[OT] "steep learning curve" ... but what is it actually?

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[OT] "steep learning curve" ... but what is it actually?

tuxic
Hi,

Often it i said, vim would have a steep learning curve...

If I think aboyt a "steep learning curve" as such in a
more mathematical sense...I dont understand this argument
for being a negative one.

Suppose this "steep learning curve" would be a graph
in the mathematical sense -- I would think, that
the X-axis represents t (time) and the Y-axis represents
the amount of knowledge k in turn.

With this setuo a steep curve would imply, that mu knowledge about
for example vim would increase more in a shorter period of
time than with other tools with a flat learning curve which does not
reaches that high values for Y....notepad for example.

Why is this taken as a negative feature?

Let us build more tools with steep learninging curves to seperate
those from tools which has nothing to offer... ;)

This is not meant as an argument for overcomplicated tools, though...

Or did I understand totally wrong here...?

Cheers
Meino

PS:
I dont understand "editor wars" -- how can be there a war between
a sole editor? ;)





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Re: [OT] "steep learning curve" ... but what is it actually?

Tim Chase
On 2017-07-30 09:10, [hidden email] wrote:
> Suppose this "steep learning curve" would be a graph
> in the mathematical sense -- I would think, that
> the X-axis represents t (time) and the Y-axis represents
> the amount of knowledge k in turn.

I think the confusion comes because it seems to be a factor of two
things over time:  there's how much you need to know before you can
accomplish something productively, and how completely you know the
editor.  With something like nano or notepad, you start typing and
the text appears.  There are on-screen menus to guide you in
quitting/saving and basic search/replace.  Additionally, their
feature-set is sufficiently small that you quickly learn all their
limited functionality[1]

Meanwhile, the next set of editors (Sublime, Visual Studio, Atom,
etc) tend to make things accessible via menus and GUIs.  They present
a lot more power and complexity, but still manage to keep things
approachable for basic activities.

Finally, editors like vi/vim, emacs, and ed have next to no help (vim
improved on this with the opening screen's tips, but they're not
visible if you are dumped in a file).  Vi/vim/emacs have huge numbers
of features (I've been using vim since around the turn of the
century and am still learning new tricks ~18yrs later) that can be
combined for combinatorial functionality, including scriptability
meaning they can grow functionality that the original authors never
created.

So the proverbial graphs tend to refer to "how quickly can you get
started" as well as "how limited are you".

-tim

[1] notepad does have one or to obscure features like the timestamped
log, and nano does have additional functionality to learn like syntax
highlighting.  But these "advanced" features are a pretty small
extension of the whole.




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Re: [OT] "steep learning curve" ... but what is it actually?

arocker
> On 2017-07-30 09:10, [hidden email] wrote:
>> Suppose this "steep learning curve" would be a graph
>> in the mathematical sense -- I would think, that
>> the X-axis represents t (time) and the Y-axis represents
>> the amount of knowledge k in turn.
>

Really, the cliche's the wrong way around. It depends on whether you are
looking at it as the rate of acquisition that's possible, (in which case a
steep vertical represents an easy task), the rate that's necessary to
survive, e.g. in an emergency, (in which case a steep gradient represents
a challenge, learn quickly or die), or the effort required to achieve
proficiency, with the X axis as proficiency and the Y axis as effort.

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Re: [OT] "steep learning curve" ... but what is it actually?

Tony Mechelynck
I think the learning curve is said to be steep by comparison with an
uphill path. So x would be how far you get and y would be the amount
of expended effort.

But does Vim really have a steep learning curve? IMHO what it has is a
virtually unlimited set of capabilities — considering that it has a
Turing-complete configuration language which seems more or less
Algol-like to me (though without begin..end statements, instead with
specialised endif, endwhile, endfunction, etc.) it feels to me that
the power of Vim, especially of a feature-rich "huge" build, is
limited only by the user's ingenuity and by his/her command of the
scripting language.

