights?"


    In any case, there are many fewer emacs users than non-users,
    so you have a good chance.

    -- Mike Treseler
    Mike Treseler, Jun 28, 2011
    #3
  4. On Jun 27, 4:06 am, Philippe Faes <> wrote:
    > It is no secret that Sigasi wants to take on Emacs and the Emacs VHDL
    > mode. I have posted several articles about the fundamental differences
    > between Emacs and Sigasi:http://www.sigasi.com/emacs
    > It usually boils down to the limitations of regular expressions and
    > pattern matching. There are just certain things that require a parser
    > rather than a simple pattern matcher.
    >
    > To end my series of blog posts about Emacs vs. Eclipse/Sigasi, I am
    > interested to hear what you think: are there any _technical_ reasons
    > why Emacs is still better than an IDE solution? Or is it just a matter
    > of "I love this tool and nobody is going to deny me my rights?"
    >
    > http://www.sigasi.com/content/room-improvement
    >
    > thanks
    >
    > Philippe
    >
    > --
    > Philippe Faeshttp://www.sigasi.com


    Just a few off the top:
    1) emacs can be run in batch mode, so all of the 'AUTOs' can be
    updated at once.
    2) emacs is a much more powerful editor. There are times you NEED
    rectangle cut/paste.
    3) emacs developers don't spam usenet.

    I prefer less volatile discussions than editor choices - religion and
    politics are typically less incendiary.
    NeedCleverHandle, Jun 29, 2011
    #4
  5. Le 27/06/2011 13:06, Philippe Faes a écrit :

    > To end my series of blog posts about Emacs vs. Eclipse/Sigasi, I am
    > interested to hear what you think: are there any _technical_ reasons
    > why Emacs is still better than an IDE solution? Or is it just a matter
    > of "I love this tool and nobody is going to deny me my rights?"


    Emacs can do soooooo many more things than VHDL editing.
    Why use a different IDE for each language ?

    Nicolas
    Nicolas Matringe, Jun 29, 2011
    #5
  6. Philippe Faes

    Jan Decaluwe Guest

    On 06/29/2011 10:03 PM, Nicolas Matringe wrote:
    > Le 27/06/2011 13:06, Philippe Faes a écrit :
    >
    >> To end my series of blog posts about Emacs vs. Eclipse/Sigasi, I am
    >> interested to hear what you think: are there any _technical_ reasons
    >> why Emacs is still better than an IDE solution? Or is it just a matter
    >> of "I love this tool and nobody is going to deny me my rights?"

    >
    > Emacs can do soooooo many more things than VHDL editing.
    > Why use a different IDE for each language ?


    That is not the proposal, quite the opposite. The proposal is
    to use Eclipse as the IDE, and Sigasi HDT as its "VHDL mode".

    Jan

    --
    Jan Decaluwe - Resources bvba - http://www.jandecaluwe.com
    Python as a HDL: http://www.myhdl.org
    VHDL development, the modern way: http://www.sigasi.com
    World-class digital design: http://www.easics.com
    Jan Decaluwe, Jun 30, 2011
    #6
  7. Philippe Faes

    Jan Decaluwe Guest

    On 06/29/2011 09:02 PM, NeedCleverHandle wrote:
    > On Jun 27, 4:06 am, Philippe Faes<> wrote:
    >> It is no secret that Sigasi wants to take on Emacs and the Emacs VHDL
    >> mode. I have posted several articles about the fundamental differences
    >> between Emacs and Sigasi:http://www.sigasi.com/emacs
    >> It usually boils down to the limitations of regular expressions and
    >> pattern matching. There are just certain things that require a parser
    >> rather than a simple pattern matcher.
    >>
    >> To end my series of blog posts about Emacs vs. Eclipse/Sigasi, I am
    >> interested to hear what you think: are there any _technical_ reasons
    >> why Emacs is still better than an IDE solution? Or is it just a matter
    >> of "I love this tool and nobody is going to deny me my rights?"
    >>
    >> http://www.sigasi.com/content/room-improvement
    >>
    >> thanks
    >>
    >> Philippe
    >>
    >> --
    >> Philippe Faeshttp://www.sigasi.com

    >
    > Just a few off the top:
    > 1) emacs can be run in batch mode, so all of the 'AUTOs' can be
    > updated at once.


    The fact that you actually need 'AUTOs' (?) and batch mode shows that
    a more powerful IDE may be quite useful.

