The love/hate that is Emacs Calc

Have you ever tried to use Emacs Calc? It's really damn useful and really damn frustrating. Part of the reason for this is that the manual is a monster to navigate.

Suppose for the sake of argument that you want to calculate the number of days between two dates. OK, let's go to the manual.

Now, because I have experience with this, I know to look in the data types section of the manual. If you don't know this, then you'll probably spend a lot of time just finding that.

So now you're looking at data types. There's an entry on date forms. Great. Let's read about them.

You're greeted with a wall of text but near the top is this:

Date forms are entered and displayed enclosed in ‘< >’ brackets.

Cool. And if you read the rest of the section it will tell you nothing else about entering date forms, but lots about the history of calendars.

Now you're in Calc. You want to enter a date. You type '<'.

The Calc window moves in some weird way.

Turns out '<' runs calc-scroll-left. If you have Emacs intuition, you type '>' and things go back to normal.

Do you want to enter a date form? You have to type ' then the date form. I can find nothing in the manual that says this. I can't remember how I figured this out.

-- Geoff (