Strange Love; or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the vim

Vim is like a great game; Easy to learn, difficult to master. Once you get over the initiial bump and don’t mind changing old habbits, there are rewards for the one who perseveres.

The five stages of  vim usage:

1. Denial: Every time you enter a shell which only has vi as an editor, you just know how to go to insert mode and :wq as quickly as possible. All the while asking yourself how high anyone would have been designing an editor with different modes.

2. Anger. You have become a developer on a linux platform and now you notice you’re hanging out in shells more often than a clam. When you hear someone preaching vim you declare them idiots or purists who waste precious time being ‘elite’.

3. Bargening: Using gedit, nano, joe as an IDE is all fun and good, but you start wondering if there are ways to increase your productivity. You google for ‘efficient text editor’, and I’ll be darned it’s that vim again! You decide to give it a shot and look what those elitists are  on about. You bump into Derek Wyatt’s vim video’s and decide to stick with the old editor, but Derek’s enthusiasm made you give it a shot.

4. Depression: You only now get what vim is all about, increasing your productivity. A very well thought through editor for which every fiber of its code existance was designed to make the user edit as efficiently as possible. Even down to how far and often your fingers have to physically move on the keyboard. You only now realize you’ve wasted years of your coding life editing in inferior editors.

5. Acceptance: Finally you decide to add the alias vi=vim to your .bashrc and go use vim seriously and bathe in the bliss knowing that you can edit much faster then before.

Of course like with all processes you will go through these phases again and again. Thinking you know all there is to know, only to discover you know so little.

I’ve only been using vim as my main editor for two years now and I realize I’ve only just scratched the surface of the possibilities, but I know I’m a lot more productive then I used to be.  Once you get the hang of the vim way, you’ll start missing it once your in a different editor or IDE., luckily the VIM community is great and tools like vwrapper even add the vim editing schema to Eclipse.

Like all vim blogs will recommend, start small, build your config over time. Write down annoyances and look for solutions. Having said that, as a starter I’d highly recommend moving your ESC key to an alternative key, like your Caps-Lock. This makes escaping a small pinky move, instead of having to lift your hand.


Best resources:
  • vim tips wiki: Great resource to squeeze more power from vim
  • Having a problem with VIM? Changes are someone solved it for you in a nice plugin.
  • Derek Wyatt’s Blog: Novice, Intermediate and Advanced video’s with a vim enthusiast
  • VimCasts:  Short video tutorials
The config I use can be found on my github.

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One Response to “Strange Love; or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the vim”

  1. Danub March 6, 2012 at 22:42 #

    Hi Rob,

    Still bouncing between Anger and Depression…


    Nice blog!!!

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