    > 2) emacs is a much more powerful editor. There are times you NEED
    > rectangle cut/paste.


    Whatever it is in emacs, this is certainly not easier than
    'Toggle Block Selection' (Shift+Alt+A).

    > 3) emacs developers don't spam usenet.


    This is on-topic content, written on a specific occasion by real
    people. Calling it spam just because you thoroughly dislike the
    message is a little cheap.

    Jan

    --
    Jan Decaluwe - Resources bvba - http://www.jandecaluwe.com
    Python as a HDL: http://www.myhdl.org
    VHDL development, the modern way: http://www.sigasi.com
    World-class digital design: http://www.easics.com
    Jan Decaluwe, Jun 30, 2011
    #7
  8. On 27 Jun., 13:06, Philippe Faes <> wrote:
    > To end my series of blog posts about Emacs vs. Eclipse/Sigasi, I am
    > interested to hear what you think: are there any _technical_ reasons
    > why Emacs is still better than an IDE solution? Or is it just a matter
    > of "I love this tool and nobody is going to deny me my rights?"


    Maybe it is just the fact that emacs is for free and good enough, so
    why bother about Sigasi?
    I assume you already included open script interface in your sigasi
    tool to be at least on the obvious parts on-pair with emacs, but as
    long as I'm fine with gnu tool, I see no reason to check alternatives
    every 6 months.
    Thomas Stanka, Jun 30, 2011
    #8
  9. Thank you all for your input.

    The technical arguments I hear are:

    Mike Treseler wrote:
    > The full language is hard for a parser as well,
    > but all you need to cover are the parts
    > that my simulator can't feed back.

    Some editor features require a full parser (and: yes, it is hard),
    including correct navigation and refactoring.

    > I am most interested in clean sim interfaces
    > and makefile generation […]

    Duly noted. Sigasi offers some of this, but we know we still need to
    improve on this.

    NeedCleverHandle wrote:
    > 1) emacs can be run in batch mode, so all of the 'AUTOs' can be
    > updated at once.

    Note that you are bringing up Verilog as opposed to VHDL now.
    This particular use case (automatic template expansion in Verilog)
    would be a good argument for interactive tools rather than batch
    processing. Checking and updating sensitivity list is something that
    can easily be done interactively.

    If you want to discuss any specific other use cases for batch mode,
    I'll be happy to dig deeper into this subject.

    > 2) emacs is a much more powerful editor. There are times you NEED
    > rectangle cut/paste.

    As Jan Decaluwe points out, Eclipse supports block editing. I am
    interested to learn of other features that make Emacs a much more
    powerful editor.

    Nicolas Matringe wrote:
    > Emacs can do soooooo many more things than VHDL editing.
    > Why use a different IDE for each language ?

    Again as Jan points out: that is exactly my point. The Eclipse
    platform will offer a wide range of language-specific plug-ins to
    choose from.

    Ted Zlatanov (received this by email) wrote:
    > Emacs has very capable parsers built-in.  Whether VHDL editing needs
    > them is not clear; [...]

    Emacs has a very capable regex matcher, but not a VHDL parser.
    A built-in parser enables several things such as semantic highlighting
    and correct navigation. As I pointed out in my original post, I have
    discussed this at length elsewhere.

    I'll throw in one myself:
    Sorting lines alphabetically is a pain in Eclipse. There are some not-
    so-stable or not-so-recent plugins that support this feature, but
    people usually don't install a new plugin just to get one simple
    operation.

    Any other thoughts are still more than welcome.

    -- Philippe
    Philippe Faes, Jun 30, 2011
    #9
  10. Read "Beautiful Architecture" [1] chapter on emacs for a good look at
    how and why emacs is great, and how it compares to other architectures,
    namely Eclipse and Firefox.


    [1] http://oreilly.com/catalog/9780596517984
    Chapter 11 GNU Emacs: Creeping Featurism Is a Strength
    William Stevenson, Jun 30, 2011
    #10
  11. On 30 jun, 21:12, William Stevenson <> wrote:
    > Read "Beautiful Architecture" [1] chapter on emacs for a good look at
    > how and why emacs is great, and how it compares to other architectures,
    > namely Eclipse and Firefox.
    >
    > [1]http://oreilly.com/catalog/9780596517984
    >     Chapter 11 GNU Emacs: Creeping Featurism Is a Strength


