Emacs Emulation Extension Now Available!

Emacs Emulation Extension Now Available!

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We are pleased to announce the availability of Emacs Emulation as a free extension for Visual Studio 2010!  This extension provides basic support for Emacs keybindings and text editing commands, very similar to the built-in Emacs keyboard layout in VS 2008.  Once the extension is installed you should be able to use familiar keyboard shortcuts to execute Emacs commands within VS 2010.

Installation and Setup

Installing Emacs Emulation requires Visual Studio 2010 Pro, Premium, or Ultimate (the Express editions do not support extensions) and a one-time elevation to administrator permissions.  This elevation is necessary to install the keybindings file in the Visual Studio Program Folder.  The first time you launch Visual Studio after downloading and installing the extension, you should see a permissions dialog, shown below.  Click OK and follow the system prompt to elevate.  This is only required once; subsequent launches of Visual Studio will not prompt for elevation.

Elevated permissions dialog for Emacs emulation

After installing the extension and keybindings file, go to Tools->Options->Keyboard to select the Emacs keyboard mapping scheme, as shown below:

Choose "Emacs" as the keyboard mapping scheme

Using the Emacs Keyboard Layout

You can begin using Emacs shortcuts as soon as you’ve selected Emacs as your keyboard mapping scheme.  Some of the most common Emacs shortcuts supported by this extension are:

General Shortcut Keys


Command

Keys

Description

Edit.EmacsExtendedCommand

ALT + X

Places the cursor in the Find/Command box on the Standard toolbar.

Edit.EmacsFindReplace

SHIFT + ALT + 5

Displays the replace options in the Quick tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.

Edit.EmacsPasteRotate

ALT + Y

Pastes an item from the Clipboard Ring tab of the Toolbox to the file and automatically selects the pasted item. Press ALT + Y again to paste the next item to the Clipboard Ring.

Edit.EmacsQuit

CTRL + G

Stops the current command or code and deactivates the region.

Edit.EmacsUniversalArgument

CTRL + U

Prompts for an integer, returns negative if the first character entered is a hyphen. When a non-digit character is entered, the prefix for the command is set to the entered integer. If no integer is entered, the default value is 4. Repeatedly invoking the command multiplies the current value entered by the previous accumulated value.

Text Manipulation


Command

Keys

Description

Edit.EmacsBreakLine

ENTER

Inserts a new line.

Edit.EmacsBreakLineIndent

CTRL + J

Inserts a new line and indents it.

Edit.EmacsCharTranspose

CTRL + T

Transposes the characters on either side of the cursor. For example, Ed|n Sub would be changed to read End| Sub.

Edit.EmacsDeleteSelection

CTRL + DELETE

Deletes the current selection.

Edit.EmacsDeleteToEOL

CTRL + K

Deletes from the cursor to the end of the current line.

Edit.EmacsLineOpen

CTRL + O

Inserts a new line after the cursor. The cursor stays in the current line.

Edit.EmacsQuotedInsert

CTRL + Q

Reads another key and inserts the key into the buffer. Keys must be 8-bit ASCII characters. Use this command to insert control characters, meta characters, or graphics characters into the buffer.

Edit.EmacsWordCapitalize

ALT + C

Capitalizes the character to the right of the cursor or the first character of the next word if the cursor is between words.

Edit.EmacsWordDeleteToEnd

ALT + D

Deletes the characters to the right of the cursor to the end of the word.

Edit.EmacsWordDeleteToStart

ALT + BACKSPACE
—or—
ALT + DELETE

Deletes the characters from the left of the cursor to the start of the word.

Edit.EmacsWordLowercase

ALT + L

Changes the selected text to lowercase characters.

Edit.EmacsWordTranspose

ALT + T

Transposes the words on either side of the cursor. For example, |End Sub would be changed to read Sub End|.

Edit.EmacsWordUppercase

ALT + U

Changes the selected text to uppercase characters.

Text Navigation


Command

Keys

Description

Edit.EmacsCharLeft

CTRL + B

Moves the cursor one character to the left.

Edit.EmacsCharRight

CTRL + F

Moves the cursor one character to the right.

Edit.EmacsDocumentEnd

END
—or—
SHIFT + ALT + . (period)
—or—
SHIFT + END
—or—
CTRL + X, ]

Moves the cursor to the bottom of the current document.

Edit.EmacsDocumentStart

HOME
—or—
SHIFT + ALT + , (comma)
—or—
SHIFT + HOME
—or—
CTRL + X, [

Moves the cursor to the top of the current document.

Edit.EmacsGoToLine

ALT + G

Displays the Go To Line dialog box, which allows you to navigate to a specific line of code in the current document.

Edit.EmacsLineDown

CTRL + N

Moves the cursor down one line.

Edit.EmacsLineEnd

CTRL + E

Moves the cursor to the end of the current line. If you use word wrap, the cursor moves to the physical, not the displayed, end of the current line.

Edit.EmacsLineStart

CTRL + A

Moves the cursor to the beginning of the current line. If you use word wrap, the cursor moves to the physical, not the displayed, beginning of the current line.

