Trying out learning more Vim on demand

April 19, 2021

These days, I have a reasonably active interest in learning more Vim. Mostly I've done it by reading articles about Vim (eg, and I'm keeping an index). Sadly, a lot of the time this reading doesn't really stick. Recently I have been trying another approach, one that feels really obvious. When I want to do something, such as capitalize uppercase a number of words, I'll go do an Internet search for the answer (here [vim capitalize uppercase word], which immediately leads to a stackoverflow answer that's actually summarized right on the results page of the dominant search engine).

(I don't search for everything. Some things I want to do strike me as either too infrequent or too complex.)

The advantage of this is that it is what you could call highly motivated learning (I want to do this) and I reinforce it right away by using what I just read. If it doesn't entirely stick and this is something I do frequently enough, I'll soon re-do the search, re-read what I already read, and reinforce my memories. Perhaps sooner or later it will stick. If it's not something I do regularly it'll probably fade away, and I haven't wasted too much time on the search instead of doing whatever operation by hand (such as cw'ing the word and retyping it in CAPS).

There are two drawbacks to this approach that I can see (and probably some that I don't). The first is that this works much better on operators (such as gU to uppercase something) than on motions (in common vim jargon I believe these are called 'verbs' and 'nouns' respectively). It's natural to want to do an operation while not knowing how to; it feels less natural to want to move around or select in a new and unusual way. Second (and relatedly), this only works for things that I think are likely to be within Vim's capabilities. If I have no idea that Vim might even do something, I'm not going to try to look for it.

(An example of both at once is my stumbling over visual mode. I'm pretty sure it would never have struck me to do an Internet search for it.)

The second issue suggests that I should keep reading about general Vim features, so I have a broad idea of what Vim is capable of. Then I have a better chance of realizing that Vim probably has a way of doing the specific thing I care about right now, and looking it up.

Written on 19 April 2021.
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Last modified: Mon Apr 19 23:15:07 2021
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