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Hacking Vim: A Cookbook to get the Most out of the Latest Vim Editor: From personalizing Vim to productivity optimizations: Recipes to make life easier for experienced Vim users Paperback – May 25, 2007
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About the Author
Kim Schulz has an M.Sc. in Software Engineering from Aalborg University in Denmark. He has been an active developer in the Linux and Open Source communities since 1997 and has worked with everything from translation and bug fixing to producing full-blown software systems. This entire time, Vim has been Kim's editor of choice and it has been the first thing he installs whenever he sits by a new computer. Today Kim works as a full-time software engineer at CSR Plc. developing software for the next generation wireless technologies. A lot of Kim's spare time has been spent on developing the open-source CMS Fundanemt. This has lead to him now owning the web-hosting company Devteam Denmark that specializes in hosting and development of Fundanemt-based websites.
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My main problem with this book is its worse-than-conversational language. It's not just informal; it's middle school level...as if a teenager was speaking to you. I find it very hard to believe a native English speaking editor with a real command of the language ever even looked at it. I don't have a problem with the informal style common to technical books--proper English isn't typically the priority of the engineers that write them, but this is really much worse than normal.
Content isn't bad, but it isn't great either. It focuses on "recipes" for a smattering of topics with no good overviews, so it's very hit and miss. For example, Vim's use of multiple config files in multiple locations probably deserves a chapter of its own--at least a large section, but there are just random references to things one might put in the multiple config files. Much of the chapter on Vim scripting is far too elementary for a programmer who is expert in at least one language, which I would think was the target audience(?) The scripting chapter is almost worthless, really. I did learn a few things (e.g. navigation and buffer management) in earlier chapters, but not much.
In summary, if I bought it new at full price, I'd be annoyed. Having bought it used for less than the new price, it was worth it...just barely.
it gives you enough to get you started and no more.
The only downside of this book is that it's $40 for 210 pages. I think that pretty pricey even in the over-priced world of technical books. If this book were $10 I would buy copies for my friends. If this book were $20 I would buy it without reservations. If this book were $30 then I would not be complaining about the price.
But at $40 I'm tempted to say that someone who is moderately motivated could probably save their money and use :h and the vimtips.
Its table of contents is longer (4 pages, two front and two back) than its index (3 pages, two front and one back). I expected to be able to pick this book up and use it as a Vim7 reference. This really isn't possible with this book.
This book has merit, but it's overpriced, and it isn't what it claims to be. Someone needs to write a complete and updated Vim reference. For now, this book mind remind you of a few cool features of Vim, but it will not change your world.
Personally, I get more out of the Vim quick reference cards I have taped around my desk.
Hacking VIM is a short book, weighing in at a scant 210 pages. The book contains six chapters, and two appendices. The first chapter covers the history of VIM, and the lineage of vi clones that preceded it. Chapter 2 covers personalizing VIM. This chapter covers how to really take VIM and customize it for your own needs, from changing the fonts and colors for GVIM to personalizing the status bar, and using tabs. Chapter 3 deals with navigating better in VIM, whether it's in a singular file, or a group of files (which is especially important for several programming environments). Chapter 4 discusses the many productivity enhancements of VIM, such as templates, auto-completion, code folding, sessions, and the built in diff mode. Advanced formatting is covered in chapter 5, which has a few interesting tips on making code look better. Rounding out the book (and weighing in as the largest chapter of the book) is scripting VIM. VIM has excellent scripting capabilities, and this chapter covers them in great detail, from finding scripts to writing your own. Lastly, the Appendix covers some of the neat scripts available for VIM, such as a minesweeper game, and the obligatory Towers of Hanoi puzzle and mail client (because no software is considered done until it reads mail and news. :) )
Hacking VIM prefaces each tip with which version of VIM will work with each function. There were only a few instances where I noticed that a particular function was mis-marked as requiring a later version of VIM that actually worked with earlier versions. The book also contains good images which help demonstrate some of the more visual components of VIM, like tabs, folding, and the spell checker.
Hacking VIM is chock-full of useful tips for getting the most out of VIM. The book is aimed at those who have already gained some familiarity with the VIM editor, and is by no means a tutorial for the novice user. There is clearly a bias in this book to the intermediate and advanced VIM users. Unfortunately, this is at odds with the first chapter, which starts with a history of the VIM editor. This wastes some of the space of the book, and would have been best used with more unique and different tips. Also, having some experience with VIM, I found certain tips weren't worth the trouble, and others quite confusing. The section on signs was a bit confusing, and I'm still unclear on why they're worth the trouble. There were several instances where I wondered what the productive benefit of a tip would be. On the other hand, I did find several tips invaluable. It's easy to overlook new functions in the CHANGELOGs, so I missed that newer versions of VIM had integrated spell-checking. Overall, Hacking VIM had enough good tips in it that I hadn't discovered on my own to make it worth the read.
Like most editors, VIM can induce editor fiddling sessions that result in little work being done, and Hacking VIM contains lots of fodder to make even the most ardent tweaker happy. Unless you carefully follow the mailing lists for VIM, and try every new feature as it is released, you might miss some really helpful productivity enhancers. My only wish for this book would be more focus on really productive tips, and less history about the other versions of vi that didn't survive. Hacking VIM may have lots of "of course" items for the truly seasoned VIM user, but for those of us who don't keep up-to-date with the latest features, Hacking VIM is an excellent way to get more familiar with some of the truly great features that have been introduced in later VIM versions.
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To quote another, what's original is not interesting and what's interesting is not original.