Learning the VIM Text Editor

Part of being a software developer is using the right tools. What the right tools are depend on what you’re doing and your personal preference.

The topic of text editors is one where a lot comes down to personal preference. These days, I like to use VSCode for most of my tasks, but I also still like using VIM too.

Compared to VSCode, VIM has a steeper learning curve but climbing it pays off eventually. I learned it in 2013 when I was about to become a Ruby developer. Before, I was exclusively using Visual Studio to write Windows applications.

Why is VIM such a big deal though? It helps to practice navigating and editing by only using keyboard shortcuts. Initially, it’s clumsy but then after some practice it’s a significant increase in productivity.

The other advantage is: VIM works on the command line! In my Visual Studio days I barely used the command line, let alone using it for editing files. After learning Ruby that changed, because the applications I worked on were mostly web applications and had to be deployed on remote servers. These machines don’t come with a graphical user interface – only SSH access. And sometimes it’s necessary to edit a file directly on the machine. VIM is usually preinstalled on most Linux distributions, therefore I could use it right away for editing files.

Are you interested in learning VIM too? Great! I created a small Zine from Sketchnotes I’ve published on Instagram a while ago. Download it below: