Customer Review

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How To Really Learn Vim, January 29, 2011
This review is from: Learning the vi and Vim Editors (Paperback)
I use TextMate for writing code and for most text editing while I'm on the Mac (although I'm editing this review with MacVim version 7.3, otherwise I'd feel dirty). Everywhere else I use vi and Vim (Windows/Linux/OpenBSD/etc.) I spent years using Emacs and gradually made the shift to Vim a few years ago. I found Vim to be lighter weight and easier to configure than Emacs. Anyway, if you're tackling an uber-editor like Vim, you need a really great book. For Vim, that book is "Learning the vi and Vim Editors".

The book initially introduces you to vi and ex, giving you the most basic commands. Pay attention to these first few chapters as it lays the foundation for the rest of the book. You'll move on to learn about global replacement and the power of regular expressions in the context of text replace commands. A short chapter is devoted to advanced editing features and takes you through basic vi customizations, how to execute Unix commands, how to filter text within vi through Unix commands, abbreviations to simplify repetitious typing, mapping keys to simplify repetitious keystrokes, and some basic ex scripting.

A very brief chapter introduces you to the major vi clones. Then, a really beefy section spanning chapters 9 through 15, covering 159 pages, takes you through Vim in great detail. All the major differences between vi and Vim are discussed. You'll learn about multi-window editing, the specifics of Vim scripting, GVim (the GUI version of Vim), and Vim enhancements related to software developers.

Following the Vim section of the book, there are small chapters that describe each of the other major vi clones, including nvi, elvis and vile. Near the end of the book, you'll find the appendixes crammed full of vi and ex commands. Additionally, there is a brief section on setttings for vi, nvi, elvis, Vim and vile. As if that's not enough, the final appendix throws in some comic strips for a little vi humor [...]

I was actually suprised to find a lack on information on both registers and macros. Vim has support for these two extremely useful features, yet the book does not go into detail. Of course, the book does cover the help system, and if there is anything you want to know about Vim, you'll find it well documented in the help system. Learning to use the help system is a key to learning the editor and becoming more proficient by being able to take advantage of its features.

If you've never worked with a truly powerful text editor, prepare to be enlightened. Spend the time necessary to really learn your editor (whatever it may be) and it will pay a huge dividend in return. If you choose to take on the power of vi or Vim (or any other vi-like editor), equip yourself with this book to help guide you through the learning curve.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 6, 2011 7:28:07 PM PST
TOPJOB7 says:
Since you are familiar with the vim help system, I'm curious, what did you get from this book that isn't in the help system? Is it worth buying the book?

In reply to an earlier post on May 6, 2012 8:35:37 AM PDT
I realize this comment is almost a year after the original question. This is to help future explorers that come across this question.

Vim's help is much like a dictionary. Great if you know the word you are trying to utilize but not so great otherwise. When you don't know what you don't know (:helpgrep "subject") Vim's help system is a bit daunting to the uninitiated.

The book, and others like it, are good for familiarizing yourself with features so that you can dissect Vim's online help system and gradually use nothing else. It is a bootstrapping issue to the new user - once you get familiar with Vim you don't need anything else but getting familiar almost dictates you look for external information. It is *my* opinion this is where this book, and others like it, bring value.
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