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vi Lovers' Homepage

By simmons75 in MLP
Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 09:39:36 AM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)

I've never met a person who didn't either love it unquestioningly or hate it with a passion. I'm taling about vi. For those of you who don't know, vi is a text editor that originated on UNIX and has inspired many clones on many platforms. It's a good thing to mention when you want tech-types to argue. :-)

So, do you love it? Hate it? Do you use it in a professional setting other than a tech field? My last job was at a newspaper, and vi was the editor-of-choice for doing routine config file editing (usually when an ad salesperson forgot their password :-)


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vi Lovers' Homepage | 51 comments (44 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
I couldn't care less about vi... (3.75 / 8) (#2)
by joto on Fri Jan 12, 2001 at 08:22:18 PM EST

In fact most people I know have about the same opinion. Vi is a practical tool when you want to work over a slow telnet line, such as modem, satelite or whatever. It's not my favourite tool, though, and will probably never be, but it's nice to know that you can probably count on finding it anywhere.

That's it, basically...

re: I couldn't care less about vi... (3.00 / 4) (#8)
by eMBee on Fri Jan 12, 2001 at 08:42:36 PM EST

but the same is true for any cli editor, so that point is irrelevant.

the key advantage of vi is, that it is available on any unix system out there.
iow. it's a practical tool when you need to work with different systems on a non-regular basis.
i love vi for that reasond, and for that reason only.

greetings, martin.
Gnu is Not Unix / Linux Is Not UniX
[ Parent ]

Uhh, isn't that exactly what I said? (1.50 / 2) (#10)
by joto on Fri Jan 12, 2001 at 08:53:20 PM EST

Anyway, not all editors work equally well over a slow telnet line. Emacs can run over telnet as well, but it doesn't work well over slow and unstable connections.

[ Parent ]
nope. (1.50 / 2) (#15)
by eMBee on Fri Jan 12, 2001 at 09:20:47 PM EST

i said it's true for any cli-editor, that includes emacs.
i do not agree that emacs does not work well over an unstable connection.

greetings, eMBee.
Gnu is Not Unix / Linux Is Not UniX
[ Parent ]

editor wars! (1.66 / 12) (#4)
by eMBee on Fri Jan 12, 2001 at 08:23:25 PM EST

Gnu is Not Unix / Linux Is Not UniX
How about . . . (3.00 / 4) (#9)
by MTDilbert on Fri Jan 12, 2001 at 08:50:23 PM EST



Don't mod me down because you disagree. Show me the error of my ways.
[ Parent ]

re: How about . . . (1.50 / 2) (#13)
by eMBee on Fri Jan 12, 2001 at 09:18:00 PM EST

heh, the similarity was not intended, i could have said weeeeehaaaaa, or, wooohooo, or who knows what :-)
greetings, eMBee.
Gnu is Not Unix / Linux Is Not UniX
[ Parent ]
re: How about . . . (1.50 / 2) (#17)
by MTDilbert on Fri Jan 12, 2001 at 09:37:44 PM EST

It was just such a nice fat pitch, right over home plate, that I just couldn't resist taking a swing!

Don't mod me down because you disagree. Show me the error of my ways.
[ Parent ]

Me! Me!!! (4.16 / 6) (#5)
by elenchos on Fri Jan 12, 2001 at 08:26:56 PM EST

I don't care one way or the other about vi. I'm pretty much indifferent to it. It's a text editor right? Yep. Not a bad text editor; not an outstandingly good one. But it's usable. Never caused a murder. Never saved the world. Just edited some text, just like it's supposed to. Nothing to be ashamed of there.

So, in conclusion, I would like to attest that my feelings about vi are quite lukewarm. I am neutral about it and feel (although I don't feel strongly, of course) that I will continue to have this attitude in the future.

Hooray, or not, for vi!


merely a text editor? (3.00 / 2) (#23)
by greentea on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 12:30:06 AM EST

Bah. vi superior. emacs inferior.
It's the one editor that you can garuntee will be on every unixlike distribution.
well. there's also ed, which i don't know how to use. I wouldn't mind becoming an ed badass. but I must master my vi skills first. hyah!
never saved the world? yeah. i guess if you call fighting off hordes of nazis to reclaim hitler's moustache in '84 never saving the world.
and it doesn't word wrap for you. which pico and i think joe do. that kind of chit is nogood.
I'm pro vi.

