VI FTW! (and not VIM, proper VI
a tad bit off topic, but i have never used vi. i tried to learn, but vim comes up when i type in vi. vim was not just user-unfriendly, it was proactively user-hostile. i cant vouch for plain vi, but if vimproved had me scared for my life in seconds, then viunimproved......
Try the "Use external Editor" preference in the Arduino IDE. It actually works impressively well, for such a simple feature. What it does seems twofold: 1) don't allow the IDE to edit the sketch, and 2) re-read the sketch from disk before each "verify" or "upload" action.
So you can go along in emacs, save your file, click the upload button on the IDE, and have it do the right thing.
how would that work if i tried to work on it thru SSH? i could always forward X and start up arduino remotely, but in addition to being a terrible idea, not all of the places i SSH from have graphical capabilities. i frequently ssh from my phone, tablet, laptop, and school computers (which are so bad that SSHing a java gui just makes me shudder). the first three dont have graphics, and then theres the school comps