Well a straight answer to this question is “GNU/Emacs is a text editor” which can be easily extended and customized. But I would say its an Operating system in which one can do anything from managing other processes, files, folders, check mails, browse web and even listen to music apart from just editing text and writing codes. For developers and coders it acts as an full fledged IDE.
People often complain that Emacs has lots of key-bindings which can be frustrating sometimes, but trust me after a while once you get used to it, you will discover that you have started working faster and in a much managed way. Be it a task like writing a blog, or a programming code, Emacs has support for almost all programming languages in the world with common support such as syntax highlighting, code indentation, auto-completion and many more.
- buffer: If one is used to work with multiple files at a same time(tabs), then emacs buffer is something similar. What puts emacs buffer stand apart from normal tabs is that these buffers don’t just holds files, but also shell, scratchpads, output logs from emacs or some other programs. One can switch between these buffers easily with C-x b which stands for “hold down Control key and press x, released both keys and press b“. If you think this key-binding is cumbersome, then you can install an emacs extension(its just an .el file) called CycleBuffer and switch buffers with function keys[F11,F12].
- ring: In any text editor you have used so far, we can only cut/copy paste one buffer at a time, which means when we copy something that will overwrite any existing buffer. Emacs goes a different way, means when we copy something, emacs stores it as an array or a ring, and we can cycle through in a circular fashion and can select particular item.
- tramp: Using this mode, you can edit remote file by calling it in your local buffer.
- mark ring: You can mark points in buffers and visit it later using C-<SPC> C-<SPC>.
help in GNU/Emacs:
a. If you want to get started with GNU/Emacs, is has built-in self tutorial which can be called using C-h t.
b. for detailed manual type C-h r