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Allan MacGregor πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
Allan MacGregor πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦

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Vim Is The Perfect IDE

This article was originally published in HackerNoon

Over the years I've jumped back and forth between many code editors, IDEs and tools; but it seems that somehow I always end up coming right back to VIM, and not only for programming – guess which markdown editor I'm using to write this post.

I've have tried Atom, SublimeText, TextMate, Eclipse, Visual Studio, and most of the Jetbrains products, I'm constantly tweaking and looking for a better setup, however Vim always feels like home to me; and I'm to the point now where I rarely use IDEs – exception being messy and complex projects where IDEs can do a lot of heavily lifting (yes, Magento I'm talking about you.)

But other than that Vim is my default Ruby, Elixir, Python, PHP IDE and as well the main tool that I use for writing drafts and books.

What it look like

The Setup

So how does this magical tool work? Is all out of the box right? right? Well no, as with all the worthwhile things in life there is a bit of effort involved on getting the Vim setup just like I wanted it. Fortunately, is far from custom and is mostly the right combination of plugins.

You can find my current Vim configuration and dot files in its corresponding Github repository feel free to fork it and give a shot.

We are in particular interested in the vimrc file, let's break it down:

" Allan MacGregor Vimrc configuration 
set nocompatible
syntax on
set nowrap
set encoding=utf8

"""" START Vundle Configuration 

" Disable file type for vundle
filetype off                  " required

" set the runtime path to include Vundle and initialize
set rtp+=~/.vim/bundle/Vundle.vim
call vundle#begin()

" let Vundle manage Vundle, required
Plugin 'gmarik/Vundle.vim'

" Utility
Plugin 'scrooloose/nerdtree'
Plugin 'majutsushi/tagbar'
Plugin 'ervandew/supertab'
Plugin 'BufOnly.vim'
Plugin 'wesQ3/vim-windowswap'
Plugin 'SirVer/ultisnips'
Plugin 'junegunn/fzf.vim'
Plugin 'junegunn/fzf'
Plugin 'godlygeek/tabular'
Plugin 'ctrlpvim/ctrlp.vim'
Plugin 'benmills/vimux'
Plugin 'jeetsukumaran/vim-buffergator'
Plugin 'gilsondev/searchtasks.vim'
Plugin 'Shougo/neocomplete.vim'
Plugin 'tpope/vim-dispatch'

" Generic Programming Support 
Plugin 'jakedouglas/exuberant-ctags'
Plugin 'honza/vim-snippets'
Plugin 'Townk/vim-autoclose'
Plugin 'tomtom/tcomment_vim'
Plugin 'tobyS/vmustache'
Plugin 'janko-m/vim-test'
Plugin 'maksimr/vim-jsbeautify'
Plugin 'vim-syntastic/syntastic'
Plugin 'neomake/neomake'

" Markdown / Writting
Plugin 'reedes/vim-pencil'
Plugin 'tpope/vim-markdown'
Plugin 'jtratner/vim-flavored-markdown'
Plugin 'LanguageTool'

" Git Support
Plugin 'kablamo/vim-git-log'
Plugin 'gregsexton/gitv'
Plugin 'tpope/vim-fugitive'
"Plugin 'jaxbot/github-issues.vim'

" PHP Support
Plugin 'phpvim/phpcd.vim'
Plugin 'tobyS/pdv'

" Erlang Support
Plugin 'vim-erlang/vim-erlang-tags'
Plugin 'vim-erlang/vim-erlang-runtime'
Plugin 'vim-erlang/vim-erlang-omnicomplete'
Plugin 'vim-erlang/vim-erlang-compiler'

" Elixir Support 
Plugin 'elixir-lang/vim-elixir'
Plugin 'avdgaag/vim-phoenix'
Plugin 'mmorearty/elixir-ctags'
Plugin 'mattreduce/vim-mix'
Plugin 'BjRo/vim-extest'
Plugin 'frost/vim-eh-docs'
Plugin 'slashmili/alchemist.vim'
Plugin 'tpope/vim-endwise'
Plugin 'jadercorrea/elixir_generator.vim'

" Elm Support
Plugin 'lambdatoast/elm.vim'

