A question for developers

Chad Perrin perrin at apotheon.com
Sat Jul 25 07:09:50 UTC 2009

On Fri, Jul 24, 2009 at 10:49:10PM -0400, Steve Bertrand wrote:
> Forgive the verbosity.
> Before anything else, I'd appreciate it if my requirements were actually
> read before providing any feedback. I know that there are qualified
> persons here to legitimately answer my question, so if a flame war does
> ensue, I ask that you refrain from responding.


What you describe as your requirements sounds exactly like vi, or some
variant of it -- the most popular of which is Vim.  FreeBSD comes with
nvi by default, though, and if you find you don't care about Vim's
additional features, you may want to use that instead.  Note that nvi
doesn't support syntax highlighting though, last I checked.

I know some people might read your list of requirements and claim that
emacs is as good a fit as vi, but beg to differ for at least two specific

1. You mentioned wanting to be able to move around easily with a single
keystroke.  The keystroke count for various operations tends to be
slightly greater in emacs than in vi.

2. You mentioned wanting to stay close to home row.  The truth is that vi
and emacs are almost precisely on par here, for the most part, but I
think that the key chording requirements of common emacs operation does
cause the fingers to stray from home row on a QWERTY keyboard a bit more
than vi's tendency to stick to single-key commands a lot more.

It's just my good luck that I happen to prefer vi/Vim over emacs myself,
while your requirements also seem to favor vi/Vim.

I wrote an introduction to productive use of Vim a while back in my
personal Weblog.  It is most emphatically *not* a tutorial -- it doesn't
tell you what commands you need to know to use it or give you tips and
tricks for getting specific things done, really.  What it does is discuss
in very general terms useful approaches to doing things like starting
Vim, saving and exiting while using it, taking advantage of the vi modal
editing paradigm, and learning more about it over time.  It's sort of a
lesson in learning how to use Vim, rather than a direct lesson in how to
use it, if that makes any sense.

Without further ado, here it is:


I hope that helps.

Chad Perrin [ original content licensed OWL: http://owl.apotheon.org ]
Quoth Larry Wall: "It's more important to be a good driver than to have
seven feet of sponge rubber all around your car."
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