POTM for April: Vim

The general idea of the Project of the Month is to donate some money to an open source project and write a blog post about it. Everyone knows about the major open source projects, such as the Linux kernel or Firefox, but there are plenty of examples of open source projects that impact you in some way that might not appear on most people’s radars.

This month I donated to Vim, the improved vi editor that I use for all sorts of text editing, including coding and configuration editing. The main developer is using all donated money to help AIDS victims in Uganda, which is both a great cause and motivates him to do more development.

While a lot of developers like Visual Studio, and some of those developers use SlickEdit or Code::Blocks as alternatives, I prefer using Vim. It’s a text editor that I can use whether I am at my desktop or logging in remotely. If I move to a different computer altogether, Vim is pretty much going to work as I expect it to. Without it, I might have to relearn a different editor when I am at home, at work, at a friend’s computer, or anywhere else.

I used to use Nano when I first started experimenting with Gnu/Linux since it was the most similar to other text editors, such as Notepad. Once I learned that there are some editors that are much more efficient, I decided to to learn Vi/Vim. Now editing files requires less key presses, and my fingers almost never have to move far from the home row. If I could find a Vim plugin for Firefox to allow me to use it as an alternative editor for text boxes in forms, I’d use it.

I also find that I am still learning ways to improve my efficiency with Vim. Recently the main developer gave a talk called “The Seven Habits of Effective Text Editing 2.0”. There is a video, which is a little longer than an hour, and slides with notes. While I knew some of the tips, some of them were only recently learned, and the talk had a few new tips that should make my future text editing much more efficient.

I do have to say that it can take some getting used to if you are not familiar with Vim. Having a command and visual mode separate from editing mode in a text editor might seem counterproductive, but once you get over that hurdle, you can be up and running in no time. Text editing becomes much more fun and productive.

Even if you don’t care much for Vim, you can also think about using its cursor keys as training for Nethack. B-)

2 comments to POTM for April: Vim

  • DUDE! Vim is awesome! You’re making me want to get back into using it regularly. I used to use it as my primary text editor, but when I did that I was so busy I didn’t have time to learn everything the way I wished I could. I’ve reverted to using Notepad for the time being, but hearing about someone so into Vim is tempting me all over again… 🙂

    Just the sheer number of ways you can gain efficiency is incredible. Especially if you type and\or think really fast. It’s a productivity dream come true. And really, isn’t it cooler to TYPE every command than mouse around? It’s faster, fo’ sho’!

    :wq! gbgames_blog_post

  • Heh, actually you can type

    :x! gbgames_blog_post

    and it does wq for you. Another efficiency gained!

    The learning curve is there, of course. I only recently found out about a number of cool features, such as autocompletion of words with CTRL+N. I need to get more familiar with controlling window placement and the like, but otherwise I find myself incredibly productive with Vim.