" Theme / Interface
Plugin 'AnsiEsc.vim'
Plugin 'ryanoasis/vim-devicons'
Plugin 'vim-airline/vim-airline'
Plugin 'vim-airline/vim-airline-themes'
Plugin 'sjl/badwolf'
Plugin 'tomasr/molokai'
Plugin 'morhetz/gruvbox'
Plugin 'zenorocha/dracula-theme', {'rtp': 'vim/'}
Plugin 'junegunn/limelight.vim'
Plugin 'mkarmona/colorsbox'
Plugin 'romainl/Apprentice'
Plugin 'Lokaltog/vim-distinguished'
Plugin 'chriskempson/base16-vim'
Plugin 'w0ng/vim-hybrid'
Plugin 'AlessandroYorba/Sierra'
Plugin 'daylerees/colour-schemes'
Plugin 'effkay/argonaut.vim'
Plugin 'ajh17/Spacegray.vim'
Plugin 'atelierbram/Base2Tone-vim'
Plugin 'colepeters/spacemacs-theme.vim'

" OSX stupid backspace fix
set backspace=indent,eol,start

call vundle#end()            " required
filetype plugin indent on    " required
"""" END Vundle Configuration 

" Configuration Section

" Show linenumbers
set number
set ruler

" Set Proper Tabs
set tabstop=4
set shiftwidth=4
set smarttab
set expandtab

" Always display the status line
set laststatus=2

" Enable Elite mode, No ARRRROWWS!!!!
let g:elite_mode=1

" Enable highlighting of the current line
set cursorline

" Theme and Styling 
set t_Co=256
set background=dark

if (has("termguicolors"))
  set termguicolors

let base16colorspace=256  " Access colors present in 256 colorspace
colorscheme spacegray
" colorscheme spacemacs-theme

let g:spacegray_underline_search = 1
let g:spacegray_italicize_comments = 1

" Vim-Airline Configuration
let g:airline#extensions#tabline#enabled = 1
let g:airline_powerline_fonts = 1 
let g:airline_theme='hybrid'
let g:hybrid_custom_term_colors = 1
let g:hybrid_reduced_contrast = 1 

" Syntastic Configuration
set statusline+=%#warningmsg#
set statusline+=%{SyntasticStatuslineFlag()}
set statusline+=%*

let g:syntastic_always_populate_loc_list = 1
let g:syntastic_auto_loc_list = 1
let g:syntastic_check_on_open = 1
" let g:syntastic_check_on_wq = 0
" let g:syntastic_enable_elixir_checker = 1
" let g:syntastic_elixir_checkers = ["elixir"]

" Neomake settings
autocmd! BufWritePost * Neomake
let g:neomake_elixir_enabled_makers = ['mix', 'credo', 'dogma']

" Vim-PDV Configuration 
let g:pdv_template_dir = $HOME ."/.vim/bundle/pdv/templates_snip"

" Markdown Syntax Support
augroup markdown
    au BufNewFile,BufRead *.md,*.markdown setlocal filetype=ghmarkdown
augroup END

" Github Issues Configuration
let g:github_access_token = "e6fb845bd306a3ca7f086cef82732d1d5d9ac8e0"

" Vim-Alchemist Configuration
let g:alchemist#elixir_erlang_src = "/Users/amacgregor/Projects/Github/alchemist-source"
let g:alchemist_tag_disable = 1

" Vim-Supertab Configuration
let g:SuperTabDefaultCompletionType = "<C-X><C-O>"

" Settings for Writting
let g:pencil#wrapModeDefault = 'soft'   " default is 'hard'
let g:languagetool_jar  = '/opt/languagetool/languagetool-commandline.jar'

" Vim-pencil Configuration
augroup pencil
  autocmd FileType markdown,mkd call pencil#init()
  autocmd FileType text         call pencil#init()
augroup END

" Vim-UtilSnips Configuration
" Trigger configuration. Do not use <tab> if you use
let g:UltiSnipsExpandTrigger="<tab>"
let g:UltiSnipsJumpForwardTrigger="<c-b>"
let g:UltiSnipsJumpBackwardTrigger="<c-z>"
let g:UltiSnipsEditSplit="vertical" " If you want :UltiSnipsEdit to split your window.

