VIM is the best text editor EVAAHHH! w000t !!
Phew.. that one was just waiting to come out 🙂 As you might’ve guessed, Vim has managed to literally *floor* me. After days of pondering, I still fail to understand why I missed something like this for so long…! All these years, I never used it for more than 5 minutes at a stretch. What a pity. If only I had realized…
Ages ago, I remember typing in the “vimtutor” command… Hoping for the best (Go ahead, try it). And I remember quitting the tutorial (giving up would be better) in about 10 minutes… I wondered.. Why would anyone, with a sane mind, use an editor like this?
If you were to ask me that question today, I’d call you insane if you weren’t using Vim! Alright that’s exaggerating a bit. Let’s put it this way: I’d call you insane if you knew touch typing and weren’t using Vim.. There. Better. So what caused the sudden change in mindset? It’s the philosophy..
Vim follows a simple philosophy: Try to keep your fingers close to the Home Row of the keyboard at all times. Do you understand what that means? No, you don’t. It means.. STAY AWAY FROM THE ARROW KEYS! This may sound weird at first, but trust me.. the Vim-way of editing text just pwns everything else. It takes time and patience to get used to, but it’s definitely worth it. It’s this feature that distinguishes it from everything else, including the Emacs Operating System..
If you know how to touch type, then you sure as hell know that pulling your hand away from the Home row to press the Arrow keys, Delete, Function keys etc. and then bringing it all the way back takes a lot of time. Especially if you’re on a Laptop (it becomes a nightmare, really, with all the keys stacked together in the weirdest of places).
The creators of Vim found a neat solution: Eliminate the need to pull your hand away. For this it uses what is called “modal editing” (modal, modes.. get it?) wherein a user can not only enter text (called insert mode) but also perform various operations on the text without touching anything on the right half of the keyboard..
Now I can blabber on and on and try to explain (in vain) how the different modes work and how they supposedly make life easier, but IMO Vim’s features are best understood by actually using those features.
First of all, you need to have Vim installed (if it isn’t there already). I personally use gVim, a gnome front-end for traditional Vim. And I suggest you use it too.. So if you’re using Debian/Ubuntu. It’s as easy as:
$ sudo aptitude install gvim
gVim is also available for Windows. Download it from vim.org
Once the installation is done, go read the following page. It discusses the essential features of Vim as an informal IRC-style conversation:
That should get you started. Additional tips can be found at the VIM Site (they have a nice Tips Wiki) as well as a ton of other pages. Just search. I’ll soon write a post discussing a few features and key-bindings that I use on a regular basis. Till then, Enjoy!