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Learning the vi and Vim Editors

© September 2008 Anthony Lawrence

Index by Subject

  • Learning the vi and Vim Editors
  • Robbins, Hannah & Lamb
  • O'Reilly
  • 9780596529833

I use vi every day.

"Oh, sure", you say, "You're a programmer. Of course you use some geekish editor."

Well, yes, but no. I don't do all that much programming any more. A little scripting now and then, and not even much of that. Most of what I use vi for is ordinary files. I'm using it to write this. I use it for lists, to keep track of all the things I need to keep track of. If it is something that is going into a file on my computer, I'm probably going to use vi.

Most people, even most "computer people" would use a word processor to write text like this review and a spreadsheet or database for the lists and records. It's "easier", they think.

It isn't.

Sure, there are things you can do with a spreadsheet, word procesesor or database that are useful. But it's even more useful to have the raw data in text form - it can also be imported into those other tools, but having it available in text where I can work on it with vi is always the best thing to do. And frankly, given the power of Unix in general, I hardly ever need those other tools anyway..

But most folks don't understand that. Vi is ugly, clumsy, hard to use. To me, that attitude is like someone who never learned to drive explaining why taking the bus is better than owning a car. I'm all in favor of public transportation, and it is often true that given enough time and effort you can get just about anywhere without needing to drive a car, but.. well, you get the idea. That's the difference using vi could make in your life.

So, this was supposed to be a review, not a rant. Well, heck, the book is great. If you know nothing about vi, it will teach you. If you know a bit, it will teach you more. Even if you use vi every day as I do, you'll probably pick up (or be reminded of) a thing or two. This is well done, you'll like it.

Learn the vi and vim. You'll save time, lose weight, become better looking, find true love and eternal happiness.. well, you will save a lot of time and be happier. Learn the vi and Vim!

Tony Lawrence 2008-09-04 Rating: 4.0

Amazon Order (or just read more about) Learning the vi and Vim Editors  from Amazon.com

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-> Using vi and vim to full advantage


Inexpensive and informative Apple related e-books:

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More Articles by © Anthony Lawrence

Sat Sep 6 15:36:53 2008: 4529   ElbertHannah

Hi Tony,

Elbert Hannah here. Just wanted to drop a quick note thanking you for your review of the "Learning the vi and Vim Editors".

I contacted Andy Oram on a whim (have been friends via e-mail for a while) and jokingly asked him why they hadn't updated their vi book in ten years, and would they be interested, and if so, I would love to help. He responded, "funny you would mention it....".

Perfect timing, and we put together the new version.

I too wondered how many vi-ers were left in the world and have often been disappointed at not only how few use it, but how few even know about it as everyone flocks to the latest and greatest gui editors. Yet, people still gape when I use vi (actually, mostly vim these days). They all want to know how to do, but don't want to learn. Sigh.

I too use vim externally and move data into tools, and find that my most efficient mode of operation. I often wish vendors (do you hear me Microsoft, OpenOffice, etc?) would offer a "vi" mode for all of these tools. It's probably supply and demand, but I hate to see the power of editing disappear and see it replaced with clunky gui interfaces.

Anyway, I ramble. Again, thanks for the review. Enjoy your book.

Sat Sep 6 15:44:45 2008: 4530   BigDumbDinosaur

I've been using vi almost as long as it has existed, and still do. I also use a word processor (WordPerfect, not that abortion that Microsoft sells). Word processing is most useful when the document has a lot of fancy formatting, especially if images must be carefully juxtaposed with the text. I do much of my technical writing in WordPerfect because of the need to embedded graphics into the document.

That said, most of my text editing doesn't require word processor capabilities, and that is where vi fills the bill. Yes, there are newer and possibly "better" text editors available. Yet, I keep reaching for vi. Guess old habits die hard (I still use green-bar as well, and have several Wyse 60s in my office).


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In fact, my main conclusion after spending ten years of my life working on the TEX project is that software is hard. It’s harder than anything else I’ve ever had to do. (Donald Knuth)

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