the corner office

a blog, by Colin Pretorius


Russ Olsen has a post Seven Skeleton Keys For the New Unix User. I quite enjoy his comment about Unix's de facto text editor, vi:

The problem with vi is not, as many people think, that it is hard to use. No, vi is easy to use. What it is is hard to learn.

I've always been a bit of a ham-fisted vi user, knowing enough to not hurt myself when tweaking config files and the like, but not much more. A little while ago I started a bit of a 'skool me unix' thing as a sub-hobby, and decided to use vi as my 'IDE' for any C system-level programming I did. Living the Unix dream and all that.

It's quite a change from a normal GUI-based IDE, but the truth is that vi (or more correctly, vim) can do just about everything you'd normally do with a GUI. The one thing I learned is that you really have to take the time, and keep making the time, to learn new features. If you do that, you find that you can do certain things incredibly efficiently, but at the same time, it's all too easy to flub around, getting frustrated while battling to accomplish simple editing tasks, and end up believing that the program is backwards.

Having said that, I still spend a lot of time using Eclipse's CDT plug-in as well, and I think that on balance, my brain still prefers the GUI way. Being able to use vi properly is not a bad skill to have, though.

{2006.05.25 16:19}

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