" Vim-Test Configuration
let test#strategy = "vimux"

" Neocomplete Settings
let g:acp_enableAtStartup = 0
let g:neocomplete#enable_at_startup = 1
let g:neocomplete#enable_smart_case = 1
let g:neocomplete#sources#syntax#min_keyword_length = 3

" Define dictionary.
let g:neocomplete#sources#dictionary#dictionaries = {
    \ 'default' : '',
    \ 'vimshell' : $HOME.'/.vimshell_hist',
    \ 'scheme' : $HOME.'/.gosh_completions'
        \ }

" Define keyword.
if !exists('g:neocomplete#keyword_patterns')
    let g:neocomplete#keyword_patterns = {}
let g:neocomplete#keyword_patterns['default'] = '\h\w*'

function! s:my_cr_function()
  return (pumvisible() ? "\<C-y>" : "" ) . "\<CR>"
  " For no inserting <CR> key.
  "return pumvisible() ? "\<C-y>" : "\<CR>"

" Close popup by <Space>.
"inoremap <expr><Space> pumvisible() ? "\<C-y>" : "\<Space>"

" AutoComplPop like behavior.
"let g:neocomplete#enable_auto_select = 1

" Enable omni completion.
autocmd FileType css setlocal omnifunc=csscomplete#CompleteCSS
autocmd FileType html,markdown setlocal omnifunc=htmlcomplete#CompleteTags
autocmd FileType javascript setlocal omnifunc=javascriptcomplete#CompleteJS
autocmd FileType python setlocal omnifunc=pythoncomplete#Complete
autocmd FileType xml setlocal omnifunc=xmlcomplete#CompleteTags

" Enable heavy omni completion.
if !exists('g:neocomplete#sources#omni#input_patterns')
  let g:neocomplete#sources#omni#input_patterns = {}
"let g:neocomplete#sources#omni#input_patterns.php = '[^. \t]->\h\w*\|\h\w*::'
"let g:neocomplete#sources#omni#input_patterns.c = '[^.[:digit:] *\t]\%(\.\|->\)'
"let g:neocomplete#sources#omni#input_patterns.cpp = '[^.[:digit:] *\t]\%(\.\|->\)\|\h\w*::'

" For perlomni.vim setting.
let g:neocomplete#sources#omni#input_patterns.perl = '\h\w*->\h\w*\|\h\w*::'

" Elixir Tagbar Configuration
let g:tagbar_type_elixir = {
    \ 'ctagstype' : 'elixir',
    \ 'kinds' : [
        \ 'f:functions',
        \ 'functions:functions',
        \ 'c:callbacks',
        \ 'd:delegates',
        \ 'e:exceptions',
        \ 'i:implementations',
        \ 'a:macros',
        \ 'o:operators',
        \ 'm:modules',
        \ 'p:protocols',
        \ 'r:records',
        \ 't:tests'
    \ ]
    \ }

" Fzf Configuration
" This is the default extra key bindings
let g:fzf_action = {
  \ 'ctrl-t': 'tab split',
  \ 'ctrl-x': 'split',
  \ 'ctrl-v': 'vsplit' }

" Default fzf layout
" - down / up / left / right
let g:fzf_layout = { 'down': '~40%' }

" In Neovim, you can set up fzf window using a Vim command
let g:fzf_layout = { 'window': 'enew' }
let g:fzf_layout = { 'window': '-tabnew' }

" Customize fzf colors to match your color scheme
let g:fzf_colors =
\ { 'fg':      ['fg', 'Normal'],
  \ 'bg':      ['bg', 'Normal'],
  \ 'hl':      ['fg', 'Comment'],
  \ 'fg+':     ['fg', 'CursorLine', 'CursorColumn', 'Normal'],
  \ 'bg+':     ['bg', 'CursorLine', 'CursorColumn'],
  \ 'hl+':     ['fg', 'Statement'],
  \ 'info':    ['fg', 'PreProc'],
  \ 'prompt':  ['fg', 'Conditional'],
  \ 'pointer': ['fg', 'Exception'],
  \ 'marker':  ['fg', 'Keyword'],
  \ 'spinner': ['fg', 'Label'],
  \ 'header':  ['fg', 'Comment'] }

" Enable per-command history.
" CTRL-N and CTRL-P will be automatically bound to next-history and
" previous-history instead of down and up. If you don't like the change,
" explicitly bind the keys to down and up in your $FZF_DEFAULT_OPTS.
let g:fzf_history_dir = '~/.local/share/fzf-history'

" Mappings configurationn
map <C-n> :NERDTreeToggle<CR>
map <C-m> :TagbarToggle<CR>

