Mark Pearl

A while back read a book called the “pragmatic programmer”. Great book and I highly recommend – A section in the book was titled “Power Editing” and a suggestion they made was to have one editor. The motivation being that it is better to know one editor very well, and use it for all editing tasks: code, documentations, memos, etc. I buy into this concept – up to this point I work primarily in Visual Studio and do any other text editing in notepad or programmers notepad and while I have been able to get what I need done, I don’t think it is particularly the easiest or quickest way to do things – to put it bluntly I am no expert with programmers notepad and windows notepad it dismal for any power actions. So after thinking about the whole one editor concept I came to the decision that it was time I try something new and pick an editor I would have never thought of in the past.

After much thought I chose Vim, partly because it smells of that Linux world I just never have been able to get in to and partly because I wanted to try a text editor that is available on multiple operating system platforms. One thing about Vim is it is uber controversial – I have never come across someone who is indifferent about it – they either love it or absolutely hate it. So with that in mind I thought the easiest way to learn vim would be to find a windows version of it and see how it goes. A quick search revealed that I was in luck and I downloaded the 64 bit windows version ready to go…

So after installing Vim I found that I had several options, a classic vim editor and a easy vim editor. Anyone who opens vim for the first time in classic mode is presented with the most non-windows based environment possible – basically just a console window with no toolbar or anything… this can be quite daunting and so I decided to opt for the easy vim route – it looked slightly less daunting and at least had a toolbar.

Learning VIM – A windows fanboy’s progression from despair to hope - Windows Liv_2011-11-05_14-07-44 Learning VIM – A windows fanboy’s progression from despair to hope - Windows Liv_2011-11-05_14-07-18

First three weeks

My first three weeks were really painful – I don’t think anyone could have developed a more non-windows application. Even copying and pasting was clunky and uncomfortable and several times I began to doubt whether I had made a good decision. To put it this way, it took me almost a week to realize that there was an editor and a command mode and the keys to toggle between the two. To make things worse, all of the online tutorials I had read were targeted towards the classic vim and unless I was missing something the easy vim didn’t seem to work exactly that way…

So, after three weeks I would have canned the whole experiment to return happily to Programmers Notepad – it seemed like I was fast becoming one of those people that swears at vim instead of by it. Then a few days ago I saw a great tutorial that ran me through the basics of vim on the open vim website. For the first time I began to understand the different modes of vim and how to do basic navigation.

So after three weeks of hell I have decided to give vim one more time. This time I am going to can the easy vim option and get straight into normal vim. My motivation for this is that vim is definitely command orientated and if I truly want to understand how it works I need to embrace that fact and get over the fact that there are no shiny buttons for now.

I am going to give vim till the end of 2011, and then review the situation. If I still have not seen the light by then, then I will consider this a failed experiment and revert back to programmers notepad.

If anyone has any suggestions on tutorials that would help beginners or what helped them with vim please let me know.

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