Organizing with Emacs Org-Mode

Another interesting Emacs mode is Org-Mode. It permits to make annotations and manage to-do lists and projects using text files with some special marks.

The marks as interpreted by Emacs, so that it separates the various parts of the text, which facilitates obtaining information. It is possible to organize an agenda with appointments set up on specific dates and also tasks without due dates. With every agenda item, it is possible to associate tags, which can be used to filter search results. These features make Org-Mode a good resource for those who use GTD. For those who don’t know GTD, it is worth to take a look. It was proposed by David Allen and is described in the book “Getting things done”. A brief description of the method can be seen on this presentation which was given at Google and on this reference card.

Besides the agenda, it is possible to create lists and texts, which can be exported to HTML or Latex, directly from Emacs.

One of the nicest features of Org-Mode is the capability to create tables. By inserting delimiting characters, it is possible to define a table and, as characters are inserted, the cells of table are re-sized appropriately. Moreover, it is possible to make calculations with the data on the table as on a spreadsheet, using Emacs Calc. Although it works with a simple text file, Emacs Calc is able to do more than simple calculations, as shown on the following video.

As the whole system is stored on a text file, it is possible to edit and share the information easily. Besides that, for those who have a device with Apple iOS or Android, there is an app called MobileOrg that can be used to consult Org-Mode files. It is prepared to access an agenda file on a Dropbox account, which facilitates the integration with the PC and another devices.

To know a bit more about Org-Mode, I recommend this episode of the FLOSS Weekly Podcast, with the interview of Carsten Dominik, who proposed the tool.


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