Why You Should Not Use Emacs calc

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

emacs has a advanced calculator. Alt+x calc to start it.

emacs calc 2022-09-09
emacs calc 2022-09-09

But i don't recommend using it. Because today, lots other tools are superior. Emacs calc was a killer app in the 1990s. Today it's more or less a relic. It haven't been updated for 30 years, only maintained. While now you have python julia with statistics or linear algebra etc libraries doing artificial intelligence, or WolframLang free doing symbolic equation solving.

I recommend you use a programing language instead, run it in emacs.

ruby as calculator in emacs d78e5
ruby as calculator in emacs

The advantage of using a full featured language in a buffer instead of calc are:

programing language i recommend for this are:

Don't use compiled langs, such as Java, Golang, because they are too verbose.

For how to setup, see

why not use calc

consider, how many keys u need to press to launch calc? by default, there is no key. so M-x c a l c. 6.5 keys. now, u can define a key, to open say ~/temp.py. say, f1. so, just on launching a tool, the .py or .nb or even spreadsheet, can be faster than calc.

that's consideration of how fast or easy to launch it. then, we can look at the power of the tool aspect. then we look at the ease of learning of the tool aspect. and we look at the ease of operating the tool aspect. (keystrokes requires to do the calculation)

For example, the power of the tool aspect. We look at the feature set of the tool. e.g. what r the things u need to compute most of the time (is it just ur money in and out, or sci calc, or you need metric/imperial unit conversion often, or you are a business financial man, or more advanced math such as matrixes, statistics, equations, etc.). How easy it is to do them in your tool.

i would claim, all the aspects above, emacs calc is worse, today. compared to WolframLang, python, perl, ruby.

vast majority use of emacs calc, is just simple addition. like at groceries, you need a calculator for. So, the typing in a lang would be print 3.2 + 40.19 - 50 + 910.50 etc.