" Omnicomplete Better Nav
inoremap <expr> <c-j> ("\<C-n>")
inoremap <expr> <c-k> ("\<C-p>")

" Neocomplete Plugin mappins
inoremap <expr><C-g>     neocomplete#undo_completion()
inoremap <expr><C-l>     neocomplete#complete_common_string()

" Recommended key-mappings.
" <CR>: close popup and save indent.
inoremap <silent> <CR> <C-r>=<SID>my_cr_function()<CR>

" <TAB>: completion.
inoremap <expr><TAB>  pumvisible() ? "\<C-n>" : "\<TAB>"

" <C-h>, <BS>: close popup and delete backword char.
inoremap <expr><C-h> neocomplete#smart_close_popup()."\<C-h>"
inoremap <expr><BS> neocomplete#smart_close_popup()."\<C-h>"

" Mapping selecting Mappings
nmap <leader><tab> <plug>(fzf-maps-n)
xmap <leader><tab> <plug>(fzf-maps-x)
omap <leader><tab> <plug>(fzf-maps-o)

" Shortcuts
nnoremap <Leader>o :Files<CR> 
nnoremap <Leader>O :CtrlP<CR>
nnoremap <Leader>w :w<CR>

" Insert mode completion
imap <c-x><c-k> <plug>(fzf-complete-word)
imap <c-x><c-f> <plug>(fzf-complete-path)
imap <c-x><c-j> <plug>(fzf-complete-file-ag)
imap <c-x><c-l> <plug>(fzf-complete-line)

" Vim-Test Mappings
nmap <silent> <leader>t :TestNearest<CR>
nmap <silent> <leader>T :TestFile<CR>
nmap <silent> <leader>a :TestSuite<CR>
nmap <silent> <leader>l :TestLast<CR>
nmap <silent> <leader>g :TestVisit<CR>

" Vim-PDV Mappings
autocmd FileType php inoremap <C-p> <ESC>:call pdv#DocumentWithSnip()<CR>i
autocmd FileType php nnoremap <C-p> :call pdv#DocumentWithSnip()<CR>
autocmd FileType php setlocal omnifunc=phpcd#CompletePHP

" Disable arrow movement, resize splits instead.
if get(g:, 'elite_mode')
    nnoremap <Up>    :resize +2<CR>
    nnoremap <Down>  :resize -2<CR>
    nnoremap <Left>  :vertical resize +2<CR>
    nnoremap <Right> :vertical resize -2<CR>

map <silent> <LocalLeader>ws :highlight clear ExtraWhitespace<CR>

" Advanced customization using autoload functions
inoremap <expr> <c-x><c-k> fzf#vim#complete#word({'left': '15%'})

" Vim-Alchemist Mappings
autocmd FileType elixir nnoremap <buffer> <leader>h :call alchemist#exdoc()<CR>
autocmd FileType elixir nnoremap <buffer> <leader>d :call alchemist#exdef()<CR>

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Each plugin in this setup is separated in the following categories:


This kind of a miscellaneous category and is comprised of plugins used to enhance or change the behaivour of core vim; the most useful important ones are:

  • Nerdtree: It gives you easy access to the file system in the form of a directory tree on the left side of the screen, as well provides shortcuts for filesystem manipulation(create, delete, move files and directories)
  • Tagbar: Quick tag browser for the current file, a must have if you are using any kind of ctags like exuberant-tags.
  • FZF: Fuzzy finder, another handy utility for finding files and commands.
  • Neocomplete: Vim Autocomplete on steroids.

Generic Programming Support

These plugins fall directly on the category of programming and are used my all or most of the programming languages that I currently have setup:

  • Exuberant-Ctags: tags are named definitions of classes, functions, abstract types and so on; adding support to Vim gives you some of that 'magic' IDE code navigation functionality.
  • Syntastic: THE syntax checking plugin for Vim, if you are familiar with the way that code inspections work on Jetbrains and similar IDEs, syntastic will make feel right at home.
  • Vim-autoclose: Automatically closes a character that could/should have a matching closing counterpart, like () "" [] {} and so on.


As I mentioned Vim is my go to editor for drafting new posts be it books, blogs or random angry letters. From this particular section only language tools deservers a special shot-out as it makes for a great Grammar checker directly from inside Vim.

