Hello and welcome to another weekly post. This week I want to talk about text editing. Very exciting.
In terms of non-graphical text editors many people (especially Linux users) would be familiar with Nano, which is a great program, but there is something better.
VIM (Vi IMproved), based on the good old Vi text editor is an open source and very powerful tool, sometimes considered an entire IDE, although it can be used as a general purpose text editor. However, with power knowledge is needed, as VIM’s website points out:
“Vim isn’t an editor designed to hold its users’ hands. It is a tool, the use of which must be learned.”
This is what scares people the most when they open up VIM. They try to type something in and weird stuff happens. Learning the art of VIM is not difficult though. VIM even ships with a tutorial that will guide you through the steps of becoming a VIM expert. The text-based tutorial takes about 30 minutes to complete and that is allowing time for you to practise the steps in each lesson. After just those 30 minutes I was hooked. VIM has so much functionality for a non-graphical text editor: syntax highlighting, auto-indentation, line numbers, it even allows you to view and edit two or more files side-by-side. But one great thing about VIM for me, as I am a touch-typist, is that you don’t have to move your hands around the keyboard. Most functionality can be achieved by just moving your fingers. This makes for very fast editing of files. This takes touch-typing to a whole new level.
There’s so much more I could say about VIM but I will let you explore for yourself. Go download it, it’s free! If you’re on a Mac you should already have a (rather outdated) version (and who says Mac OS X doesn’t have a proper text editor). If you’re on linux you may have it. Otherwise you might have the boring old Vi. There is also a Windows version available, which comes with a graphical frontend. There are also graphical frontends for Linux and Mac, which you may want to download to add full functionality to VIM. So, go try it!