    I looked it up and I quote:
    "As a development environment, Eclipse provides valuable features that
    Emacs lacks. For example, the Java Development Tools plug-ins provide
    extensive support for refactoring and code analysis. In comparison,
    Emacs has only a limited understanding of the semantic structure of
    the programs it edit and can't offer comparable support."
    Lieven Lemiengre, Jul 1, 2011
    #11
  12. Hi everyone,

    One thing I have trouble understanding is the following. Designers
    typically spend way more time debugging VHDL code, running
    simulations, debugging "real" hardware than writing actual code.
    Therefore, I have trouble understanding why comparing Sigasi to Emacs
    is so important? A lot of the Emacs feature are basically tools to
    write code faster (code completion, sensitivity list updating, etc.).
    Even If I write code 10% faster, this is probably the equivalent of a
    driver speeding up only to being forced to stop because the light is
    red. The analogy is imperfect, but basically in real life I'm limited
    by the simulation speed of my simulator, I'm limited by the synthesis/
    p&r of Xilinx/Altera/etc. I'm limited by real-life issues like a
    faulty board, unclear specifications, project management, etc. Rarely
    have I felt limited by notepad++ even though it is a simple code
    editor with syntax highlighting.

    I agree than Sigasi looks interesting from a code refactoring, project
    management and code comprehension perspective but less so from a
    "writing code faster point of view". What would be important for me,
    is good integration with Xilinx (or Altera) and good integration with
    Modelsim (or Aldec).

    Just my 2 cents.

    Benjamin
    Benjamin Couillard, Jul 5, 2011
    #12
  13. On 7/5/2011 2:22 AM, Benjamin Couillard wrote:
    > Hi everyone,
    >
    > One thing I have trouble understanding is the following. Designers
    > typically spend way more time debugging VHDL code, running
    > simulations, debugging "real" hardware than writing actual code.


    How do you debug your code? Isn't this process of "debugging real
    hardware" just a matter of reading your code and understanding what it
    is doing? After all if the hardware doesn't work (except for
    pathological cases of bad pcb/pca, see later) is just because you wrote
    something wrong.
    From this perspective having an editor that helps you out in the process
    of reading and editing your file is definitely a powerful tool.

    Would you write code with notepad? or a word processor? or with a pen
    and paper?
    If the answer is no (as I presume), than the added value of a smart
    editor is not negligible.

    > Therefore, I have trouble understanding why comparing Sigasi to Emacs
    > is so important? A lot of the Emacs feature are basically tools to
    > write code faster (code completion, sensitivity list updating, etc.).
    > Even If I write code 10% faster, this is probably the equivalent of a
    > driver speeding up only to being forced to stop because the light is
    > red. The analogy is imperfect, but basically in real life I'm limited
    > by the simulation speed of my simulator, I'm limited by the synthesis/
    > p&r of Xilinx/Altera/etc.


    That is why you should spend more time reading and editing the file
    rather than running simulation.
    If you try to write an ARM architecture full of peripherals and then
    assume your simulation will run through and spot all the problems then I
    understand your frustration, but I also believe the approach is wrong.

    Project segmentation is a very old technique that is always applicable.
    Make your components generic enough to be reusable, not too small
    otherwise you will loose the overview of your design and you will
    clutter the code with components instantiation. Not to big otherwise you
    will loose valuable details of the design (usually the brain is the best
    tool to decide where to put the boundary).
    At this point test your components individually with a dedicated test
    bench (try "C-c C-p C-t" on emacs and then let's review your 10% speed
    increase) in order to trust your basic elements of your design. Only
    then you can more reliably move to the next step of connecting the
    components together, to build a bigger piece.

    Usually this approach force the designer to think about the interface
    between the components and maybe try to make it standard (like a bus).
    So the outcome of this process is not only more reliable, but enable the
    designer to build a mental toolbox of "good practices" rather than
    "dirty tricks".

    > I'm limited by real-life issues like a
    > faulty board, unclear specifications, project management, etc. Rarely
    > have I felt limited by notepad++ even though it is a simple code
    > editor with syntax highlighting.


    The faulty board, unclear specifications, project management, etc. issue
    are certainly part of the process.
    This is why your work flow should be such that the PCB is going through
    a verified building process, your PCA is visually inspected and your
    components are previously screened for "infant mortality" before you can
    even think about testing anything.

    About the unclear specification that is certainly something you need to
    work out earlier with your customer, otherwise you'll be off doing
    something different from what he/she had in mind. And this has nothing
    to do with the hardware at all. Same conclusion applies to the project
    management problems which are not a good reason to justify your faulty
    design (even though they maybe blamed for an incomplete one).

