Is vim just for programmers?

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Is vim just for programmers?

Anthony Campbell-3
Having recently rather unexpectedly found myself back on this list after
being unable to get on it for several years, I seem to see a difference
in emphasis. Most people who post here appear to be programmers,
whereas previously there were other kinds of users as well. Nothing
wrong with that, of course, and I'm not trying to start a flame war. But
I'm not a programmer yet I use vim for all my writing and I'm wondering
if I'm unusual.

I write books among other things, and for that I first compose the text
in vim, which allows me to concentrate on the meaning withoug bothering
about the appearance, and then transfer it to LyX for final formatting.
I find it useful to have these two different phases in writing. What I
like about vim is the possibility to make quick transpositions of blocks
of text and other changes. I usually end up with several files
containing different versions of what I've written.

Searching the web for people's views on writing methods I found a number
who said that one should use vim for programming but emacs for other
kinds of writing. So I had a look at emacs out of curiosity but couldn't
see any real advantage for me in learning it. Am I missing something
here? Is anyone else still using vim for writing lengthy texts?


Anthony

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Re: Is vim just for programmers?

MarcWeber
Hi Anthony,

Asking such general questions doesn't make sense in practise. (IMHO).

If you want to get a job done and if you want to know whether Vim is a
great tool to get the job done than ask how to setup Vim to assist you.

See :h design-not

Follow Bram's advice: Watch yourself. Try to find out on which things
you spend most time and try to speed up those tasks. If you don't know
how to do this get help (ig by chatting on irc).

Vim is good at this: You can speed up many tasks easily.
If it comes to more advanced things such as IDE features (code
completion etc.).. you still can make Vim use languages which can do the
task for you. Examples: Eclim (headless eclipse) or scion (Haskell on
the fly syntax checker)

Using other editors one of those things which can slow down is switchi
mouse / keyboard. Using Vim you don't have switch because you can do
everything you like using the keyboard.

One bad thing about Vim is that you can't quit if you've never done that
before even though the start screen tells you to run :q
At least I didn't understand it that time.

If it comes to writing books there is no easy answer either.
Eg Emacs has some plugins to preview LaTex formulars.
Vim will never do this.

Programmers naturally write much text. And vim assists you very well.
Many people (including me) use Vim even if it has some weakness such as
not being able to receive feedback from other applications in a
concurrent way. You need such a feature to implement debugger
integration.. (Yes I know there are many workarounds. I wrote one
myself. But Vim itself is not thread safe which says all...)

That's why I end up coding in Vim while using Eclipse for debugging..

I also write Emails using Vim.
I keep many notes in files I manage with Vim.

Use the tool which is best for a given task.
Use google and irc to find out which tool that is.


If you consider using a non distracting editor such as
http://they.misled.us/dark-room
keep in mind that it takes less than 5 configuration lines to make Vim
fit this use case as well.
Have a look at :h motion to find out why Vim might be a better choice
for writing text. Than compare this list with the features other text
editor provide. Also keep in mind that it's very easy to script Vim.

Marc Weber

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Re: Is vim just for programmers?

Anthony Campbell-3
On 01 Jan 2010, Marc Weber wrote:
> Hi Anthony,
>
> Asking such general questions doesn't make sense in practise. (IMHO).
>

I must have phrased this badly. I was just wondering what other people's
experience was and if there were others who were using vim for general
writing and editing. More out of curiosity than anything else.

> If it comes to writing books there is no easy answer either.
> Eg Emacs has some plugins to preview LaTex formulars.
> Vim will never do this.

LyX does. One of the reasons I use it.

> If you consider using a non distracting editor such as
> http://they.misled.us/dark-room

I don't use Windows.

Regards,

Anthony

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Re: Is vim just for programmers?

Tim Chase
In reply to this post by Anthony Campbell-3
> Searching the web for people's views on writing methods I
> found a number who said that one should use vim for
> programming but emacs for other kinds of writing. So I had a
> look at emacs out of curiosity but couldn't see any real
> advantage for me in learning it. Am I missing something here?
> Is anyone else still using vim for writing lengthy texts?

Me :)

Yes, there's a decently sized contingent of [La]TeX users on the
vim ML, but they mostly appear to answer questions about
Vim+[La]TeX integration plugins or use, and then they go silent.
  Which is how the list works in general -- ask a question and
usually the right people pick up on it and answer; instead of
having people write unsolicited diatribes on their favorite
topics whether [La]TeX, scripting, Ex commands, or
Unicode/BOM/character-encodings stuff (though I've gotta admit
that just about everything I know regarding U/BOM/ce, I've
learned from Tony's elucidating replies that occasionally go off
on pedantic dissertations -- thanks, Tony!).

