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Minimal blog about IT

Why I need VIM?

2020-04-10 5 min read 3sky

+++ draft = false date = 2020-04-10T20:30:02Z title = “Why I need VIM?” description = “Short story about legendary tool” topics = [“Tools”] +++

Welcome

During quarantine, I expected to have more time. Unfortunately I fall in love with making Neapolitan Style pizza, sourdough based bread, and homemade tortillas. However, also I decided to master VIM. But why? I would like to explain it in a few words.

What’s is VIM

Vim is a highly configurable text editor built to enable efficient text editing. It is an improved version of the vi editor distributed with most UNIX systems. Vim is often called a “programmer’s editor,” and so useful for programming that many consider it an entire IDE. It’s not just for programmers, though. Vim is perfect for all kinds of text editing, from composing an email to editing configuration files. Despite what the above comic suggests, Vim can be configured to work in a very simple (Notepad-like) way, called evim or Easy Vim.

So why I decided to use it

Vim is almost on every modern Linux system

We can find Vim on MacOS, most of Linux distro as Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora. It’s a default text editor for BSD. So it’s almost everywhere.

Vim is fast and highly configurable

Do you ever pay attention to the start-up time of VSC or Atom. Vim is faster. Even with many themes, plugin, etc. Config is still one file.

Vim has a lot of fantastic plugins

Vim has a lot of plugin from text highlining and auto-completion to Go/Flutter/Jenkinsfile support. And still, the package manager takes care of everything. You can change machine, download .vimrc run :PluginInstall and get the same setup as at home/work/school. That is awesome. Try to do this with VSC.

Regular IDEs require mause usage

I’m working on 12,5" ThinkPad x270, so taking care about freeport(Yes I have only one USB port) and the mouse is a waste of energy. I can work from everywhere and keybindings become very natural. Especially when I switch to qutebrowser. My IT life started to be very comfortable and time-effective.

Macros

In Vim is possible to record your macro with just two moves, for example part of Wiki

Given some data like the following:

one    first example
two    second example
three    third example
four    fourth example

Suppose you want to change the data to make a dictionary for a Python program, with this result:

The following shows one way to record a suitable macro.

Put the cursor on the first line. Type qd (the q starts recording; the d is the register where keys will be recorded). Type the following command to change the first the sequence of whitespace to “': ‘":

:s/\s\+/': ' (then press Enter)

Type the following to insert four spaces followed by “'” at the start of the line:

I    ' (then press Escape)

Type the following to append “’,” to the line:

A', (then press Escape)

Type the following to move the cursor to the start of the line, then down to the next line:

0j (or press Enter)

Type q to stop recording the macro. The cursor should now be on the second line. Type @d to playback the macro once. That should change the second line, with the cursor finishing on the third line. Type [email protected]@ to finish

And buum magic:

data = {
    'one': 'first example',
    'two': 'second example',
    'three': 'third example',
    'four': 'fourth example',
}

Flutter support

I planning to work with a mobile app and I decided that Flutter could be a nice tool for my needs. Unfortunately, Android Studio is so big, and slow, and resources consuming. Here comes Vim with plugins, shortcuts , and minimal hardware requirements. It’s just working, that my whole Flutter config.

"" Flutter
Plug 'thosakwe/vim-flutter'
Plug 'dart-lang/dart-vim-plugin'
Plug 'natebosch/vim-lsc'
Plug 'natebosch/vim-lsc-dart'
let g:lsc_auto_map = v:true


"" Flutter keys
noremap <Leader>df :<C-u>:DartFmt<CR>
noremap <Leader>frun :<C-u>:FlutterRun<CR>
noremap <Leader>fr :<C-u>:FlutterHotReload<CR>
noremap <Leader>frs :<C-u>:FlutterHotRestart<CR>
noremap <Leader>fq :<C-u>:FlutterQuit<CR>

Vim support mdl, flake, linters

When I’m writing this post I have buildin mdl support, just after tool installation. It works the same with python’s flake8, golinters etc. I don’t like this feeling when VCS starts to download some stuff and I have no idea what’s happened. Here I have full control.

Keybindings and buffers

I don’t like NERDTree, I prefer standard buffers. They are faster and give better control on files under usage. Short examples:

  • When I want to go to the end of the line:

    A(Shift+a)
    
  • When I copy line:

    V, y(Shift+v, next y)
    
  • When I past line:

    p(just p)
    
  • Beginning of file:

    gg(double g)
    
  • End of file:

    G(Shift+g)
    
  • Line 123 with error on it:

    :123<Enter>
    
  • Change the word with confirmation:

    :%s/old_word/new_word/gc
    

That’s sweet, isn’t it?

Summary

So that’s why I’m learning Vim, I don’t like Emacs, because is a bit heavier, and require downloading. The rest of popular IDE like VSC or Atom are too slow, and configuration is annoying. Sublime Text is nice but isn’t free. So I decided to switch. The learning curve is not very flat, but in my opinion, it only requires some willingness. However when I need to write some Java code I still prefer IntelliJ, but for Go/Python/Clojure stuff Vim probably becomes my tool of choice. Even working with Markdown, YAML, HCL, and Flutter(Dart) is very handy and smooth. So I recommend at least make some attempts to feel like Hollywood’s hacker, maybe you will stay a bit longer.

btw. I have some delays… I will deliver stuff related to Terraform, Docker Python API, Ansible, and Flutter, but it requires some time. Even this small post took almost 2h… but stay tuned.