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Discussion on: Vim won't make you a more productive developer

primercuervo profile image
Nicolas Cuervo

When the discussion comes to the point where it is "would you recommend Vim or not" I think of an analogy that I like to use: it's like recommending a bike over a car.

It might be an overly simplified analogy, and it goes together with the fact that I love my bike as much as I love vim, but it goes like this:

Vim is my bike, a car is an IDE, and your text/code is your distance. Short distance might be a script, a long distance might be a project.

With the bike you can get around. You choose short distances when you are starting, and you fall. A LOT. The better you get, the longer you ride. If you loved it, you'll love it more. If you didn't, then riding isn't your thing. You start tweaking your bike: did you choose a road bike over a mountain bike for your daily commute? that's fine, but ride. After you ride your custom bike, you don't want to use the same bike you used at the beginning. Your bike is yours and only yours. Then, you start using it for more than commuting. You ride it for fun, you do day trips, or even week trips. You use it in distances other rather go by car, but it doesn't matter, you enjoy it. And sure, you brag about it.

The car is something different. It's heavy duty. It comes with all the goodies you might need for long distances. You need to learn how to drive, sure. There are a couple of controls, you can go fast or slow, but as long as you don't get crazy you won't crash. You are surrounded by safety, sit back and strap on. Have a long distance to drive? it might come with a GPS, you just drive. (Sure, you can use a GPS with the bike, just as well as you can install an autocomplete plugin in Vim).

Some bikers can't wrap their head around people driving to starbucks and back. Some drivers are tired of the bikers bragging saying how biking is better than driving for "all the wrong reasons". Others, just choose the right transport for their commute. Sometimes you might want to ride, some other times you need to go across the country carrying a bunch of luggage, for which the car just works.

For me, it isn't about arriving, it is about enjoying the ride. Would I recommend vim? sure, why not? try it. Just know that, unlike when learning how to drive, you do fall from the bike.

klaernie profile image
Andre Klärner

Really well expressed!

I myself prefer nowadays PHPStorm for PHP development, but everything else is done in vim. The key point for me is how easy it is to script changes by recording macros and automating tedious refactorings. After all I already dug through 100k of ancient Perl code and could not have survived this without and editor that simply works.

What I most miss in these discussions is always the fact, that development environments are different. I would love to build all my software on one machine, locally and my bespoke editor config. But my reality is, that I have to analyze and debug my code on a couple thousand servers, where it simply is impractical to always have your config with you.

So my best tip for everyone: memorize the three most important settings (:syntax on, :set bg=dark and :colorscheme desert are these three for me) so you are neither blinded nor disgusted when moving systems quickly. And while the perfect setup might have vim-airline and zenburn, you can at least live on a remote system without going nuts.

primercuervo profile image
Nicolas Cuervo

Agreed. I believe that the title of the article is a bit misleading, as Vim can indeed make you more productive! if you choose if for the right task, and know your way around it. The more experienced you are, the broader range of tasks you can do productively.

The last part of your comment is also on point: if there are customization-elements that make your experience easier in a session on a remote/different machine then learning them will make your life easier. It can be even added to my analogy: if you get a bike while you visit someone else, what's the first thing you do? You set the settle to your height, probably change the gear, so that it feels comfortable. You can also drive without doing any of this, sure, but it will be a pain.

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