I think Vim's primary users are "people who want to edit text
more efficiently".  A large subset of those lazy people (self
included) are programmers, but do include [La]TeX users, system
administrators, people who email a lot and use Vim as an external
editor...and the list goes on.  I tinkered with Emacs but grew
frustrated with (1) using it over remote SSH/telnet/RS-232
connections that didn't always reliably send things like alt/meta
or arrow keys; (2) at the time, on my underpowered 486 DX/100,
Emacs was a dog; and (3) it was harder to be productive out of
the box without amassing a customized config file that I then had
to tote around and keep in sync across machines.  Tim O'Reilly
had a good post[1] about this around the time I made the
full-time jump to Vim.

So now I use Vim like I used to use qedit in DOS to write all my
papers, project documentation, code, and other text-format
content.  Except, well, email and text-boxes on web pages (though
there are TB/FF plugins for that)

-tim

[1]
http://oreilly.com/pub/a/oreilly/ask_tim/1999/unix_editor.html


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Re: Is vim just for programmers?

isene
On Fri, Jan 01, 2010 at 07:50:17AM -0600, Tim Chase scribed:
> > Searching the web for people's views on writing methods I
> > found a number who said that one should use vim for
> > programming but emacs for other kinds of writing. So I had a
> > look at emacs out of curiosity but couldn't see any real
> > advantage for me in learning it. Am I missing something here?
> > Is anyone else still using vim for writing lengthy texts?
>
> Me :)

Me too.

I use vim for almost anything - including writing in forms on the web (via
the firefox plugin ItsAllText). I write books, esseys, articles and all my
e-mail in vim (I use Mutt as the mail client). I am almost twice as
effective in handling e-mail than most people I know with the mutt/vim
combo.


->Geir Isene :)

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Re: Is vim just for programmers?

Christoph Buck
In reply to this post by Tim Chase
2010/1/1 Tim Chase <[hidden email]>:
>> Searching the web for people's views on writing methods I
>> found a number who said that one should use vim for
>> programming but emacs for other kinds of writing. So I had a
>> look at emacs out of curiosity but couldn't see any real
>> advantage for me in learning it. Am I missing something here?
>> Is anyone else still using vim for writing lengthy texts?
>
> Me :)
>

Me too ;)

Currently i write my masterthesis with vim + latex.
I don`t use any plugin just pure vim. With a small Makefile i am able to
build the document out of vim. Git over svn is used for a
backup/revision control.

I first tried kile, but i didn`t like the spellchecking. Than i took a
closer look to emacs.
But i'm not getting into this monster. It starts with the config-file.
The lisp-language is killing me.
And nearly every key-kombination don`t work on the first try because i
release the meta-key to
early or to late. So i stuck with vim. I'm not a power user but nearly
every day i learn a knew nice small
feature to do my work faster.

Greetings ,

Christoph

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Re: Is vim just for programmers?

Stahlman Family
In reply to this post by Anthony Campbell-3


Anthony Campbell wrote:

> Having recently rather unexpectedly found myself back on this list after
> being unable to get on it for several years, I seem to see a difference
> in emphasis. Most people who post here appear to be programmers,
> whereas previously there were other kinds of users as well. Nothing
> wrong with that, of course, and I'm not trying to start a flame war. But
> I'm not a programmer yet I use vim for all my writing and I'm wondering
> if I'm unusual.
>
> I write books among other things, and for that I first compose the text
> in vim, which allows me to concentrate on the meaning withoug bothering
> about the appearance, and then transfer it to LyX for final formatting.
> I find it useful to have these two different phases in writing. What I
> like about vim is the possibility to make quick transpositions of blocks
> of text and other changes. I usually end up with several files
> containing different versions of what I've written.
>
> Searching the web for people's views on writing methods I found a number
> who said that one should use vim for programming but emacs for other
> kinds of writing. So I had a look at emacs out of curiosity but couldn't
> see any real advantage for me in learning it. Am I missing something
> here? Is anyone else still using vim for writing lengthy texts?

Anthony,
I am a programmer, but I also use Vim for non-programming tasks: for
example, I keep copious notes on a wide range of topics (professional,
personal, understanding, etc...) in a system of journal files containing
well over 50,000 lines. I wrote a Vim filetype plugin that facilitates
creating journal entries with the sort of header I like (subject, date,
tags, etc...), and a Vim syntax plugin that knows how to highlight the
entries sensibly. I also wrote a Perl GUI that provides advanced search
capabilities, and can send search results to a Vim instance in a way
that makes it easy for me to cycle through the results.

