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Getting to Know VIM

by Joel Hooks

It’s like coming full circle.

When I was first introduced to computers, they very much resembled what I see in Terminal today. I’ve always had a distinct fondness for the command line interface. That said, when I started using computers professionally most of my time has been spent in fancy GUIs. Perhaps because of the roots of my obsession I still have an affinity for these text based interfaces.

For the past several years, I’ve been constantly poking at vim. I’ve gone from struggling to remember the :wq sequence to trying my damndest to use hjkl instead of my arrow keys. I’ve used vim movement cheatsheets as desktop backgrounds, and stopped using ‘crutches’ like nano when I’m working on a server via ssh.

This year, I’ve decided to go full bore with vim. When I’m editing text, I want to default to vim instead of the many other GUI options I tend to enjoy day to day.

And I’m having some success!

The excellent Practical Vim has been extremely helpful. The single most important thing I’ve done this go-around is to completely remove all of the dotfiles I’ve accumulated over the years. Some custom bits with Janus installed on top of that. Janus is awesome, but I also had absolutely no idea what was going on. It installs all of the ‘essential’ plugins, but it is too much. I was generally left hunting and pecking and doing things poorly.

So I stripped it down, and have been in the process of building up my own dotfiles line by line.

It now feels like a tipping point has been reached. I have some core understanding of my editor, how it works, and what options are available. I plan on documenting this process, including which tools have been useful so far. Ultimately my interest in vim lies with using it in conjunction with tmux (rad terminal multiplexer) to create a truly unixy command line development environment.

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