Vim - Thinking With Text
August 23, 2019
Vim - Thinking With Text
Score 8 out of 10
Overall Satisfaction with Vim
Vim is my dream editor if I could ever get in touch with it fully. Most of the other developers and analysts here don't touch it as it has a steep learning curve. But the potential for such streamlined text entry and manipulation is amazing. Vim can be so close to thinking that the interface can disappear.
- Never leave your keyboard. Vim modes enable you to not only edit, but navigate around a file or even multiple files without taking your hands away from the keys.
- It is already installed on every non-Windows computer since... forever. And it is freely available on Windows as well.
- Decades of personalization and plugins have been created so you can customize your experience to whatever level you desire.
- There is a dedicated community and lots of resources for learning.
- Without a doubt the hardest program to learn. It is a completely different paradigm of thinking compared to other editors
- By default it doesn't have lots of fancy features you would find in larger IDE programs like code completion and linking
- It lives in the command line so a user has to be comfortable with this interface
- There is a hefty time investment in getting up to speed on Vim, but in the long run the efficiency can make up for and surpass any lost productivity
- Free and open source.
- Available on nearly every platform imaginable.
I don't consider the steep learning curve to be a hinderance on the overall usability. I would rate this a ten, but to be honest a lot of people do get hung up at the beginning and just abandon it. However, for people who have made the moderate effort to get over the hump, nothing can be more usable.
It is open source in all that entails. There is an "official" package and documentation website, but there is no company you are getting support from. However, given the age of Vim and the fanatical love of it's users, any question you have can be (and has been) answered. Vim users love it, and love to help people learn.
It is hard to compare Vim to many other packages in the developer's stack of tools. It mainly does one thing, edit text, and does it better than anything else. For instance, you can't really compare it to Visual Studio Code because VS actually has a Vim plug-in so you can edit your source files using all the power of Vim, but still be working in a more robust development environment. Sublime Text is another pure text editor but it seems like the strengths of Sublime Text and Vim compliment more than compete. I would say Emacs is Vim's oldest and bitterest rival. They both have dedicated camps that have been going for decades. Emacs has it's own esoteric commands and operations but I don't know it well enough to compare with Vim. It seems you are either a Vim person or an Emacs person and Vim just resonated with me more so I pursed it instead.
There is a big investment in learning Vim, but if your career is centered on editing text files there is no better option. If a user takes the time to become adept they can greatly increase their efficiency. It is also nice if you are routinely on different systems as it can be found on workstations and servers alike. If you learn it, you will always have your editor available.