Sep 01


vim - the editorFor those of us who started our computing careers with Unix, or a Unix variant, or who were introduced to the system at university, some time in the 1980s, you will have been introduced to the joys (or evils?) of the editor vi. While idiosyncratic, there’s no doubt that vi is, like its predecessor TECO and the like, an extremely powerful text editor. However, it’s a “love-or-hate” program, with idiosyncratic key combinations that must be learned before you can do any real work.

Vim – “VI iMproved” – clones vi very nicely, and responds in the same way any vi afficionado would expect. It also adds a nice Windows GUI to it, with lots of mouse support. And sure, it’s not the easiest editor in the world (just changing the default font requires editing a hidden file), but even so it’s a powerful text editor that’s actually a lot easier to learn than you might think.

One of the really nice things about vim though, especially in its Windows incarnation, is its ability to handle big files. Really big files. You know – the sort of stuff that you open with Notepad and then immediately let out an anguished cry of “why” as, yet again, your system grinds to a halt. Vim’s a little bit more clever than that. Not only does it handle large files rather more gracefully than Notepad, it also remembers where you got to last time.

Better yet, it does syntax highlighting on a plethora of file formats (over 200 according to the vim site – I don’t have the patience to count them). It automatically indents. It folds text away. It does split editing. It comes with full help files. It runs on a heap of systems – binaries are available for Windows, Dos, MacOS, Amiga, OS/2, Android, QNX, RiscOS – oh, check the tags, you know where we list this stuff by now.

And it’s free, of course.

Well, actually, it’s not (even though it is). It is, if you want it to be, donation ware. If you like vim enough that you use it, you’re invited to donate – to orphanages in Uganda, a cause close to the author’s heart. So, for the first time on emudir, we’re encouraging you go pay for something. Bet you never thought you’d see us do THAT, did you?

Download page: http://www.vim.org/download.php

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