Edit.EmacsLineUp

CTRL + P

Moves the cursor up one line.

Edit.EmacsPopMark

CTRL + X, CTRL + SPACEBAR
—or—
CTRL + X, CTRL + SHIFT + 2

Moves the cursor to the current mark and then removes the mark for the location stack.

Edit.EmacsScrollLineCenter

CTRL + L

Scrolls the document so that the current line is now in the center of the viewable area in the editor.

Edit.EmacsScrollLineTop

SHIFT + ALT + 1

Scrolls the document so that the current line appears at the top of the viewable area in the editor.

Edit.EmacsScrollPageDown

CTRL + V

Scrolls down within the document.

Edit.EmacsScrollPageUp

ALT + V

Scrolls up within the document.

Edit.EmacsSetMark

CTRL + SHIFT + 2
—or—
CTRL + SPACEBAR

Adds a mark to the location stack for the current cursor.

Edit.EmacsSwapPointAndMark

CTRL + X, CTRL + X

Moves the cursor to the current mark in the location stack and moves the current mark to the location where the cursor mark was when the command was invoked.

Edit.EmacsWordNext

CTRL + RIGHT ARROW
—or—
ALT + F
—or—
ALT + RIGHT ARROW

Moves the cursor to the first character in the next word.

Edit.EmacsWordPrevious

CTRL + LEFT ARROW
—or—
ALT + B
—or—
ALT + LEFT ARROW

Moves the cursor to the first character in the previous word.

File Management


Command

Keys

Description

Edit.EmacsFileSaveDirty

CTRL + X, S

Displays a list of modified files and allows you to select which files to save.

Window Management


Command

Keys

Description

Edit.EmacsCloseOtherWindow

CTRL + X, 1

When a window is split, this shortcut closes the pane that does not have focus.

Edit.EmacsOtherWindow

CTRL + X, O

Switches focus between panes when a window is split.

Edit.EmacsSplitVertical

CTRL + X, 2

Splits the current document in half vertically. The current line of code is centered in each window.

Using the Emacs Commands

Once you’ve installed the Emacs Emulations extension, all of the Emacs shortcuts it enables are fully customizable.  If you choose to use the Emacs keyboard schema, you’ll automatically get the shortcuts listed above.  If you don’t like a particular keybinding in the Emacs schema, you can always change it through Tools->Options->Keyboard.  You can switch keyboard layouts or customize shortcuts for specific commands (Emacs or otherwise) at any time.

Feedback

We’re always interested in your feedback on Visual Studio and extensions published by Microsoft.  In fact, this extension was created largely in response to your feedback that removing Emacs emulation from VS 2010 was causing significant pain on a daily basis; we hope we’ve addressed that pain with this extension.  If you have questions or comments about Emacs Emulation, feel free to post them in the blog comments here.  If you find a specific bug in the Emacs Emulation extension, please file a Connect bug report so we can investigate in more detail.

Enjoy!

Brittany Behrens
Program Manager, Visual Studio Editor

Leave a Comment
  • Please add 2 and 7 and type the answer here:
  • Post
  • Cool, now do Vim!

  • @Ariel  Check out the VsVim extension:  visualstudiogallery.msdn.microsoft.com/.../59ca71b3-a4a3-46ca-8fe1-0e90e3f79329

  • Thank you for implementing this. I relied heavily on the emacs keyboard mode in VS 2005 and 2008.

  • @Ariel @Aaron There's also ViEmu. I find it to be more robust than the VsVim extension. http://viemu.com

  • @Ariel @Aaron There's also ViEmu. I find it to be more robust than the VsVim extension. http://viemu.com

  • Thanks from all of us who have invested entirely too much time gaining the muscle memory necessary to use Emacs effectively.

  • thanks a lot. works great (as the 2008 version)

  • Thanks.  Much better than VS2008 was, looks like it might actually be usable.  Of course what would be even better would be a VB.NET mode for Emacs with support for compiling solutions with msbuild.

  • Thanks!  This makes VS2010 much more effective & pleasant for me to use.

  • This is awesome for someone who spends most of his time in emacs and some of his time in Visual Studio.

    Thanks!

  • The extension looks enabled in VS, but the Emacs keyboard layout doesn't appear in Tools -> Options

  • How can we add Brief keyboard Emulator to VS 2010?

  • Thanks so much.  This makes VS2010 much more usable.

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is so important for me. Not having Emacs emulation was causing RSI issues for me because without Emacs keystrokes I was reaching for arrow and page up/down keys much more often. Now that Emacs emulation is back you have literally saved me from being disabled and unemployed.

    Now I wish the quality was a little better. It is quite usable, but there are some nasty bugs, for example pressing the Tab key overwrites characters if the existing text on the line does not start at column 0.

  • @Anon:  We're aware of a couple of significant bugs in the current version, including the Tab issue you describe.  One of the advantanges of publishing Emacs emulations as an extension is that we can update it more easily; we don't have to issue a formal hotfix or wait for a service pack, as we do for VS releases.  We're working on a fix for the Tab overwrite bug and will post another comment here once a new version of the extension is live.

    Thanks for posting!

    Brittany

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