[ Parent ]
Emacs for me (4.33 / 3) (#11)
by Qtmstr on Fri Jan 12, 2001 at 09:09:16 PM EST

I prefer Emacs, personally, since it's so programmable. That being said, I definetely use vi when editing configuration files, however, since it starts so quickly. It's also useful when in single-user mode and trying to recover after fsck CLEARED parts of /etc --- less can go wrong, and it depends on fewer libraries and files. Bring the old logo back!

Kuro5hin delenda est!
"never met someone who didn't love it or hate (2.75 / 4) (#14)
by Speare on Fri Jan 12, 2001 at 09:19:05 PM EST

I've never met a person who didn't either love it unquestioningly or hate it with a passion. I'm taling about vi. For those of you who don't know, vi is a text editor that originated on UNIX and has inspired many clones on many platforms.

Those who don't know vi, neither love nor hate it.

I do know vi, and I neither love nor hate it. It's just a tool. If it's all that I can use at the moment, I use it. If there's another editor I'm more productive with, I use that. Simple.

[ e d @ h a l l e y . c c ]
Why no poll on this one ? (4.00 / 3) (#16)
by Greggbert on Fri Jan 12, 2001 at 09:32:11 PM EST

For me, vi has always been the editor I loved to hate. Like edlin on old MS-DOS though, it's the one editor you can count on being on almost every system when you need to edit something in a pinch.
If you don't understand anything that I have posted, please accept that I ate paste as a small child...
fickle people of K5 (4.00 / 6) (#19)
by speek on Fri Jan 12, 2001 at 09:53:23 PM EST

Y'know, you ask the nice folks at K5 a decent question, you get debates, arguments, sometimes flames, insults, etc.

But, you ask 'em to do battle for your personal entertainment, they won't do it. They act all indignant that you're trying to start a "flamewar". Yeah, like we're so against that. We'd never engage in that sort of activity. Freakin' ingrates.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees

that's so funny (2.50 / 2) (#32)
by regeya on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 12:57:25 PM EST

there doesn't seem to be that much debate going on on this story...maybe I'm missing something.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

Not clear (4.00 / 1) (#20)
by sl4ck0ff on Fri Jan 12, 2001 at 10:02:29 PM EST

How are you trying to get us to respond? You're asking us whether we love or hate a text editor. Expand, do we like another one better? (e.g. emacs, pico, etc). What are our favourite features of vi, or would we rather use pico because it's less complex? Stuff like that...It's not a bad idea, but could use some expansion.
/me has returned to slacking
Wrench or Spanner, Rabbit or Duck Season, vi emacs (3.75 / 4) (#21)
by turtleshadow on Fri Jan 12, 2001 at 10:04:53 PM EST

Ah the joys of verbal slapstick.
Me -- I just arrange core memory in the proper sequences -- I'm up to 1 letter an hour.

Call me an idiot ... (3.00 / 4) (#22)
by tetsuo on Fri Jan 12, 2001 at 10:36:41 PM EST

... but I prefer pico(well nano (more on that later)) to either vi or emacs. Why?

Simplicity. Having spent well over a week getting used to the foibles of emacs, and giving up on vi after a thousand tries, I've accepted the fact I'm apparently mentally inferior to all the geeks around me.

Granted pico itself isn't that great, but its sucessor nano is all that I use. Commence to the flaming.

Beyond flamewar (4.60 / 5) (#24)
by slaytanic killer on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 12:43:54 AM EST

I agree with turtleshadow's criticism, that it seems like there's no point other than a mindless editor-flame. However, there are actual reasons to use one over the other, that could actually inform or generate discussion.

. Repetitive Strain Injuries. Emacs often asks you to press tendon-draining "chords" of multiple keys at once -- this information page advocates preferring Vi to Emacs. After all, both jwz and RMS (search for "RSI") were RSI sufferers and XEmacs/Emacs developers, respectively.

. Difference in thinking of code. Modes of navigation in Vi may be much better than scrolling; moving directly to a function called "foo" might be better subconsciously than scrolling down a few pages.

There might be others. The point is, we can have more than just a flamefest, if we decide to go beyond just hating some editor.

