Writing on the principles & practice of building digital products

Why it's worth learning Vim

A letter to myself 6 months ago.

Dear me,

I get it. You know how to use Sublime and like to think you're pretty good with it. You've got enough on your plate without learning a 20 year old text editor which is going to slow you down for a while. There are deadlines to think of.

I hear you James. Really, I do. But here's why you're wrong:

  1. You'll be much, much more efficient than in Sublime
  2. This will make you better at your job
  3. There's loads of great plugins
  4. It's totally themeable and can be made to look awesome
  5. It's full of amazing little tricks to help you with laborious things
  6. You'll become a better typist
  7. It's the last text editor you'll ever have to learn

"Vim screenshot" Screenshot of Vim being awesome

That said, there are a few things you should know before you start.

  1. If you can afford to, use the upcase.com tutorials to learn. They're video based and awesome. If you can't just use vimtutor and practice.
  2. You need to delete Sublime and just use Vim. It's the only way.
  3. Use iTerm2
  4. It will be incredibly slow and incredibly annoying for the first day or so
  5. It will be quite slow and quite annoying for another 2 weeks
  6. It will be amazing from then on
  7. Learn tmux (also through upcase) shortly after Vim. It makes terminal/iterm much faster to work with.

There are a few Vim plugins which will make life easier (install them with Pathogen). None of them are absolutley critical, mind you neither is central heating but I think we can all agree it's a pretty good idea.

Bottom line, it's worth your time to learn Vim. I promise you.

Yours sincerely,
Future You