    My background comes from antifuse-logic, where one chip programmed is
    certainly one chip thrown away if you don't verify your code. Code
    review and also "rubber duck debugging" are most of the times very good
    practices that helps you out in getting rid of clumsy and unmaintainable
    implementations.
    I understand that it's tempting sometime to "load it and see if it
    works", but if you face all the problems at once you may get in real
    trouble with your schedule. IMHO this temptation is mostly due to the
    volatility of the work, which comes from the nature of the hardware
    used. The so called firmware we load in fpgas is similar to software
    from an "easy to change" standpoint and this affect deeply the mindset
    we have in the design and implementation phase.
    Should you pay from your own pocket every time you release a version
    that needs to be one time programmed on a chip at a cost of several K$ I
    bet my salary you would definitely go back and thoroughly review your
    process to make sure you don't miss anything anywhere and if you do I
    bet the second salary you will try to understand what you did wrong the
    first time.

    >
    > I agree than Sigasi looks interesting from a code refactoring, project
    > management and code comprehension perspective but less so from a
    > "writing code faster point of view". What would be important for me,
    > is good integration with Xilinx (or Altera) and good integration with
    > Modelsim (or Aldec).
    >


    Code refactoring is not the only motivation for a good editor. Browsing
    capabilities in the components structure is extremely important since it
    allows you to navigate your source in a faster and more efficient way,
    leaving you the time to think about the problem, as opposed to the
    simulation where you need to go for a coffee or maybe two, since you are
    "waiting" for the result.
    Spending more time with your editor will also allow you to write better
    maintainable code, since if you do have some sense of aesthetic you will
    find that a poorly written code is poorly maintainable also.

    > Just my 2 cents.
    >


    In response to the OP I have to say that having an editor instead of a
    tool is way much better, since editing is something that is part of our
    daily work and every time we use the editor we learn better how to use
    it, regardless of the mode.
    Alessandro Basili, Jul 5, 2011
    #13
  14. Sorry for raising a doubt about Emacs, won't happen again...
    Benjamin Couillard, Jul 5, 2011
    #14
  15. On 2011-06-27, Philippe Faes <> wrote:
    > To end my series of blog posts about Emacs vs. Eclipse/Sigasi, I am
    > interested to hear what you think: are there any _technical_ reasons
    > why Emacs is still better than an IDE solution? Or is it just a matter
    > of "I love this tool and nobody is going to deny me my rights?"


    Well, I think I could characterize myself as a fairly competent Emacs
    user. However, just for fun I have just downloaded Sigasi 2.0 to look
    into whether it could replace Emacs for my VHDL editing tasks.

    However, do be aware that I've used Emacs as my main editor since
    about 1998. So this is not likely to be a very fair comparison since I
    haven't used Sigasi for more than an hour or so by following the
    tutorial and trying it on one of my own VHDL projects.

    What follows are some notes from my testing and what I find missing as
    compared to Emacs. Of course, some of these features may be present
    but not working in exactly the same way as in Emacs which is why I
    didn't find them.

    * When using Emacs I can just type "emacs filename.vhd" (or an alias
    for emacsclient if I expect that I will need to look into a lot of
    different files using the same editor instance).

    I'm not sure how to do this in Sigasi. Merely typing sigasi
    filename.vhd doesn't seem to work at least and sigasi -h or sigasi
    --help didn't give me any indication that it is possible to do this
    from the commandline easily.

    * It was fairly easy to find and enable the Emacs key scheme which
    made it quite a bit more comfortable to use for me. Good.

    * Incremental search worked as expected when pressing C-s and
    C-r. However, some useful commands in Emacs are not present. Of this
    the greatest loss is C-w (which adds the string following the cursor
    to the search string). Very convenient when you want to search for
    the word you are currently looking at. Nevertheless, merely the
    presence of an easy to use incremental search is a big plus.

    * Ctrl-g didn't work to abort a search and return to the start
    location of the search as expected. However, Ctrl-x Ctrl-x worked as
    expected which is good.

    * I use M-q in Emacs all the time when writing text (for example in
    the form of comments) to make sure that the text is nicely aligned
    and doesn't exceed a user configurable number of characters per
    line. (Usually a little less than 80.) In Sigasi M-q doesn't seem to
    do anything.

