Two weeks with Vim

My first experience with Vim was more than 10 years ago, at the university. We had some laboratory work to do, my mate had just discovered Vim, and was thrilled about it. I was more of an Emacs person, and I just didn't get "that odd spartan editor". C-x C-s was esoteric enough, plus you should bear in mind that I was used to the Spanish shortcuts, so our "Save" isn't Ctrl+S but Ctrl+G, from "Guardar". Whenever I attempted to type anything in the computer, I would mess things up, or nothing would happen. Obviously, he did all the typing while I (sometimes) dictated!

Years later one of my work mates was Australian. He was odd in every level: not only did he like and understand Perl, but also seemed to speak a bit of Japanese, loved surfing and went as far as going down to Cornwall right in the middle of February. Needless to say, he came back with a cold which lasted until the end of the following month. But even then, he insisted on working in Vim instead of using Eclipse.

I paid close attention whenever I had opportunity. He showed me the "/" trick (for searching). I began to use it quite a lot, specially when browsing logs (because Vim was the only program able to withstand mammoth-size logs). I then asked him how would he copy and paste anything in Vim --it was something that mystified me. He started talking about visual modes, yanking, cutting... and my brain simply refused to collaborate.

I attempted to learn Vim several times since then, I promise. But every single time it ended up in frustration. I would try to follow any of the multiple recommended tutorials or quickstart guides but I would always mess things up again and would have to press ESC and q! to avoid ruining my work, then opening things with gedit or any other editor.

Until a couple weeks ago, when I found a site dedicated to teaching Vim in a nice way: vimcasts. I went to the archive and watched the episodes from the beginning. Now that made sense!

In a couple of hours I not only understood Vim but I had written my own .vimrc config file with the settings I like in an editor. Few days later, I was even using macros! And of course I learnt how to copy and paste, and indent and un-indent, use tabs, multiple windows, cycle between them, minimize/maximize windows, etc. All thanks to vimcasts \o/

It's a bit slow to develop what they call "the Vim muscle memory". I notice that specially on the evening, when I'm tired and slip a few ^S for saving or ^V for pasting. Apart from that, I find funny that sometimes I inadvertently use Vim shortcuts in other programs; e.g. I press ESC and :w in Eclipse :-)

On the other hand (and that has never been more literal), working with Vim does wonders for my right hand --thanks to hardly using the mouse! My pains were quite alleviated when I switched to using a Wacom mouse, and then with a Mighty mouse it wasn't bad either (mostly because it's lighter than the Wacom mouse), but at the end of the day it still hurts sometimes.

So if you wanted to learn Vim but it seemed too hard, do have a look at vimcasts and see if that works for you. Good luck and happy and comfortable typing everyone!