OR: “Moving from Sublime Text 2 to vim.”
I have used Sublime Text since 2011. I don’t know when I first used it, beyond clear memories of it open in class during my first year at I.T. Sligo. I asked “suggest a prettier editor than Notepad++” on Facebook, and received a link to Sublime. The rest, as the cliché goes, is history.
I have used vim alongside other GUI editors since ~2001. I have used:
And so on, ad infinitum; vim-style modes and bindings are both popular and easy to shoehorn into any software at all with an API.
Sublime Text is awesome; Sublime is flexible, extensible and packed with all sorts of great features. I have relied on Sublime and the Sublime SFTP plugin since I began work on with Tuairisc in August 2014. Sublime SFTP is, like Sublime, awesome: not only has it support for FTP, but also SFTP, FTPS and straight SSH connections. It can sync files and folders in both directions. It’s easy. The problem I have is that, in the end, my dependence on vintage mode and Sublime FTP has led to bad habits:
- Why version control and sandbox the test code when I can just upload shit and see what runs?
- Why bother to learn vim in depth when Sublime Does a Good Enough Job?
Both these and other things have led me to reassess Sublime over the past few weeks:
- Many of Sublime’s keybinds aren’t friendly on my wrist in OS X. I fucked my right arm with RSI when I was bedridden during my 2012 illness. I have been careful about mouse use since then, to the point that I keybound everything in World of Warcraft. While I know I’m free to change every keybind in Sublime Text, that is a time-intensive exercise I don’t relish.
- Sublime Text and Sublime SFTP are nagware and I’m cheap.
- Sublime has become an intermediary between my true workspace and I. When I work, I feel like I am building a ship in a bottle while I wear oven mitts. Chris Hadfield’s tales of working in thick spacesuit gloves is a good allegory.
So as of Monday I went all-vim, all the time. I now work on my server through SSH, screen and tmux. I dove in headfirst as I yodeled “YOLO”. These tools allow me to now work on my code with vim, manage commits with tig and save a large amount of time. Neither do I have to fuck around with GUI applications anymore.
Here is what I have learned:
- Having a keyboard and mouse with which to copy and paste makes one lazy, but it is also slow. You can see what you need to copy and where you need to paste it, but you don’t look at their positions. You click first on one and then the other. vim-for lack of a better description-forces you to be aware of the spatial position of characters in the file. What do I need to copy? What are its line and column numbers? Where is the target area in relation to this? How many lines and columns away is the destination?
- vim isn’t as scary as I feared. I mean, fuck, whenever I think of vim, I conjure up a hoary veteran of the of the kernel mailing lists. But additions to the .vimrc (here’s mine) have proved straightforward. Adding new plugins and colour schemes (oxeded) has proved to be as simple as untarring them into the respective folder.
- Macros are a lifesaver. To give an example, I use the phpdoc style of code comments. I am able to save and then paste the same boilerplate over and over without having to type it out for the nth time.
vim has been good to me and this move has proven good for me.