    * There doesn't seem to be any kill ring functionality. (Or similar
    history functionality for other commands such as search.)

    * The keys for rectangular cut and paste and string rectangle don't do
    anything. (Neither the standard keybindings nor the cua-mode version
    where you press ctrl-enter to start a rectangular selection.)

    * I couldn't find any keyboard macro functionality :( This is actually
    a really big issue for me. If you don't have macros you can't do a
    lot of really really neat tricks. While I don't use keybaord macros
    every day, they can really save you a lot of work in some
    situations. See the following youtube clip for some inspiration:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zropjwVQlWQ&NR=1

    * C-x C-b worked to select the buffer as expected. Good! (However, it
    is not as powerful as iswitchb-mode in Emacs.)

    * I turned off the Emacs keybindings to enable the use of C-SPACE
    for template insertion. I'm somewhat skeptical about how these are
    implemented, but I admit that this may be because I'm not used to
    them.

    * After trying out C-SPACE I changed the keys back to Emacs again. But
    this change didn't seem to take effect. Perhaps I did something
    wrong? A restart of Sigasi didn't fix it either.

    * When opening an existing design which included components written in
    both VHDL and Verilog there was no support for Verilog at all in the
    editor. (Since I use both Verilog and VHDL fairly frequently this is
    an issue for me. If you use Verilog rarely it may not be a big
    problem though.)

    All in all, Sigasi seems to be a major step up as compared to some
    other VHDL editing solutions (for example, I'd much rather use Sigasi
    than the ISE text editor). However, it will not replace Emacs for me
    anytime soon I'm afraid.

    The main reason why it is very hard to get me to change from Emacs to
    some other editor is that my entire workflow is based around
    Emacs. This allows me to utilize the same skill set regardless of
    whether I edit Verilog, VHDL, HTML, C, shell script, or MP3
    files. (Yes, I have done some simple editing of MP3 files in Emacs in
    some situations.)

    In addition to text editing I'm also using Emacs for reading mail,
    organizing my schedule, and dealing with my TODO-list. I often find
    myself running a shell from within Emacs as well. (The unix shell
    running in split screen with a scratch buffer in Emacs can do some
    really powerful things when combined with macros.)

    I could probably spend another hour here merely listing some nice
    Emacs tricks but I think I'll end here by wishing you good luck. While
    I don't expect many die hard Emacs users to switch to Sigasi I think
    you may have a good chance of snatching up people who only use Emacs
    for VHDL editing.

    regards
    /Andreas
    Andreas Ehliar, Jul 12, 2011
    #15
  16. On Jul 12, 5:47 pm, Andreas Ehliar <> wrote:
    > Well, I think I could characterize myself as a fairly competent Emacs
    > user. However, just for fun I have just downloaded Sigasi 2.0 to look
    > into whether it could replace Emacs for my VHDL editing tasks.
    >
    > However, do be aware that I've used Emacs as my main editor since
    > about 1998. So this is not likely to be a very fair comparison since I
    > haven't used Sigasi for more than an hour or so by following the
    > tutorial and trying it on one of my own VHDL projects.


    Andreas, thank you for your in-depth evaluation. It seems you have
    focussed on text editing and search operations. Obviously, the tool
    you have known for years will give you better results.

    I'm not sure if you have looked at type-time compilation (with error
    checking), and other advanced VHDL-specific features (navigation,
    hovers, refactoring). If anybody is to be convinced of dropping Emacs,
    it would be because of those features.

    > What follows are some notes from my testing and what I find missing as
    > compared to Emacs. Of course, some of these features may be present
    > but not working in exactly the same way as in Emacs which is why I
    > didn't find them.
    >
    > * When using Emacs I can just type "emacs filename.vhd" (or an alias
    >   for emacsclient if I expect that I will need to look into a lot of
    >   different files using the same editor instance).
    >
    >   I'm not sure how to do this in Sigasi. Merely typing sigasi
    >   filename.vhd doesn't seem to work at least and sigasi -h or sigasi
    >   --help didn't give me any indication that it is possible to do this
    >   from the commandline easily.


    We'll get that working soon. Thanks for pointing it out.

    >
    > * It was fairly easy to find and enable the Emacs key scheme which
    >   made it quite a bit more comfortable to use for me. Good.


