Wandering Thoughts archives


My growing entanglement into vi

It started with vi becoming my sysadmin's editor, the editor that I used for quick edits because it was everywhere, worked in minimal environments, and it started fast. But of course it didn't stop there. Any good tool has a virtuous circle where more use makes you more familiar with it and thus makes it easier to use so you use it more; vi goes well beyond that in terms of rewarding extended use. Vi's march into my editing life has not been fast but it's feeling more and more relentless as time goes by, especially when I do things like specifically configure git to use vi instead of my normal default. I'm not using vi pervasively quite yet, but increasingly my major holdout (writing email in my full email environment) feels a little bit awkward.

(My normal default $EDITOR is a script that tries to intelligently pick the editor to use based on my current environment based on things like whether or not I have X available.)

This has not fundamentally changed my view of vi as a whole (it remains not my favorite editor). I am simply being seduced by convenience and familiarity, and running into the limits and issues in my major other editor. Not that vi is bad (rather the contrary), but I still miss things from my other editors and often would sort of prefer to be using them.

(Possibly this attachment to my major other editor is just emotion speaking.)

While I've been additional learning vi (well, vim) features slowly over time, I still have not really attempted to become solidly familiar with Vim's advancements over the core vi editing commands (I'm going to wave my hands about the reasons why, but see above about vi still not being my favorite editor). If I get more seriously into vi, and it seems inevitable that I will, I should probably change that. My obvious weak areas are the areas where vi itself is weak: working fluidly with multiple files and also with split screens for editing two files simultaneously. Mastering doing this in Vim would remove one significant reason that I revert to other editors.

(I will probably always edit Python, C, and Go code in GNU Emacs when I have a choice. But there is a fair amount of other multi-file work that would at least be more convenient if I knew what I was really doing in Vim.)

I know that Vim has a universe of advanced text movement and text manipulation commands but I'm honestly not sure that I feel much interest in learning them. The mere fact that there is a universe of them is kind of daunting and I have no confidence that they'd speed up the sort of editing work that I do very much. Probably some of them would, so I suppose I should at least glance over the list to see if anything stands out.

(This has come out more rambling and thinking aloud than I thought it would. I do think that there's something interesting about how vi has wormed its way into my computing life as more and more the editor I reach for, but I don't have the words for it right now.)

unix/ViEntanglement written at 02:57:39; Add Comment

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