Before I tell you the advantages of knowing and controlling a text editor like Vim, I have to make clear that I am not trying to convince you. It is not my intention, far from it.
That you want to use Vim has to be born from you, like anything else in this life. Everything that is imposed or forced, generates a reaction of equal force but in the opposite direction.
You have to be the one who realizes the advantages it brings you or not. Maybe it is simply not your time to learn how to use Vim. Either because you don’t need it now, or because you don’t need it ever, or at least that’s what you think.
It is also true that if you don’t write often, or you don’t write much, it is likely that the ratio between the cost of learning Vim and the advantages you will get, is very unbalanced. But as the saying goes, knowledge has no place.
That said, and based on my own experience, I feel more comfortable writing with Vim than with LibreOffice, to tell you an Open Source editor, or with Microsoft Office, to tell you a proprietary one.
I feel more comfortable because I am more productive, I don’t waste so much time, scrolling the mouse to simply make a text bold or italic, although of course, there are keyboard shortcuts. I am not distracted, I am focused on what is important, on the generation of a document, of a content.
But there is not only productivity, there is also mental agility. To learn to use Vim is to learn a language with its names, verbs, etc.
So, instead of scrolling with the mouse in search of the three words you want to delete, you will simply press d3w (delete 3 words), and you will have it solved.
In Vim as in everything in this life, you can solve a given problem in different ways.
But in Vim, as in life, the trick is to solve it in as few steps as possible. And this really motivates me.
Be that as it may, I invite you to enter the wonderful world of Vim.
WHY LEARN VIM?
Now that in the introduction, I have made it clear that I did not want to convince you to use Vim, I will try to give you the necessary and sufficient reasons to convince yourself that you need Vim, as much or more than the air you breathe… (maybe I have gone too far here…).
1. FOR SYSTEM ADMINISTRATORS
It is very likely that you ask yourself why you have to learn VIM when there are text editors like Microsoft Office or LibreOffice? Or in case you are a programmer, why learn VIM when you have Visual Studio Code? It’s a good question. Of course, if you are a system administrator, knowing an editor like VIM is a must, since you will find it on the machines you administer, and it is a powerful editor that will allow you to create and modify configuration files, for example.
You are probably thinking that I will always have nano. However, this is not always the case, not on all machines you will find nano installed. You would install it, of course, but if you are in an intervention, are you really going to install nano?
And for the record, I have nothing against nano. I think it’s a great editor. But, of course, the power that Vim has, nano doesn’t have.
2. FOR YOU WHO WRITE
In case you are not a system administrator, but you are concerned about your productivity, in VIM, you will find an important ally.
Above all, if you look for an additional ally like Markdown, about which I have spoken to you in innumerable occasions.
But not only if you use Markdown, if you don’t use it, you can also increase exponentially your productivity, just by learning to work with Vim, and knowing all its keyboard shortcuts and functionality.
This will improve your productivity, for two reasons. The first is that you avoid distractions and you will focus on what is important, the creation of content.
The second reason is that you will hardly touch the mouse, and this will allow you to go faster, and ultimately, as I said before, be more productive.
As I have already commented on more than one occasion, both the articles I publish and the scripts of the podcast, as almost any document I do today, including books, I do it directly in Vim.
Why? for the reasons that I have mentioned above. Productivity, simplicity, simple, practical?
3. IT IS ALWAYS AVAILABLE
I have already told you this before, and you will find Vim in practically any Linux distribution you work with.
But not only with Linux, also with MacOS. In the case of Linux distributions, it is as easy to install it as executing any of the instructions below,
Debian or Ubuntu ➡ apt install vim
RHEL or CentOS ➡ yum install vim
Fedora ➡ dnf install vim
VIM has excellent documentation. Both the one you can find all over the internet.
As the one you can find accompanying VIM itself. Once inside VIM you only have to use the :help command, to enjoy the powerful help available.
5. A LARGE COMMUNITY
One of the great advantages of the classic applications, and of the best known distributions, is always their community.
VIM is a classic, with a large community behind it. What are the advantages of a community? First, there is always someone with more knowledge than you, someone who can help you in case you have a problem.
On the other hand, in addition to the official documentation, you find dozens of tutorials, videos and articles that help you to improve and deepen your knowledge.
Of course, not everything is about taking advantage of the benefits of a community, it is also very interesting to participate and contribute to it. In the end, everything has an impact on you.
6. VIM IS CONFIGURABLE AND EXTENSIBLE
As it could not be otherwise, Vim is highly configurable and extensible. And one of the reasons for this, of course, is the time that has been with us and that has served to make it more configurable and more extensible.
There are dozens of add-ons with which to customize and adapt Vim to your needs. And it is not only about adapting, but adjusting to the millimeter, for the work you are going to perform.
Just take a look at the VimAwesome page. This way you will realize all the options you have to customize and configure Vim.
However, I recommend that you don’t overload Vim to begin with. Let’s start getting to know it as it is.
And little by little we will have time to get into this incredible world of plugins and custom configurations.
7. CODE EDITING
Of course, and this almost goes without saying, Vim supports a large number of programming languages and file formats.
Evidently it is able to detect and know the type of file you are editing, and not only by the file extension, but also, sometimes, by its content.
I don’t want to discourage you, but learning Vim is not as easy as other text editors. It has its learning curve. A curve that you will have to overcome.
But believe me when I tell you that it will be worth it, whether you need it for your work, or you want to learn it to be more productive.
Whatever your reason for learning VIM, I can assure you that it will be worth it.