I’ve been using Vim as my editor for the past couple years, and just like most people who use it, I’ve grown to live and die by it. Vim is a wonderful text editor specifically geared towards coding (even though I’m known to use it for building shopping lists, and other gangster….lists), and you should really check it out if you work with the Linux terminal a lot.
Let’s review what Vim is. Vim is a modal text editor that is incredibly customizable – you can pick your own color schemes, look and feel, key mappings, plugins, and even build your own plugins as well. Modal means that vim has different modes such as insert, visual, and normal mode. Due to these different modes, vim allows you to never have to use the mouse to interact – it’s all keyboard (this might blow your mind if you’ve never heard of this concept before). People use Vim for a variety of reasons, and usually don’t ever look back once they’ve started using it. Let’s review why you should start using Vim, if you don’t already:
- Vim makes you lightning fast
It’s true, the top reason people love vim is because once you’ve gotten decently good at it, you become so quick at editing code. Vim is also a skill that you can keep getting better at, so that means you can keep getting faster and faster. Being able to completely, and I mean completely, code all day without ever having to lift a single finger off of your keyboard….that’s power, my friend. Raw power
- Vim is super customizable
Yes, I’m sure your editor allows you to choose color themes. If you’re using one of the proprietary text editors like TextMate and Sublime Text, I’m sure you are granted a lot of customizable options as well, but vim…it’s just different. Sure you can customize your colors and key shortcuts, but that’s just baby steps. Vim has such a following of developers that build cool plugins…it’s just amazing. You can find such powerful plugins (and powerful pre-built combinations of plugins like Janus or spf13) that allow you to do exactly what you need, with nothing but a few keystrokes. Heck, you can even develop your own plugins if you’re badass enough.
- Vim is cross-platform completely (Even for you Windows guys)
You can use Vim on any platform – Windows. Mac OS, and all the Linux distributions. TextMate is a popular editor (costs about $50), but it only works on Mac. Sublime Text is also a big editor that is indeed cross-platform too, but still costs a good $70ish bucks for a full license to use it. This leads me to my next point…
- Vim is absolutely free
No Gimmicks. Nuff’ said here.
- Vim is used in the terminal itself
This might not be as a big of a deal to some developers, but if you program on a VPS that uses linux (sorry TextMate), then it’s often much easier to do everything you need to by just ssh-ing into your server and coding straight from the terminal. This is where vim is in its native environment, and thrives like a pure machine. Sure, vim has a graphical version as well (MacVim for Mac OS, GVim for everything else), but it’s basically the same as Vim with a larger default color sets. If you do own a VPS and don’t use vim, then I really recommend you look into it.
There are many more reasons why you could and would want to use vim, but if I haven’t convinced you already, then nothing’s gonna do it. Do some googling on vim though and see if you want to check it out. If you do, then stay tuned; the next blog post will be on the best ways to learn Vim (and trust me, there’s a bunch of them).