Why I Use Vim (And Why You Should Too)

In a world dominated by feature-rich integrated development environments (IDEs), Vim stands as a contrasting alternative, offering a powerful and lightweight text editing experience. While IDEs provide convenience and abstraction, they may hinder a developer’s growth by obscuring the inner workings of the programs they build. This opinion article delves into the reasons why I choose Vim over popular IDEs, highlighting its efficient motion-based navigation, speed, and the broader exploration it encourages.

1.  Motion-Based Efficiency: Traditional text editors often require hand movements away from the home row, disrupting the typing flow. Vim’s use of intuitive keyboard motions eliminates this drawback by keeping your hands comfortably in place. With Vim, you can navigate, edit, and perform commands with unparalleled speed, effortlessly moving through code or text using customizable keybindings. By minimizing physical strain and optimizing hand movement, Vim promotes a more ergonomic and efficient editing experience.

Precise editing in Vim

2.  Empowering Navigation: Vim’s navigation capabilities are unparalleled. Through its modal editing system, which includes modes like normal, insert, and visual, Vim grants users the ability to traverse files, search for specific patterns, and manipulate text swiftly and precisely. The extensive range of navigation commands allows you to be exactly where you want to be in your codebase at the speed of thought, enabling seamless movement and effortless contextual understanding.

Quick navigation of complex file structures in Vim

3.  Understanding the Underlying Processes: While IDEs provide powerful debugging and automation features, they often abstract away the intricate details of program execution. Vim, being a lightweight text editor, encourages a deeper understanding of the underlying processes. By relying more on the command line and core utilities, you gain insights into how your code interacts with the operating system and become proficient in utilizing the full potential of your computer. This comprehensive understanding enhances your troubleshooting abilities and helps you craft more efficient and optimized solutions.

The terminal can do anything and everything

4.  The Journey of Exploration: Adopting Vim is not merely a change of text editor but a journey of exploration. By immersing yourself in the Vim ecosystem, you become exposed to a vast community of passionate users and developers. The journey fosters curiosity, pushing you to explore and master various Vim plugins, configurations, and command-line tools. Moreover, the increased reliance on the command line and core utilities encourages a deeper understanding of the Unix philosophy and a broader skill set, making you more adept at managing your entire computing environment.

Comparing the time it takes to learn and the productivity gains

Choosing Vim over popular IDEs is not merely a preference; it’s a decision to embrace efficiency, understanding, and exploration. Vim’s motion-based efficiency, empowering navigation, and encouragement of deeper understanding set it apart from the crowd. By embarking on the journey of Vim, you unlock a world of unparalleled speed, contextual awareness, and mastery over your coding environment. Embrace the challenge, dedicate time to learn Vim, and witness the transformation it brings to your productivity and appreciation of the intricacies of software development.

Now if you want to get started with Vim, here’s some things you need to know first.

  1. Vim vs Vim Motions

Vim is the actual text editor, Vim motions are the efficient movement commands that Vim uses.  You can install plugins for almost any editor enabling Vim motions, giving you almost the same feel as the real Vim.

Try out the Vim plugin right now in VSCode!

  1. Vim vs Neovim

Vim is a long-standing text editor with a vast plugin ecosystem, while Neovim is a modern fork of Vim that focuses on extensibility, improved performance, and compatibility with Vim plugins.

I highly recommend Neovim over the original Vim, it’s just better in every way.

Links to start learning Vim today:

  1. ThePrimeagen (a senior Netflix Engineer) has a great introduction video to Vim Vim As Your Editor – Introduction
  1. TJ DeVries (a core maintainer of Neovim) has a more advanced video about configuring Neovim Effective Neovim: Instant IDE

If you have any questions or would just like to learn more about how I use Vim in my day to day workflow please feel free to reach out to connect@geo-jobe.com

Jr. Developer