File Under: Software

Happy Birthday Vim, The Venerable Text Editor Turns 20

Twenty years ago today Bram Moolenaar unleashed Vim on the world and text editing was never the same again. Short for vi iMproved, Vim was originally written as a vi clone for the Amiga and then soon spread to just about every computing platform known to man.

Our friends over at Ars Technica have a great retrospective of Vim, including the history of Vim, vi and a nice overview of what makes Vim so powerful. Even if you’ve never used vi or Vim, you’re enjoying some of their legacy every time you use the h, j, k, and l keys for directional navigation on sites like Gmail, Google Reader and more.

If you’ve never used Vim before and would like to know what makes it different (that’s polite Vim-speak for better) than your current editor of choice, head on over to OpenVim, which has a great online interactive tutorial explaining Vim’s various editing modes and how to get started.

If you’d like to try Vim online, check out knowvim, a Javascript implementation of Vim that you can use right in your browser. If you decide to dive in and teach yourself Vim, be sure to watch Derek Wyatt’s fabulous series of screencasts: Vim novice tutorials.

I’m not going to lie to you, the learning curve for Vim is long and steep. I gave up several times before Vim finally sank in, but once you pass a certain point and Vim begins to make sense, there’s no going back.

[Written, like all Webmonkey posts, in Vim, natch.]

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