Babblings of an aging geek in love with the Absurd, his family, and his own hubris.... oh, and Lisp.

How to Learn the Org Mode

agumonkey asked on Reddit:

btw, did you “master” org-mode through sheer RTFM or did someone guide you (it’s a vast thing, I found it hard to find clever usage while learning the bits). Do you or do you not stand on giants’ shoulder Sir?

That’s an excellent question, since org-mode makes Emacs worth learning. When I started using org-mode, it was a replacement for small notes that I had originally formatted in Markdown. At first, I was annoyed that the difference between headers and bullet items was initial spaces before the asterisk. I also didn’t like that it was different. When judicious, Markdown can be readable, but =commands= with equal signs seemed silly.

But I loved how links were displayed and used. Oh, and the tables. The basics of org-mode seemed straight-forward and easy to learn by reading the first part of the Compact Guide to org-mode. I loaded up the PDF on my tablet and read the first section, but when I got to the literate programming section, the compact guide proved insufficient, so I grabbed the Complete Manual and re-read those chapters that really interested me.

My first real project was keeping a daily journal and writing some Lisp code to grab and format the day’s weather into my org file.


So, to answer the question, sheer RTFM-ing is what I did, but that was then. What should someone do now? I don’t know. I’ve tried to hook friends by pointing them to some of the standard references, but I do think that someone with the time and talent should follow Mickey Peterson's lead, and write a book on Org Mode. I mean, the manual is pretty good, but it is a reference manual.

I might be tempted to write a book, but I believe I would write most of the content as blog entries and chapters, and see how it goes first. Sooooo… let me turn the tables, and ask others about what tutorials of the various org-mode features need describing, and I’ll see if I can answer them to give others an easier time at learning one of the best productivity tools.

Interested? Let me know.