How did linus torvalds single-handedly code 90,000 lines of git, using an editor as primitive as uemacs – quora gas 1981

Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate simple editors as much as the next guy, any day I have to use something more complex than VS Code is a bad day for me. And I try to use my mouse as little as possible, it’s kind of a waste of time to reach it sometimes when I can just do things with the keyboard my hand is already on. All that being said, there’s such a thing as too much abstraction. Sometimes I have to use Vi because it’s all that’s on some server or embedded system and I can’t install anything else, and that’s just as bad if not worse than having to use Eclipse or Visual Studios for me.

But the people that use Vi or Emacs exclusively? They’re the worst. Every time I take more than 3 seconds to do something they’re like “oh there’s an emacs command for that” or “in Vi that’s just :yx”. Nine times out of ten, these are kids that are either still in college or fresh out and are using Vi because it makes them feel like a bad ass, and they’re even slower than me and watching them do anything is a crawling pain.

But that tenth time? Oh that tenth time is terrifying. I’ve watched engineers with decades of experience shoot line after line of code out of their finger tips and move around the terminal window like a trained ice dancer using nothing but Vi, and it humbles me every time. It takes years to get that good, years of slow, plodding work, looking up keystrokes or accidentally typing in files because you didn’t realize you’re in insert mode. I used to always say purposefully using Vi is like intentionally blinding yourself so your hearing gets better.

Most of the kids I mentioned above will never get there, because in a few years they’ll do the same thing I did and switch to some halfway point between a text editor and an IDE, but once upon a time that wasn’t an option. I mean Gedit was released in 1999, and even Nano was released in 2000. A lot of older developers cut their teeth on systems where emacs or Vi were the only options, hell I think Vi wasn’t even released until the early 90s( note, I thought wrong, Vi has been around since the late 70s). Some of the developers I’ve worked with started on punch-cards, but they’re getting rarer as time goes on.

People like Linus Torvalds have years and years of experience tricking the editor in to doing what they wanted it to do, a lot of them didn’t have a choice. For early developers, it was sink or swim, and Linus Torvald swims like a damned fish.

Consider that most of UNIX was developed initially with editors even simpler than vi. At times they even used teletypes—no monitor, just a printer and a keyboard. Before that—and even concurrently and after that—people wrote software on punchcards.

That is, unless you realize the editor doesn’t actually matter so much. Programming ability does—you can’t write really good programs without it—and low latency interaction speed helps keep your velocity up by keeping you in-flow. You don’t need a complex editor for that; in fact complexity works against that.

If your idea of programming is sitting in an IDE auto-completing all day, you won’t end up with any accomplishment of similar magnitude to Git. You might end up with 90,000 lines, though, although most might resemble autogenerated boilerplate.

My jzIntv project is in a similar line-count territory—~95K lines—when you strip out generated files and outside contributions. I also provide a similar line count of assembly code files for the Intellivision (some generated, and a bit of boilerplate copying, mind you). Would you call vim more or less primitive than microEmacs?

Microsoft Programmers Workbench was a prime example of a period piece which was not for the faint of heart. Perhaps one of the worst IDE ever constructed, it was terrible but necessary to produce code for OS/2 and NT. To add insult to injury, this actually followed Borland’s IDE successes from Turbo Pascal, Turbo “C” C++” and others in a very functional, intuitive and very ahead of its time product, it’s only real “flaw” was that it wasn’t windows (so perhaps that was its real greatest strength it was an app just like windows was). Borland IMPLODED (at least that is the conventional wisdom, as at the time it was rumored that Microsoft had hired away the key developers of the Borland Suites which was Mods Operandi for Gates/Ballmer, so I do tend to believe that history rather than the sanitized one). IBM had their Programmers workbench, which was challenging as well, and other things were out there too.

That said, Until you have written production code on Microsofts Programmers Workbench, you truly have not lived !! HAH that would be a great idea for a “horror” simulation for HTC Vive, the player would code a program in PWB to escape from a dungeon! HAH it could take days.

RE: productivity tools (such as a favorite editor, tools for defragging a disk, or recovering files for instance)if it didn’t fit on a floppy not an option for field service techs. Back then though prior to OOP behemoths, lots “could” fit on a floppy.