VIM wins the day

November 4, 2007

In my most recent post I elaborated the glories of the Scribes editor. While I still believe Scribes is a wonderful editor I couldn’t get past one technical requirement….its dependency on gnome. If you are a programmer who only works on machines that run gnome, then go with Scribes.

The VIM (Vi Improved) editor is the editor that I will use. Learning the basic VI commands will come in handy as virtually all unix and unix like systems have it pre-installed. I like the idea of going to any unix machine and being immediately productive. Vi has been used for years by top notch engineers/programmers and has benefited from the accumulated knowledge and improvements of these individuals. As they say, “We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us”. VIM also has numerous scripts for rails that make it even more productive.

For me, the main drawbacks of VIM are the user interface and the steep learning curve. I’ve always wanted to use an editor that was pleasant to look at like Scribes or Textmate. In the end, although the aesthetic of the editor is important it’s not a deal breaker. I’ve always been intimidated by VIM and Emacs due to the sheer number of commands and skill that it takes to get the most out of them. I’m ready to make the time investment so I can take my productivity to the next level. For others, VIM’s use of modes to switch between operations can be disconcerting.

An oft cited advantage of using Vi/VIM is that it is less strenuous on the hands therefore it reduces the chances of repetitive strains on the hands which can lead to long term injury. I like it because I can stay in the home row on the keyboard instead of using the arrow keys to move around in the file.

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