A robust text editor capable of achieving whatever it is the writer wishes. It supports a plethora of programming languages and other faculties of text editing. Yet its advantages do not stop there. If one wishes to delve into the wizardry of Emacs, they can use it for email, web browsing, organizing ones life and so much more. With all these factors pertaining to the sovereignty of Emacs, only one question remains. What is stopping you from beholding its power?
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Keyboard-focused, mouse-free editing
Emacs can be controlled entirely with the keyboard. While true, I often find the mouse and menus handy for those lesser-used commands. An aide-memoir.
Pro Total customizability
Customizations can be made to a wide range of Emacs' functions through a Lisp dialect (Emacs Lisp). A robust list of existing Lisp extensions include the practical (git integration, syntax highlighting, etc) to the utilitarian (calculators, calendars) to the sublime (chess, Eliza).
Pro It's also an IDE
You can debug, compile, manage files, integrate with version control systems, etc. All through the various plugins that can be installed.
Pro Works in terminal or as a GUI application
You can use Emacs' command line interface or graphical user interface.
Licensed under GNU GPL.
Pro Self documenting
Emacs has extensive help support built-in as well as a tutorial accessed with C-h t.
Pro Great documentation
With 30+ years of use the Emacs documentation is very thorough. There are also a lot of tutorials and guides written by third parties.
Pro Mini buffer
You can pass complicated arguments in the mini buffer.
Fully compliant GNU-emacs is available on many platforms, and they all understand .emacs configuration files.
Pro Rectangular cut and paste
Emacs can select rectangularly.
Pro Vi keybindings through Evil mode
Evil mode emulates vim behaviors within Emacs. It enables Vi users to move inside the Emacs universe.
Pro Lisp customizations
With lisp customization, any behavior of Emacs can be changed. Update with pre-release patch can be also applied without recompiling the whole Emacs.
Pro Visual selection and text objects with Evil
Evil is an extensible vi layer for Emacs. It provides Vim features like Visual selection and text objects.
Pro dabbrev-expand (Alt-/)
Dynamic word completion.
Pro Provides org-mode
Advanced planning and publication which can start as a simple list.
Pro Enormous range of functionalities (way beyond simple "text editing")
Through its programmability, a very broad range of functionalities can be integrated in emacs, turning it even into a "single point of contact" with the underlying operating system.
Pro Support multi-line editing, multiple frame, powerful paren, crazy jumping style
Review the "Emacs Rocks" video.
Pro Has been widely used for a long time
The first verion of Emacs was written in 1974 and GNU Emacs in 1984.
Works on Linux, Windows, Macintosh, BSD, and others.
Pro Integrates planning in your development process
You can jump straight from your org-mode files to programming tasks - and back - and build a seamless workflow.
Pro Helm plugin adds even more power to Emacs
Powerful commands, search, and more with the Helm plugin.
Pro GTK+ widgets support
Emacs is great for everything.
Pro Interactive Shells
Emacs has a number of shell variants: ansi-term, shell, and eshell.
Managing several large mailing lists has never been easier using Gnus. The threading commands and the various ways of scoring articles means that I never miss important messages/authors, etc. A joy to use.
Pro eshell is cross platform
You can use the underlying operating system shell as a terminal emulation in an Emacs buffer. Don't like the default shell for your configuration? You can change it to your liking.
Pro Excelent tutorial to get you started
The tutorial you are presented with at startup shows you exactly what you need to get started and teaches you how to use the built-in help yourself later.
Pro Excellent Lisp editing support
Built-in packages make editing Lisp source code feel natural.
Con Learning curve is long
While it's better than it used to be, with most functions being possible through the menu, Emacs is still quite a bit different from your standard editor. You'll need to learn new keyboard shortcuts.
Con Sometimes the extensibility can distract you from your actual work
If I ever want to lose half a day, I'll start by tweaking my .spacemacs config file.
Con Documentation is not beginner-friendly
Although lots of good built-in documentation _exists_, I have after four years of Emacs as my primary editor not figured out how to actually make use of it, and rely completely on Google / StackOverflow for help.
Con Hard customization
For customization, you need to learn Lisp
Con Keyboard combinations can be confusing for new users
For example, for navigation it uses the b, n, p, l keys. Which for some people may seem strange in the begging. However they can be changed easily.