Thursday, December 22, 2011

Should You vi?

When I was coming up through UNIX programming, GUI editors were not that common, and certainly not across the Sun, HP and IBM systems I commonly used.  On the other hand, vi was always there.  It's old-school.  It's infrastructure.

I'm going to say that yes, you should learn it if you are taking a Linux/UNIX centered development path.  There will be a time when you just need to quickly edit some dumb little text file, maybe over a telnet or ssh connection, and vi will do it.

Google "vi tutorial" and spend some time.  It might be fun, as well as a little frustrating ;-).  Just remember, when in doubt, pound that Esc key!

A few additional comments:

1) I run vi from the command line.  When I'm in a GUI mood I choose something else.

2) Whenever I load a new Linux system, I add the full vim package.  Vim is vi plus nice things like colored syntax highlighting.  When I can, I vim rather than vi.

3) Back in the old-school days there were "vi versus emacs" arguments (see Editor War).  I won't comment on that.  I ended up a "vi guy" alternately because I like a light environment, or I just happened to use vi first.

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