Let me use this opportunity .. (2.30 / 10) (#25)
by Eloquence on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 12:56:03 AM EST

.. for some spam for my favorite editor under Windows. It's NoteTab Pro, an excellent, very powerful yet easy-to-use shareware program. (It got all these awards for a reason.) Also check out TreePad which lets you organize your thoughts easily in a treeview (freeware). As for vi & emacs, no comment.
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy · Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
Off Topic but couldn't resist (3.00 / 1) (#29)
by mpa000 on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 09:45:45 AM EST

I completely agree that Notetab Pro is the best MS Windows editor that I've ever used. Years ago there was one called UltraEdit (might still be around) that I used alot but I hanve't used any other MS based editor since discovering Notetab.

ObFlamebait: emacs sux, vi rulz. Voted +1 for this reason alone.

[ Parent ]

vi starts up fast, and uses little bandwidth. (4.00 / 6) (#26)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 03:24:33 AM EST

Thus, it is ideal for quick editing over slow links. If I'm on a text console and need to make a quick edit to a file. If I'm going to spend some time working on several files, I'll want not to be on a slow connection, and to run Emacs.

Also, vi has regular expression-based search and replace-- something other smallish editors lack.


Hmm.. (4.22 / 9) (#27)
by evvk on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 06:18:04 AM EST

I'm quite indifferent of vi. I know enough of it so I can use it when joe (or jed but not with emacs bindings) is not available. I've just never gotten to really learning it, so I can't say whether it is good or not. I do know that I hate emacs. The "emacs mafia" is much more oppressive than the vi people, so I have tried to learn it but I just can't stand the horrible keybindings. And emacs is way too bloated anyway.

I guess I could not resist putting this 1996 quote in a Finnish comp.wars equivalent newsgroup by Linus you-know-who here...

Emacs ei ole editori, se on LISP-tulkki joka osaa editoida tekstiä. Se ei tee _mitään_ kovin hyvin, mutta se tekee h*lvetin paljon asioita melkein hyvin. Valitettavasti jotkut ihmiset katsovat vain määrää, eivät laatua, ja pitävät siten emacsia hyvänä ohjelmana.

Emacs on paskaa, ja miljoonat kärpäset _rakastavat_ sitä. Siitä vain,

It rougly translates to
[GNU] Emacs is not an editor, it is a LISP interpreter that can edit text. It doesn't do anything very well, but it does a h*ll let of things almost well. Unfortunately some people only look at quantity and not quality and thus think of emacs as a good program.

Emacs is crap and and millions of flies _love_ it. Go ahead,


same (3.00 / 2) (#30)
by mikpos on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 10:00:47 AM EST

I'm almost the same way. I'm a joe man (except for very occasionally a NEdit man) who uses vi when joe isn't available. The only reason I use vi is because it's easier to learn than ed.

I've never actually tried using emacs, but if its interface is anything like info's (which I use on a daily basis), I don't want it. I'd also like to nominate pico as a horrible (in a "please kill me now" sort of way) editor.

[ Parent ]

Vim! (3.80 / 5) (#28)
by Matrix on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 09:35:37 AM EST

Personally, I like Vim. Its got Vi-style editing (which I found much easier to learn than EMACS' miles of c-x m-y commands) and adds a lot of useful features. Including a few options that make things a bit more sane for people coming from a non-Vi background... Like being able to backspace over anything.

"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett

love it ... (4.00 / 1) (#31)
by gregholmes on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 10:04:55 AM EST

... though I know maybe five key combinations (that I can think of, probably know more instinctively). That is almost the beauty; you don't have to know that many - though you will be very unhappy until you learn :q! and :wq ;)

positively Vile... (3.00 / 5) (#33)
by HiRes on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 04:35:38 PM EST

Am I the only one who uses vile? Every time I see the old vi/emacs holy war rear up again, I rarely if ever see anyone mention Vile. I'm in love with it (disclaimer -- IANA Hacker). From the man page: vile retains the "finger-feel", if you will, of vi, while adding the multiple buffer and multiple window features of emacs and other editors.

Somebody please tell me -- is using a hybrid like Vile the equivalent of joining Jews For Jesus? I don't want to go to Hell...
wait! before you rate, read.

vile! (none / 0) (#50)
by acestus on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 04:53:54 PM EST

I use vim. Vim is vi, improved. Just like vile, elvis, nvi, etc, it's an extended version of vi. I don't really know anyone who uses vi that doesn't enjoy the benefits of one of these. (Mostly vim.) Of course, it's dangerous to get used to using an extended editor, because one of the great things about vi is that it's ubiquitous.

