1823: Hottest Editors
Title text: Elon Musk finally blocked me from the internal Tesla repository because I wouldn't stop sending pull requests for my code supporting steering via vim keybindings.
The comic has a play on the word 'Editor'. The editors from 1995 to 2015 are software text editors, and the editor(s) from 2020 onward are genomic editing techniques that edit DNA.
Text editors are popular among programmers and computer scientists to edit machine-readable text, as well as other digital files. Two of the earlier editors, Vim and Emacs, traditionally use the keyboard (rather than the mouse) to perform common actions (like scrolling, marking text, saving, and searching). As Vim and Emacs use different keyboard commands in different styles, proficiency in one editor does not make it easy to use the other. The "Editor wars" refers to Vim and Emacs users debating heavily over which of the two editors is the best (keyboard bindings is just one argument). This debate was previously mentioned in 378: Real Programmers. More modern editors (including Notepad++ and Sublime Text) mainly use keyboard shortcuts that are global to the operating system, again different from Vim and Emacs.
Notepad++ is a popular text and source code editor, initially released in 2003 and available only for the Windows platform.
Sublime Text is the current "most popular" text editor according to this comic; it was released in 2008.
Sublime Text, Vim, and Emacs are cross-platform.
The 2020 editor 'CRISPR' is not a text editor, but a technique used to edit DNA in a pre-existing genome. The technique has experienced a surge of recent attention in the media (beginning with the 2016 publication of "The Heroes of CRISPR" and litigation over the patent ownership), suggesting it may become the most popular "editor" in years to come. The joke lies in the comic intentionally not distinguishing between text/code editing and genome editing. It may also suggest that we will not be editing digital plain-text files, but DNA in 2020, possibly due to very recent advances in DNA digital data storage.
Many pieces of software that contain editing functions (in text boxes, on command lines, etc.) offer Emacs and/or Vim keybindings: the keys will be (roughly) the same as in Emacs or in Vim, so that someone familiar with one of those editors can use the keyboard without learning something new. The comic suggests that in 2025, the Vim key-bindings will be the most popular for editing genes using CRISPR. This creates a comical effect: CRISPR is a technique that operates on genes and not on digital hardware, so it does not use a keyboard per se. Consequently, it is surprising that CRISPR would have key bindings. The comic also suggests that in 2025, Vim will make a comeback in DNA editing, thus having 'won' the battle with Emacs.
The title text says that Randall has been banned from the code base of Tesla, as he keeps sending pull requests (code changes) to steer a Tesla car using Vim keybindings. Not only does this seem implausible, but it seems dangerous to steer a car with a (computer) keyboard. The arguably most important keybindings of a text editor are those to move the editing location (the cursor) around. Vim classically uses the h, j, k, and l keys for left, down, up, and right functions, although it also supports the arrow keys present on modern keyboards. To use these in a vehicular context, up and down would probably, as in many racing games, be mapped to acceleration and braking, respectively. One additional problem with using essentially binary inputs (key pressed or not) as a replacement for a car's steering wheel is achieving different degrees of direction change. Pressing, say, the h key could either cause the car to turn its wheels left by a pre-set, fixed amount, or it could turn them left the more the longer the key is held down. There has been a spoof based on the reverse principle, however.
- [A short list with a heading above a line and below that a list of seven years increasing with 5 years intervals. After each year are gray lines that leads to the name of an editor, except for the first two years, where there is a two row square bracket around the first entry;]
- Hottest Editors
- 1995-2000—[Emacs–Vim Editor war]
- 2015—Sublime Text
- 2025—CRISPR (Vim keybindings)
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