Microsoft Looking at Emacs for .Net

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2008-01-02

Microsoft is working on a project that would essentially bring the functionality of the Emacs text editor to .Net.

Microsoft software architect Don Box on Dec. 29 posted a blog entry stating that his colleague, Douglas Purdy, was hiring people to work on a new extensible text editor. Boxs post pointed to a Purdy blog post from Dec. 26, where Purdy said: "We are looking for developers/testers to build a tool that I will roughly describe as Emacs.Net."

The Emacs text editor has been around for years, developed in 1976 by free software advocate Richard Stallman. There have been many versions and variations of Emacs, including versions for Windows. In 1981, James Gosling, the creator of Java, created the first Emacs-like editor to run on Unix, known as Gosling Emacs. In 1984, Stallman began working on GNU Emacs to produce a free software alternative to Gosling Emacs—which Gosling had sold to a company called UniPress to distribute commercially.

Now, enter Microsoft. It is not clear whether Microsoft plans to adopt any of the Emacs code or to do its own Emacs-like editor.

"My guess is that its part of an effort to reach out to Linux/Unix developers," said Mike Sax, a developer and president of Sax Software Corp., Eugene, Ore. "The interesting part is that instead of putting it into the everything and the kitchen sink Visual Studio, they may be going for a much lighter set of tools that more closely resemble the Unix toolset."

Click here to read more about Microsofts .Net source code.

Why would a .Net developer want Emacs in the first place? "Because you have lived in Unix and Linux and you wont move to .Net unless you have Emacs," said a former Microsoft software engineer who asked not to be identified. "Although there is a windows version, so it is strange. A .Net version wouldnt make me shift any faster but I was never a Unix geek."

Microsoft did not respond to a request for more information about by the time this article was published.


Meanwhile, in other news relating to .Net popping up in odd places, Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation, said the EMFT (Eclipse Modeling Framework Technology) project will target .Net.

"Personally, I think its cool to see Eclipse projects add support for other platforms in addition to Eclipse," Milinkovich said.

According to a project announcement on the Eclipse Foundation Web site, the EMFT project leaders said: "The EMFT project would like to announce the creation of a new component, EMF4NET. The goal of EMF4Net is to enhance the Eclipse Modeling Framework (EMF) with a code generation facility for the .Net platform. EMF4Net will allow the generation of C# code from Ecore models in the same way that EMF generates Java code."

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