This is not an exit.
[ Parent ]
I hate VI (1.61 / 13) (#34)
by iCEBaLM on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 05:55:10 PM EST

Because it's a user interface nightmare.

Things are a lot different now than 100 years ago when VI was made, we kindof expect certain things to be done certain ways, and not with mind numbing cryptic key strokes which anyone who hasn't used the editor for 6 months will have to constantly be looking up on some kind of reference sheet.

It's absolutely crazy, why should there be separate modes? Why should I have to type "o" to overwrite and "i" to insert and then escape, colon, <insert large string of letters and numbers here> to do anything.

It's a fucking text editor, not a nuclear power plant manager, and all you morons who actually like it need to try something coded in the last decade.

-- iCEBaLM

Such as? (4.25 / 4) (#35)
by xdroop on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 07:30:34 PM EST

Perhaps you can give us the benefit of your undoubtably vast and superior experience?

I like vi because when the sales support people bring back their system from the road with a f***ed /usr partition, vi is there and runs in single user mode. And since I use it every day (create an email client with no external editor command? shame on you!) there is one less learning curve when you have to do something important fast.

But the best part about using vi is that it in no way prevents anyone else from using emacs, pico, knotepad, or anything else if they so choose.
xhost +
[ Parent ]

Different is good (3.50 / 4) (#38)
by cgrabe on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 09:12:16 PM EST

I like the interface. I don't want a bunch of menus and extra windows taking up precious screen real estate. Programs designed in the last decade are too dependant on the mouse. Who needs a mouse anyway?

[ Parent ]
:1,$d (2.00 / 4) (#40)
by eventi on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 01:28:44 AM EST

:1,$s/-- iCEBaLM/TrollBomb/g

[ Parent ]
Some designs are timeless (4.00 / 3) (#42)
by yebb on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 10:37:00 AM EST

I USED to use something coded this "century" ie: kedit, nedit and various other windows text editors. Then I learned how insainly efficient and fast you can do things in vi. If you've used vi enough, all the commands become spinal choard reactions. I often just do commands without conciously thinking how to do them.

Once you get to this point, editors like vi become the only way to go, and you simply can't go back.

I don't know how many times I have had people (Usually first year Comp. Sci. people) say to me "Good God, how did you do that!? Are you some type of magic ninja!?" to which I always reply.

"Learn vi baby, learn vi."

[ Parent ]
I hate the wheel (4.00 / 4) (#46)
by Qtmstr on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 01:13:54 PM EST

Because it's a user interface nightmare.

Things are a lot different now than 10,000 years ago when the wheel was made, we kindof expect certain things to be done certain ways, and not with mind
numbing cryptic ratios, like pi, which anyone who hasn't used math for 6 months will have to constantly be looking up on some kind of reference

It's absolutely crazy, why should there be separate numbers? Why should I have to look at the diameter for one things and the diameter times pi, that infernal number, for another thing?.

It's a fucking wheel, not a nuclear power plant, and all you morons who actually like it need to try something made in the last decade.

-- QuoteMstr

Kuro5hin delenda est!
[ Parent ]
"Take THAT, feeble Emacs user!" (none / 0) (#36)
by Captain_Tenille on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 07:32:32 PM EST

I have a copy of a vi cartoon I found somewhere on the web once. As a truly confirmed vi user, I found it humorous. :-)

BTW, I swear it isn't anything gross or disgusting.
/* You are not expected to understand this. */

Man Vs. Nature: The Road to Victory!

Damn... (1.00 / 1) (#39)
by mosburger on Sat Jan 13, 2001 at 09:29:17 PM EST

I forget, am I in command mode?

--- I want to be different, just like everybody else. ---

A quote from a VI book (5.00 / 1) (#41)
by retinaburn on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 03:06:35 AM EST

I bought the O'Reily book for VI and it contained this quote:
"VI is hard to learn, but easy to use."

Of coure I also read a quote:
"Emacs is the OS, linux is the device driver."

Take your pick.

I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho

Some other of my favorites: (5.00 / 1) (#44)
by ramses0 on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 01:04:13 PM EST

"vi vi vi, the text editor of the beast."

"Emacs is a wonderful operating environment, but it lacks a good text editor. That's why I use vi."


