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I have been reading very good thing about Spacemacs, and decided to give it a try. Right now I am trying to port my (messy handwritten) configuration to it, and the Spacemacs way to do it is by creating a layer (or so I think).

And I have a few doubts:

  1. I use org-journal, and it can only be loaded after org. What should I put in my <layer>-packages list? Just org-journal or both org-journal and org?

  2. Where is the appropriate place to setup things like org-agenda-files and org-todo-keywords?

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There are two ways you can do both of these things: with, or without, a custom spacemacs layer.

Without a custom layer, you would add org-journal to the list of dotspacemacs-additional-packages (with org in your list of configuration layers). Your agenda and todo setup would go in dotspacemacs/user-config.

The other option would be to create your own custom layer for your org configuration. You'd put the org-journal requirement, and your agenda/todo configs in that layer. If you haven't, checkout the spacemacs layer introduction here. Regarding your comment that layers are the "Spacemacs way", that may be the Spacemacs philosophy, but it's not a functional requirement. Loading individual packages and keeping all your config in your .spacemacs would definitely work to get spacemacs configured how you like. A custom configuration layer could come later (so says a person who doesn't have any custom layers yet, but a fair amount of configuration).

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