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EmacsConf 2019 - virtual conference

Back in April 2019, Akshay and I were discussing about Emacs in general. He shared a link to Sacha’s blog, where we found some references, which introduced us to EmacsConf. We were happy about the fact that there is a conference about Emacs, but the last conference happened in 2015. And guess what, EmacsConf 2019 got announced in July and it was going be an online conference!

I joined #emacsconf channel on Freenode immediately after seeing the announcement. We discussed about having local events, where people will come together some time before the conference schedule. So that everyone can discuss and then watch the conference together.

Attending the conference

I was really excited for the conference. The conference was on the 3rd weekend after PyCon India 2019. As discussed on channel, I planned to host the local event at our office (InfraCloud). The announcement was made on different meetup groups two days before. This should have been done at least one week before. On the conference day Sourabh came, so I was not alone.

We used external monitor and speaker with split window for the video stream and IRC chat window for #emacsconf channel.

Setup for attending EmacsConf 2019

The live streaming setup was done using free software only. We were using VLC media player to watch the stream. At the beginning we faced few issues with Jitsi Meet but later it was working just perfectly. It was a really different experience of attending the conference virtually. Everyone was posting their reactions to the channel while they were watching the stream. Having that connect was something new for me. Usually when we attend conferences in person, we don’t get to see immediate responses or reactions from other attendees.


Conference started with a welcome note by Amin Bandali (bandali) followed by community update by Sacha Chua (sacha). She talked about things like how new people are getting into Emacs and how we can have more people involved. John Wiegley talked about development update, what are the new features on the road-map and next release.

All the talks were worth watching, I was in the office till 23:00 IST, came back to my place and started watching again till 3:30. Here are few of them which I liked most

  1. Magit deep dive - Jonathan Chu
    Shows some interesting options which are available in Magit.
  2. Ledger-mode - Quiliro Ordóñez
    A major mode and command line tool for plain text accounting. I started tinkering with this tool after watching the talk.
  3. Emacs as my Go To Script Language - Howard Abrams
  4. How Emacs became my awesome Java editing environment - Torstein Krause Johansen
    It was really fascinating to see how the speaker has configured everything they use.
  5. Interactive Remote Debugging and Development with TRAMP Mode - Matt Ray
    This was another interesting talk about using Tramp to do work with remote machine. I actually use it the same way to work over SSH.
  6. Emacs: The Editor for the Next Forty Years - Perry E. Metzger
    The speaker talked about what all features they want to see in future releases. Switching to improved Elisp, re implementing the core part of Emacs slowly piece by piece and so on.
  7. How to record executable notes with eev - and how to play them back - Eduardo Ochs
    I really liked the idea of having notes which are executable. Something like you write down a note about some manual and you can jump to the manual entry with Man mode by just with a key combination.
  8. Play and control your music with Emacs - Damien Cassou
  9. Don’t wait! Write your own (yas)snippet - Tony Aldon
    Yasnippet was something new for me. This talk was example of a well recorded talk, where the speaker showed what is yasnippet and how to use it step by step.
  10. Automate your workflow as a game developer - Jānis Mancēvičs
    This talk was about invoking different instances of Blender tool from Emacs to speed up the rendering process.
  11. Porting org-shiftup/down as a separate module - MetroWind

I encourage everyone to watch all the videos which are available here:


There was one suggestion of maintaining a pad, where attendees will add links, references and notes for talks. Few people volunteered for that and collected all the data while attending the conference. There was another channel #emacsconf-accessible where few people were describing what is happening on the screen. So that attendees who cannot see, can also attend the conference with ease. Thanks to rwp and toomanyof for doing it from the beginning to end of conference. During John’s talk, I really loved the following description about background.

<rwp>  We can see that it is dark outside the window behind (either early morning or late night outside)
<rwp>  Sound has been lost. Session is being reset to restore it.
<rwp>  Can see live Jitsi desktop as they try to restore the stream.
<rwp>  Video stream is back now.

A big thanks to bandali, sacha and everyone who helped in making this conference possible. I will update this post once the blog post about streaming setup is released.



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