Although the aforementioned Vim syntax plugin knows how to do basic
journal entry highlighting, I sometimes find myself wanting a more
flexible syntax highlighting mechanism: e.g., something analogous to the
"rich text" capability supported by word processors. For this sort of
highlighting, I use the Txtfmt plugin:

http://www.vim.org/scripts/script.php?script_id=2208
Screenshots: http://www.txtfmt.webs.com

One of the nice features of Vim's plugin system is that it doesn't force
me to choose between my journal syntax (jnl) and the Txtfmt syntax
(txtfmt): I can use both in the same file, simply by setting 'filetype'
equal to "jnl.txtfmt". The result is that things like journal entry
headers (as well the simple markup understood by the jnl syntax) are
highlighted automatically, but extra highlighting (e.g,. fg/bg colors,
bold, underline, italic, etc...) can be added as desired with Txtfmt.
This synergy is certainly not limited to Txtfmt and Jnl. Others have
written plugins for working with text, which can be integrated with
Txtfmt in a similar way:

        Notes (lightweight note taker by Hari Krishna Dara)
        ywchaos (journal taking and diary making by Yue Wu)
        txt (plain text browser by Yongping Guo)
        TVO (The Vim Outliner by Ned Konz)
        etc...

If I had known about some of the above (or in some cases, if they had
existed) when I wrote the Jnl plugin, I might have used one of them
instead of writing my own. The point here is not that my solution is
right for everyone, but that Vim can be made to do just about whatever
you like. Figure out what your requirements are, and craft a tailored
solution. The solution could rely upon tools you write yourself, tools
written by other Vim users, or some combination of the two.

One other example of Vim's usefulness for text applications occurs to
me... Several years ago, I was writing the script for a sort of radio
drama I was producing with my children. I created a syntax file that
provided highlighting for various things: scene numbering, scene
descriptions, character names, sound effect cues, etc... I also created
a filetype plugin that facilitated, among other things, making the
recordings of the voice parts by bringing up a recorder application to
record the speaking part under the cursor and ensuring that the
resulting .wav file was saved to a file whose name could be derived from
scene, speaker, and position within the scene. This plugin saved me a
great deal of time and frustration during recording sessions, allowing
me to focus entirely on the (easily distracted) children playing the
parts rather than on the mundane and repetitive logistics of recording.

Hope this helps...

Brett Stahlman

>
>
> Anthony
>

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Re: Is vim just for programmers?

Chris Jones-44
In reply to this post by Anthony Campbell-3
On Fri, Jan 01, 2010 at 07:14:56AM EST, Anthony Campbell wrote:

> Having recently rather unexpectedly found myself back on this list
> after being unable to get on it for several years,

There have been reports on the list of individuals who had unsbscribed
from [hidden email] years ago and all of a sudden started receiving mail
again from the new [hidden email]. I'd say this was some time
over the last few months, so you could search the archives and see if
anything conclusive came of it.

> I seem to see a difference in emphasis. Most people who post here
> appear to be programmers, whereas previously there were other kinds of
> users as well. Nothing wrong with that, of course, and I'm not trying
> to start a flame war. But I'm not a programmer yet I use vim for all
> my writing and I'm wondering if I'm unusual.

Insofar as you are using GNU/linux, you are already 'unusual'. Being a
writer rather than a programmer and resorting to Vim as your tool of
choice, probably makes you even more so by a few orders of magnitude.

But then, and this list is an example thereof, even programmers do
indulge in other activities besides programming.

And one could even argue that the minute you start using a computer you
become a programmer anyway.

> I write books among other things, and for that I first compose the
> text in vim, which allows me to concentrate on the meaning without
> bothering about the appearance, and then transfer it to LyX for final
> formatting.  I find it useful to have these two different phases in
> writing. What I like about vim is the possibility to make quick
> transpositions of blocks of text and other changes. I usually end up
> with several files containing different versions of what I've written.

You could take at look a the 'latex-suite' plugin. If you are on debian,
do the following for a quick evaluation:

# vim-addons -w install latex-suite    # as root / system-wide install
$ vim
:h latex-suite-quickstart.txt
:h latex-suite

Or you could investigate whether LyX can be customized to emulate the
behavior of Vim's interface in terms of keyboard actions.

> Searching the web for people's views on writing methods I found a
> number who said that one should use vim for programming but Emacs for
> other kinds of writing. So I had a look at Emacs out of curiosity but
> couldn't see any real advantage for me in learning it. Am I missing
> something here?

It takes time to become comfortable enough with either Vim or Emacs to
be able to push them out of the way and focus on the writing.