[ rate all comments , for great justice | sell.com ]
[ Parent ]

The second quote isn't far from the truth... (none / 0) (#48)
by a clockwork llama on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 03:35:07 PM EST

When editing large documents in Emacs, I frequently switch to ansi-term mode when I need quick access to the command line. In ansi-term mode, when I come across a small config file that I have to edit, I frequently type "vi [file]" out of habit, launching an instance of vi from within Emacs. Then I do a double take, laugh, and correct the silliness ;-)

[ Parent ]
Another (none / 0) (#45)
by Qtmstr on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 01:04:53 PM EST

"Unix is a process that runs under Emacs"

"Calling Emacs a text editor is like calling the Earth a ball of dirt."

Kuro5hin delenda est!
[ Parent ]
vi simply rocks, and here's why. (4.50 / 2) (#43)
by yebb on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 11:09:33 AM EST

This is a great editor. It is almost a universal standard amongst all UNIX systems. Its rare that you can telnet to a machine, and not find vi sitting waiting to please. Its a small program (it isn't a 20 meg install like another text editor I know), loads instantly, and allows the user instant access to any functionality that they could possibly want out of a text editor.

Granted Emacs undisputibly has more functionality, and scriptibility, etc. But really, one would expect this of a text editor which has its own lisp interpreter (for crying out loud). Which I don't mean to bash, because I'm sure its great.

There is a good reason why vi uses "cryptic" keys to do things, like the "hjkl" keys acting as the arrow keys, or "$" acting as the "End" button, and "^" as the "Home" button. This is because, all terminals aren't created equal, so when you telnet to a remote system, you may or may not have use of your arrow keys. If this is the case then using pico, or some other editor that uses arrow keys, will cause you no end of grief. But I'll bet you $4 that the keys "hjkl" will still work. As will all the other vi commands.

Also, you can have people who have yet to learn vi watch you do simple things in vi (which are imposible in many editors) and they will inevitably scream "Good gravity! This man is a Jedi!" to which I think the proper response should be "Yes my son, a vi Jedi."

People who don't know how to use vi often don't want to learn it because of the learning curve. But really, if you're a programmer, then you learn languages in a night, and methodologies in a week, your whole friggin existance is learning new technologies and tools. So learning vi is really a very small task that is worth the effort.

Don't let people who are wroght with cognitive dissonance and who bash vi because they don't want to learn it, talk you out of using it. Its a skill UNIX users/admins need to have.

nobody has mentioned vi "macros" (none / 0) (#47)
by ramses0 on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 01:22:41 PM EST

One of my favorite thing is to use vi macros to automate largely repetitive tasks. For a simple example, suppose I want to find all functions which have a "{" at the end of the line, rather than the beginning of the next.


For the non vi-jedi, this will search for the regular expression having a parenthesis on the line, and ending with an open curly-brace. qa starts recording the macro into buffer "a". The $i[enter] moves to the end of the line that matched, and inserts an [enter] just before the last character. n moves to the next match, and q ends macro recording. @a will run this "a" macro, and 20@a will run that macro 20 times.

Some people might say: "oh, that's stupid, why don't you just use a search and replace?" ... I should show you my 54 character macro which re-ordered our calling function parameters automagically. :^)= Not something a simple regex can do.

Honestly, watching someone make repetetive edit's to a text file is absolutely painful, and I'll usually offer to do it in vi in 60 seconds or 60 keystrokes ;^)=

[ rate all comments , for great justice | sell.com ]

Yaaawn... (none / 0) (#49)
by a clockwork llama on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 03:46:36 PM EST

Since it hasn't already been brought up, let me just remind you all that Ed Is The Standard.

Thank you, and have a nice day.

XEmacs, baby. (none / 0) (#51)
by WWWWolf on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 08:07:32 AM EST

I use XEmacs for almost everything, though for some reasons I use vim. These reasons include, for example, root's editing needs (I don't really want to run something as heavy as XEmacs as root =)

But I use XEmacs for everything "serious". vi's keyboard commands are often clunky when I'm used to Emacs style keys... vi's two-mode approach isn't too convinient in my opinion.

"What's good for editing conf files may not be good for editing Perl..." (in style of Tao of Programming =)

-- Weyfour WWWWolf, a lupine technomancer from the cold north...

vi Lovers' Homepage | 51 comments (44 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
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