On Vim

6/20/2021 9:44 pm |

Status: Second draft. - For longer posts I am going to start marking their writing status, as often I'll dash off a stream of consciousness idea and then either let it die as a draft. Maybe if I publish and then come back to refine over time, I'll get more writing done.

When it comes to discussing software with computer geeks the conversations can wander far and wide. You can have discussions over which OS is better, or what password manager to use (you are using a password manager, aren't you?) You can have arguments over the merits and downsides for various programming languages. You could bond over your shared frustrations at the global chip shortage and the GPU market right now. But, beyond all of that, if you want to really understand the geek you're talking to, you ask them about Vim.

Vim is arcane. Vim is powerful. Vim is confusing and divisive amongst coders and system admins. Vim is an extremely difficult to use text editor which can be extended and expanded to be an incredibly powerful programming tool.

Vim was originally released in 1991 as a port of an even older piece of Unix software called 'vi,' Vi was created in an era where they had to do everything with the keyboard, and as such Vim still estranges the mouse unless you get a plugin which allows some limited usage. But the truth is that it doesn't want you to use the mouse. The entire idea is to be able to do everything from the keyboard and avoid removing your hands from the keys, allowing you to be as efficient as possible.

I've messed around in Vim before, but I've never really adopted it. The learning curve on Vim is steep. You can't just open a file in it, edit it, and save and exit. I mean, you can, but it requires you to know special keyboard commands which are not obvious. A random person can open a text document in notepad, change it, and save it without any help or prompting. Not so with Vim.

All this is to say, I decided to delve into Vim today and begin really trying to use it. I did a few small coding things I needed to do and explored plugins and customizing settings in Vim to make it a more enticing tool to use. I watched several YouTube videos about different features or answering how to do various things.

I keep coming back to the phrase: Vim scares me. It isn't like I'm going to permanently screw up a coding project. But, I'm intimidated by the level of knowledge required to properly utilize Vim. And that intimidation scares me when it comes to software.

So that's one of the things I spent my Sunday messing around with. We'll see if I continue down this path, or chicken out and turn back to Atom, or Sublime Text.