I enjoy using Vim for writing English text, because I neither have to
take my eyes off the display nor have to take my fingers off the
keyboard's home row: aside from 'Ctrl-[' to switch between insert/normal
mode, which I favor over reaching for my laptop's tiny out-of-reach
escape key, I find that pretty much all the keyboard 'meta-actions' that
I need to frequently perform besides the ones that let me enter text,
save energy (usually one key-press or two after escaping out of insert
mode rather than hard-to-sync modifier+key combos), and also do not
require the hand flexibility and of eye quickness of a 4-year old (none
of that looking down at the keyboard to reach for arrow keys, <PgUp>,
<PdDown>, <Home>, <End>, etc.

In other words, unless you have reached the nirvana of perfect typing
accuracy, and you never need to amend your output, Vim is to my mind
best of breed in terms of efficient general-purpose editing.

I am not God's scribe after all.

Note, that I forced myself to learn to type a few years ago and have
become proficient enough to come close to my initial goal, which was to
be able to enter text at the keyboard as naturally and effortlessly as
I was able to write with a pen. And yes, it turned out that integrating
the minimal set of Vim's most frequently used commands to my muscle
memory was an important part of the equation. It may skew my vision of
the issue but unfortunately, apart from the frustration, I cannot
remember anything from the days when I could not type.

> Is anyone else still using vim for writing lengthy texts?

I can't say I totally agree with Marc who feels such general questions
do not make sense, because maybe the implicit question here was whether
here in this forum lurk individuals with expertise using Vim to write
lengthy texts, and if so what features does Vim provide that makes life
easier for them. Since I cannot peek over their hypothetical shoulders,
I would be curious as well. The list is called vim_use, for one thing,
and for another, this is the type of question where RTFM does not
provide the answer.

CJ

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Re: Is vim just for programmers?

Chris Jones-44
In reply to this post by isene
On Fri, Jan 01, 2010 at 09:34:02AM EST, Geir Isene wrote:

[..]

> I use vim for almost anything - including writing in forms on the web
> (via the firefox plugin ItsAllText). I write books, esseys, articles
> and all my e-mail in vim (I use Mutt as the mail client). I am almost
> twice as effective in handling e-mail than most people I know with the
> mutt/vim combo.

Aha..! I'm not one of the people you know, but it wouldn't surprise me
if you were almost twice effective as I am.

Any tips forthcoming - or a nice 3-page tutorial if you could spare the
time.

I am not kidding, actually..  this is the kind of stuff you can't get
for love or money.

In days of yore, in every trade, the apprentice would benefit by the
enlightening guidance of the masters - plenty kicks in the pants, I
would imagine, but now with computer skills, it's everyone for himself
wasting their time reinventing and despite all my efforts, my wheels are
all wonky.

:-(

CJ

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Re: Is vim just for programmers?

Jan-Herbert Damm
Hello,

Chris Jones wrote on 01.01.10:
 
> In days of yore, in every trade, the apprentice would benefit by the
> enlightening guidance of the masters - plenty kicks in the pants, I would
> imagine, but now with computer skills, it's everyone for himself wasting
> their time reinventing and despite all my efforts, my wheels are all wonky.

Thanks Chris, for phrasing this so heartily to the point. That's exactly how i
feel.

jan

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Re: Is vim just for programmers?

NickC-3
In reply to this post by Anthony Campbell-3
For me, vim has taken over, it's pervasive because it's so useful.  So
much so that I get frustrated when I press, say, dd in an app and find it
didn't delete the line.  Stupid brain-dead app, I think to myself, when
it's my fault of course.

I use vimperator plugin for Opera browser, which gives me vim-like
shortcuts when browsing (there's one for Firefox too).  So, it's not just
for programmers.

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Re: Is vim just for programmers?

Tim Chase
NickC wrote:
> For me, vim has taken over, it's pervasive because it's so useful.  So
> much so that I get frustrated when I press, say, dd in an app and find it
> didn't delete the line.  Stupid brain-dead app, I think to myself, when
> it's my fault of course.

For me, I find myself muttering at other apps most when I reach
for a vim text-object.  "What do you mean I have to hold down the
<up> arrow until I get to the blank line, then hold down shift
and the <down> arrow to select to the end of the paragraph?!  Why
can't I just operate on the 'inner paragraph' text object without
all this hooey?!"

For most of my other annoyances, I just cut & paste into vim, use
a *real* editor, then copy/paste it back into the original app.

-tim

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Re: Is vim just for programmers?