    Thanks

    > * Incremental search worked as expected when pressing C-s and
    >   C-r. However, some useful commands in Emacs are not present. Of this
    >   the greatest loss is C-w (which adds the string following the cursor
    >   to the search string). Very convenient when you want to search for
    >   the word you are currently looking at. Nevertheless, merely the
    >   presence of an easy to use incremental search is a big plus.
    >
    > * Ctrl-g didn't work to abort a search and return to the start
    >   location of the search as expected. However, Ctrl-x Ctrl-x worked as
    >   expected which is good.
    >
    > * I use M-q in Emacs all the time when writing text (for example in
    >   the form of comments) to make sure that the text is nicely aligned
    >   and doesn't exceed a user configurable number of characters per
    >   line. (Usually a little less than 80.) In Sigasi M-q doesn't seem to
    >   do anything.


    Code formatting is mapped to CTRL+SHIFT+F. Remappable, though.

    > * There doesn't seem to be any kill ring functionality. (Or similar
    >   history functionality for other commands such as search.)


    Not that I know of...

    > * The keys for rectangular cut and paste and string rectangle don't do
    >   anything. (Neither the standard keybindings nor the cua-mode version
    >   where you press ctrl-enter to start a rectangular selection.)
    >

    Rectangle editing (block select) can be activated using CRTL+ALT+A
    with normal key bindings.
    There is also an icon in the tool bar:
    http://www.vasanth.in/2009/03/31/eclipse-tip-block-selection-mode/

    > * I couldn't find any keyboard macro functionality :( This is actually
    >   a really big issue for me. If you don't have macros you can't do a
    >   lot of really really neat tricks. While I don't use keybaord macros
    >   every day, they can really save you a lot of work in some
    >   situations. See the following youtube clip for some inspiration:
    >  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zropjwVQlWQ&NR=1


    Good point. There might be an Eclipse plugin that offers marcros in a
    way that you need. I'm not sure.

    >
    > * C-x C-b worked to select the buffer as expected. Good! (However, it
    >   is not as powerful as iswitchb-mode in Emacs.)
    >
    > * I turned off the Emacs keybindings to enable the use of C-SPACE
    >   for template insertion. I'm somewhat skeptical about how these are
    >   implemented, but I admit that this may be because I'm not used to
    >   them.


    You can tie the template insertion to another key combination if you
    like:
    http://www.sigasi.com/faq/can-i-change-default-key-bindings

    >
    > * After trying out C-SPACE I changed the keys back to Emacs again. But
    >   this change didn't seem to take effect. Perhaps I did something
    >   wrong? A restart of Sigasi didn't fix it either.


    Bug in Eclipse. Try "restore to defaults".

    > * When opening an existing design which included components written in
    >   both VHDL and Verilog there was no support for Verilog at all in the
    >   editor. (Since I use both Verilog and VHDL fairly frequently this is
    >   an issue for me. If you use Verilog rarely it may not be a big
    >   problem though.)


    Yeah, we'll get to Verilog. We didn't want to offer syntax
    highlighting because that could create false expectations.
    http://www.sigasi.com/keep-me-informed-about-verilog

    > All in all, Sigasi seems to be a major step up as compared to some
    > other VHDL editing solutions (for example, I'd much rather use Sigasi
    > than the ISE text editor). However, it will not replace Emacs for me
    > anytime soon I'm afraid.
    >
    > The main reason why it is very hard to get me to change from Emacs to
    > some other editor is that my entire workflow is based around
    > Emacs. This allows me to utilize the same skill set regardless of
    > whether I edit Verilog, VHDL, HTML, C, shell script, or MP3
    > files. (Yes, I have done some simple editing of MP3 files in Emacs in
    > some situations.)


    You can edit HTML, C and shell scripts in Eclipse. Just install the
    right plugin. (No MP3 editing in Eclipse, though!)

    > In addition to text editing I'm also using Emacs for reading mail,
    > organizing my schedule, and dealing with my TODO-list. I often find
    > myself running a shell from within Emacs as well. (The unix shell
    > running in split screen with a scratch buffer in Emacs can do some
    > really powerful things when combined with macros.)
    >
    > I could probably spend another hour here merely listing some nice
    > Emacs tricks but I think I'll end here by wishing you good luck. While
    > I don't expect many die hard Emacs users to switch to Sigasi I think
    > you may have a good chance of snatching up people who only use Emacs
    > for VHDL editing.
    >
    > regards
    > /Andreas


    Thanks for the encouraging words!
    --
    kind regards
    Philippe
    Philippe Faes, Jul 13, 2011
    #16
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