Emacs for Vim users - the thrill of the unknown

I'm actually a well-adjusted Emacs user, which are few and far between. It's now been 4 years since I moved to New York and started using Emacs as my text editor for development. Here I'll go through parts of my impression so far about Emacs compared to Vim when used for programming, and some of my favorite extensions and parts of my configuration in Emacs.

When I think about opening a file in Vim, my muscle memory hesitates for a moment - what if I need to open another file? As a Vim user, I had used NERDtree to browse my directory tree and navigate through files. I appreciate NERDtree's visual layout because I think of myself as a visual person. The problem of opening files and navigating between them can be solved in many ways, in Vim and Emacs, and I've found that Vim's solutions often involve random extensions, and it just feels less orthogonal and well-designed than navigation in Emacs. This is the main reason why I like using Emacs when working on anything involving more than one file. Using C-x C-f opens the minibuffer that allows you to type anything, has good tab completion, and always works as expected. The minibuffer in Emacs is a central feature that I can't do without, for now. From there I'll often split the window with C-x 3 or C-x 2, and maybe switch one pane to the the previous buffer with C-x b. The process is simpler and quicker than what I've found using the :o command in Vim. Notably, I no longer rely on a perpetual visual directory layout, but always have the option to open the directory with C-x C-f if I need to look around.

I believe that if you use a text editor, IDE or whatever, you should be able to use it with its default settings without that much inconvenience to your muscle memory. So like, the less crazy extensions and command customizations you have, the better.

An old co-worker, when we were both learning Emacs, introduced me to the Emacs extension that I still use the most: window-number-mode. Without window-number-mode installed, I can use the Emacs default C-x o just fine. But I'll admit that I have gotten used to switching between panes with M-1, M-2, M-3, etc.

Another customization I'll admit to using is a key shortcut to go to a specific line number:

(global-set-key (kbd "C-c g") 'goto-line)

And pretty often, I'll use this abbrev I've defined to insert a pdb breakpoint. Instead of typing out the whole thing I'll just type pdb.

(define-abbrev global-abbrev-table "pdb"
  "from ipdb import set_trace; set_trace()")

There are a few other extensions I regularly use, including whitespace-cleanup-mode and git-gutter. No doubt, extensions like this are available for Vim as well. But unlike Vim, Emacs has a built-in package manager.