learning to use vi (or VIM)

When I first heard about vi and ran it, I grew confused and frustrated. I couldn’t do anything when I ran it, and I couldn’t even exit. I tried typing help but it displayed an error (No File). Then I tried typing quit, and it said something about recording and then insert, and then a lone ‘t’ showed up on the screen. I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to use such a monstrosity of a text editor.

I must admit that my first experience was less than ideal and I don’t recall how I eventually exited, but I used Pico for my text editing needs until eventually someone told me the basics of getting around in vi. What they told me was quite simple: Use ‘i’ for insert mode, escape for command mode and ‘h’, ‘j’, ‘k’ and ‘l’ to move around. Ever since that brief introduction, I’ve been a loyal user of vi.

If you’re interested in trying it out yourself (there’s even a windows version) this vi tutorial is a good start.


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  1. Whenever people complain about vim i first refer them to this. Very handy to start with.

    Comment by Thejaswi on June 3, 2005 @ 2:37 am
  2. That was my same reaction to VI when I had to use it.
    Then I opened the “help” menu that was where I was very very very lost.

    Finally a quick google search brought up my handy dandy vi cheat sheet.

    Comment by christopher mayfield on June 3, 2005 @ 6:23 am
  3. I totally agree with you. My first Vim encounter brought nothing but confusion and dark thoughts towards “simple” text editors. Now I have Vim commands tied into as many applications as I can. One feature of Vim that I recently found extremely useful in comparing source code, is [vimdiff]. I am by no means a Vim-superuser, but it has certainly made my life easier.

    Comment by jason on June 3, 2005 @ 7:50 am

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