Early in 2012, Chris Granger - former Program Manager for Microsoft's Visual Studio product, Bay Area resident, and Clojure enthusiast - released a proof of concept video for something he called "LightTable", a radical rethinking of our traditional programming environments. Over the next few months, new videos appeared, followed by a KickStarter project...
LightTable is still young but it is already a usable editor with some very unique features. Over the last year I've kept dipping into LightTable to see how it is evolving but it's been too rough around the edges, and too feature poor, to use for anything more than small projects for short periods. It's always shown tremendous promise though so I knew it was only a matter of time...
...and with the new release, and the plugins available, today I was able to use LightTable for all of my editing needs (and I'm writing this blog post in it as well!). Today I've been exploring the Monger library for MongoDB. We've been a CongoMongo shop for a couple of years but there are all sorts of reasons why we're concerned about continuing to rely on that library (and I'm pretty much the de facto lead on the project!). LightTable's live evaluation and inline documentation make it really easy to explore and play with new libraries and to evaluate how a particular library will work with your code.
As I said, LightTable is still young. The plugins available so far are pretty basic. I'm an Emacs user so I'm used to full keyboard control, integrated Git, and a whole bunch of powerful packages. That said, LightTable is already doing well: the Emacs key bindings are usable (but still quirky), there's a great REPL experience, rainbow delimiters and the Claire plugin provides a good first step toward the ido-mode C-x C-f experience. Git integration is the biggest missing piece for me right now. Global find and replace. An integrated shell. And an IRC client would be icing on the cake.
So I can't leave Emacs behind yet. I doubt I'll be able to leave it behind for a while. But I expect I'll be able to use LightTable for more and more serious work going forward.