Who says Vim has a "steep" learning curve after all? I may be wrong,
but I have a hunch that it's mostly people who tried Vim for an hour
or maybe a day and noticed that they were still far from knowing all
and every bit of the ins and outs of Vim. So what? My take on the
subject is that, on the contrary, Vim is easy to learn because:
  • there is the vimtutor, a very well thought-out step-by-step
hands-on tutorial;
  • the online help is at your fingertips and it covers every single
bit of what there is to know about Vim.
  • there is even help about how to use the help: see :help helphelp
Other programs have a page or two of online help — when they have any
— and even with their limited featureset, their help falls far short
of it. I admit that there are a very few, extremely few even,
exceptions such as Mercurial. But even the Mercurial help, which is
quite complete compared to many other programs' help, doesn't compare
with the Vim help for ease of use. In Vim, once you're in the help,
you go from one topic to another by double-clicking or hitting Ctrl-]
on any word on which you want help, allowing you to learn Vim by
reading its help by the Monte-Carlo method, as you would an
encyclopædia, by going from one topic to another in no predefined
sequence.
But — yes, there is a but — with Vim, unlike with, say, Notepad, there
is a lot to learn. You can master Notepad in a few minutes, a few
hours if you're a slow learner. With Vim's, Socrates's maxim comes
into its full force: «The more I learn, and the better I see how
little I know.» To my way of looking at it, this is not a defect but a
quality: it means that Vim packs so much power that it is worth
learning it bit by bit, a little every day for years after years.


Best regards,
Tony.

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Re: [OT] "steep learning curve" ... but what is it actually?

Xavier Noria
Vim has a steep learning curve simply because Vim does a lot. As a metric,


is huge. In some conferences I have seen the speaker ask "what is ";" for?" Nobody knows, maybe a couple hands raised. The audience may know :wq, and fugitive, but they have not learnt Vim as such IMO. A shallow knowledge does not have a steep learning curve.

VS Code or Atom are different in that regard, there is not that match to learn in comparison (because they do less).


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Re: [OT] "steep learning curve" ... but what is it actually?

Ben Fritz
In reply to this post by tuxic
On Sunday, July 30, 2017 at 2:10:44 AM UTC-5, [hidden email] wrote:

>
> Suppose this "steep learning curve" would be a graph
> in the mathematical sense -- I would think, that
> the X-axis represents t (time) and the Y-axis represents
> the amount of knowledge k in turn.
>
> With this setuo a steep curve would imply, that mu knowledge about
> for example vim would increase more in a shorter period of
> time than with other tools with a flat learning curve which does not
> reaches that high values for Y....notepad for example.
>
> Why is this taken as a negative feature?
>
The idea is that for tools that *don't* have a steep curve, you can ease into the tool, slowly picking up knowledge as you go. So the curve of your knowledge over time is a gradual increase, as you slowly learn more and more about how to be effective.

Tools with a "steep" learning curve are basically useless until you meet a certain level of proficiency. A user jumping into Vim with no prior exposure won't even know how to insert text or quit the editor, for example. Moving around takes a lot of getting used to. Advanced editing features that actually make it worthwhile to use Vim, such as text objects and syntax highlighting, aren't immediately available either.

It's not that you're *able* to learn a lot quickly, it's that you're *forced* to learn so much before becoming productive, that makes a "steep leaning curve" into a negative.

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Re: [OT] "steep learning curve" ... but what is it actually?

Tony Mechelynck
On Tue, Aug 8, 2017 at 11:10 PM, Ben Fritz <[hidden email]> wrote:
[...]
> It's not that you're *able* to learn a lot quickly, it's that you're *forced* to learn so much before becoming productive, that makes a "steep leaning curve" into a negative.

At least Vim has one of the best documentations that I've ever met on
a PC. Whenever I wanted to know the ins and outs of any feature, all I
had to do was to dig into the help. When I was new to Vim, I noticed
that Vim supported Unicode, and didn't know that it was, at the time,
a fairly new feature. All that was necessary to make it work was
reading the help and a little trial and error (not much) with my
vimrc. I was surprised when the then maintainer of the Vim FAQ asked
me to write a chapter about how to use that then-new feature.

I remember that the :helpgrep command appeared shortly _before_
:vimgrep — that tells you how serious Bram is about having not only a
full documentation but an easily searchable one.

With most other editors, you can't learn a lot quickly — or slowly —
because there isn't a lot to be learnt in the first place. With Vim,
there is a lot to learn, and if, like you and me, one takes the
trouble to learn it, the benefits to be reaped are enormous.


Best regards,
Tony.

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