Table of Contents

The Free Professor



These pages will explore the creation of online instructional materials using only free software. The philosophy, tenants and advantages of free software will be examined. The production of video, audio, and interactive electronic texts will be described. Effective methods of interacting with students synchronously and asynchronously will be analyzed.

Free Software

Free Software Links Firefox Thunderbird VLC media player Xubuntu LaTeX Sage GNU Emacs Org


What is Emacs?

Emacs stands for Editing Macros which means that Emacs is an editor. The primary function of Emacs is the editing of text files. Emacs contains numerous features that allow one to effectively and efficiently create and edit any type of text file. However, Emacs is really much more than a basic text editor. Unlike most software, Emacs is extensible and completely customizable. Emacs may be customized so that it operates exactly as a user wishes: key bindings may be changed or added, syntax coloring may be customized for any language, window behavior may be specified, and almost anything else a user can envision may be done. Emacs may be extended to operate as a mail reader, file browser, calculator, chat client, shell emulator, personal information manager, web browser, and numerous other things. Further, Emacs is free, meaning free as in liberty, meaning a user has the freedom to alter and use Emacs in any way the user chooses and the freedom to distribute those alterations to others.

This web site was made using GNU Emacs and Org, one of the many modes of GNU Emacs.


What is Org?

Org is a mode of Emacs which functions as an organizer. Org provides an efficient system for the taking and organization of notes. A file in org format contains sections, subsections, etc., each of which may be hidden from view if desired. The ability to hide sections and Org's simple commands create an environment in which large files are easy to edit and maintain.

It is easy to create and edit tables in Org. Mathematical formulas may be assigned to tables allowing them to be used as spreadsheets. I have tables set up in my grade files that automatically compute the grades of my students. I also have tags in these files that allow me to search for and display the grades of an individual student while not displaying anything else.

Org files may be exported to other formats such as HTML. This website was made using this export ability. I have one file which contains all of the HTML code for this site. When I edit the file, I hide all of the sections except the one on which I'm working. Once I'm done editing, I export the file and org-mode's exporting facility generates all of the section links, the table of contents, and many other elements that would be difficult to generate myself.

There are many other features of Org. Tasks may be scheduled, deadlines may be specified, etc. Organization is easy with Org. Org is included in the latest versions of GNU Emacs. Download GNU Emacs to get started.

Org Links


Author: Scott P. Randby


Date: 2014-06-25 Wed 20:21

Made with GNU Emacs 24.2.1 and Org 8.2.4