Emacs and Vim both release first new updates in years

Updates for vintage text editors are like buses - none for ages then two at once!

The first major Emacs update in four years landed over the weekend, a few days after Vim had its first big release in a decade.

One major improvement to the 40-year-old Emacs is a configuration option to load dynamic modules at launch, for functions developers need but which Emacs doesn't yet support.

Mastering Emacs author Mickey Petersen says, for example, Emacs can now load up something like SQLite to store tags or run text searches without leaving the code editor.

The editor also gets a Network Security Manager, providing alerts on things like TLS certificates, network encryption state, or changes to self-signed certificates.

Another major change is Xwidgets, which embeds native GTK+ widgets inside Emacs buffers. For example, Emacs can load the WebKitGTK+ browser into a buffer, so a dev can browse the Internet from inside an editor window.

There's an experimental Cairo drawing support, which if Emacs was built with GTK+ also adds built-in printing.

The Emacs release note is here.

Earlier last week, Vim's first major revision in 10 years landed.

Key enhancements include:

  • Asynchronous I/O – Vim can communicate with background processes (for example, a Python server), with JSON support. The Vim announcement says this means devs can build “very complex plugins, written in any language and running in a separate process”;
  • Job control – Vim can start, stop, and communicate with external processes;
  • Unique Window IDs – Making it easier to navigate between multiple windows.

The full list of changes is here. ®

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