Tim Chase
In reply to this post by Chris Jones-44
Chris Jones wrote:
> Any tips forthcoming - or a nice 3-page tutorial if you could
> spare the time.
>
> I am not kidding, actually..  this is the kind of stuff you
> can't get for love or money.
>
> In days of yore, in every trade, the apprentice would benefit
> by the enlightening guidance of the masters

While the Vim Wiki is available, I find the most useful thing is
to hang out on this mailing list -- it's like having a dozen
masters answering the questions for apprentices.  You can just
let the stream of answers flow by, and as your skills develop,
try to formulate your own solution to others' problems.  As on
several recent threads, you'll see several radically different
solutions to the same problem.  I tend to abuse Ex commands,
while others often prefer scripting solutions.  Seeing the range
of solutions from others helps broaden your perspective on how to
tackle similar problems when you encounter them in the wild.

-tim


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Re: Is vim just for programmers?

Reid Thompson
In reply to this post by Chris Jones-44
Chris Jones wrote:

> Any tips forthcoming - or a nice 3-page tutorial if you could spare the
> time.
>
> I am not kidding, actually..  this is the kind of stuff you can't get
> for love or money.
>
> In days of yore, in every trade, the apprentice would benefit by the
> enlightening guidance of the masters - plenty kicks in the pants, I
> would imagine, but now with computer skills, it's everyone for himself
> wasting their time reinventing and despite all my efforts, my wheels are
> all wonky.
>
> :-(
>
> CJ
>

I believe vim is the default editor for mutt.  Here's the best place to get started.
At the bottom of the page are a couple of Newbie guides.
http://www.mutt.org/

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Re: Is vim just for programmers?

Anthony Campbell-3
Thanks to all who replied to this thread. It's good to know that others
use vim much as I do. Some useful suggestions have come up. I already
use (g)vim as my default editor for mutt but I'll look into LatexSuite and
txtfmt.

A principal grouse of people who prefer other editors is that vim is
modal. This doesn't actually bother me, perhaps because before I was
using linux I was on DOS (didn't like Windows even then), and there I
used a word processor called Protext, which was modal. Vim felt quite
familiar to me in that respect when I came to it after a brief
flirtation with emacs.

Anthony


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Re: Is vim just for programmers?

Shawn H Corey
In reply to this post by NickC-3
NickC wrote:
> For me, vim has taken over, it's pervasive because it's so useful.  So
> much so that I get frustrated when I press, say, dd in an app and find it
> didn't delete the line.  Stupid brain-dead app, I think to myself, when
> it's my fault of course.

I know the feeling.  When I used to work on Windows and the only editor
available was edit (ugh!)  It wasn't long before all the text files
start with :q


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exiting, quitting

Dennis German
Happy New Year to all. :w

An earlier post mentioned having files ending up with
:q in them.

When I'm done editing, I always use :x and
only use :q when I didn't make any changes
 ( of course :q! when I didn't mean to make any changes).
Is this just a matter of personal preference and
does everyone else use :w:q or something else??

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embedded :x :w :q

Dennis German
In reply to this post by Shawn H Corey
Has anyone written a script to intercept :x being input as text and
execute the :x
( or a :q which would fail with warning if changes were made),
  avoiding  the syndrome known as

:x [ENTER]*@#$! [DEL][DEL][DEL][ESC]:x[ENTER]

or

the many HTML files with the odd :x embedded

PS The *@#$! is usually spoken)

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Re: exiting, quitting

Thomas Adam-5
In reply to this post by Dennis German
On Sat, Jan 02, 2010 at 08:54:57AM -0500, Dennis German wrote:
> Happy New Year to all. :w
>
> An earlier post mentioned having files ending up with
> :q in them.
>
> When I'm done editing, I always use :x and

I use:  ZZ

-- Thomas Adam

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"It was the cruelest game I've ever played and it's played inside my head."
-- "Hush The Warmth", Gorky's Zygotic Mynci.

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Re: exiting, quitting

Tim Chase
In reply to this post by Dennis German
Dennis German wrote:
> An earlier post mentioned having files ending up with
> :q in them.
>
> When I'm done editing, I always use :x and
> only use :q when I didn't make any changes
>  ( of course :q! when I didn't mean to make any changes).
> Is this just a matter of personal preference and
> does everyone else use :w:q or something else??

There was a thread on the preferences of various people regarding
the merits of quitting methods[1].  I prefer to build my intent
incrementally while others prefer fast typing such as ZZ (2.5
keys) or :x<cr> (3.5 or 4 keys depending on how you count <shift>)

-tim

[1] my post on the topic
http://markmail.org/message/ohbuz4lk4zj4wt52

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