Erlang/Elixir/PHP/Elm Support

When it comes down to the individual language support there isn't really much to highlight other than I've tried (and somewhat failed) to keep the plugins to a minimum and focus only on the essential language support.

So far elixir is winning the battle in terms of plugins as I've added additional functionality like the ability to run tests and generate content from inside Vim, I have yet to decide if I'm keeping all the plugins for it.

Git Support

Standard git support that I'm afraid I rarely use, I find myself going directly back to the shell and doing the git workflow outside of Vim, so I'm open to suggestions and to hear what everyone else is using in terms of setup.

Themes and Interfaces

Ok this is a big one but mostly because I keep forgetting to remove unused themes and colorschemes, let's highlight the important ones:

  • Vimarline: Lean and mean status/tabline for Vim; it also looks cool as fuck.
  • Vim-Devicons: Because not only atom gets all the fancy icons on the sidebar, highly recommended to if you are using nerdtree.

The remaining parts of the configuration file are either plugin configuration or personal key re-mappings that I use for quality of like; I've done my best to document and segment each section so it should be easy enough to understand what each setting is doing.

For anyone getting starting with Vim, I do want to bring special attention to the following:

" Disable arrow movement, resize splits instead.
if get(g:, 'elite_mode')
    nnoremap <Up>    :resize +2<CR>
    nnoremap <Down>  :resize -2<CR>
    nnoremap <Left>  :vertical resize +2<CR>
    nnoremap <Right> :vertical resize -2<CR>
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As there is no quickest way to force one-self to use the home row for navigation.

Final Remarks

I hope that for some of you this post has been helpful for some, and I'm far from done with my current setup, in that sense this is very much a toy that I continue playing on a nearly daily basis; now that being said and in order to get back to the original premise of the post; it is indeed a very powerful toy, specially when combined with other tools like Tmux, here is a sneak peak of my Elixir 'IDE' powered by Vim and Tmux:

If you want to know more about my setup, or want to share yours please leave a comment below.

Top comments (99)

bgadrian profile image
Adrian B.G. where is the dislike button? :/

  1. VIM is not an IDE, just an editor that helps you write faster

  2. After you install 30 plugins and spend years of learning it you can come close to an IDE, but you lost a lot of time, for nothing.

  3. The length of the post and the config file is working against you, is proof that is not easy to work with, and still not doing a proper job

If you would use an IDE in a proper manner (See Visual Studio or intelliJ) you will realize that your productivity is not about writing text (what Vim excels at), is at making your code work in the real world. Is more about development and less about being a type writer.

If you write books, articles or pseudocode Vim is the best tool I agree, but
the devs usually need to do DB queries, work with env tools, debug, see static analyzers warning, deploy dockers, run automatic tests, do merges, do huge refactoring that touches many files, find the "blame" on a bug, and so on (without writing or remember CLI commands or wasting time to setup the IDE).

Just saying, as a "director" you should appreciate productivity and do not make "feels like home" decisions for work projects. Do not confuse "what I like to do" with "what I have to do, as a professional".

By not using the proper tool, that gives you the fastest and most productivity you are wasting your employers money, so you are not being professional, you are just selfish.

allanmacgregor profile image
Allan MacGregor πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ • Edited


VIM is a tool, every developer is entitled to its opinion and preference, VIM might not be the right fit for all stacks or all applications but I have successfully use it to work as you mention for writing, python development, elixir/erlang development.

IntelliJ is great and I use it for other kinds of development (ionic for example); I find the knee jerk reaction to the size of configuration file a bit risible, the configuration file as shared has support for several languages, stacks and some of my personal customizations.

Finally, I find that the ad hominem attack on the last part of your reply actually subtracts from what was actually some valid points on your argument.

bgadrian profile image
Adrian B.G.

I just wanted to raise awareness on "VIM priests" that spread their false gossips around, I probably sound more passive-aggressive then it should.

You just "forget" to mention that it is a personal preference, and state that "Vim is the perfect IDE" (for me?!), knowing in fact that is not even an IDE and not perfect. You "forget" to mention that you spent maybe years of being prolific, where in IDE's most of the things "just works".

VIM is great when you have many small scripts/projects, or you alter big projects with minimal invasion, edit big files, or you are a sys admin, or ...(insert here a lot of stuff you didn't mention), but ....

It is "a common trap" that I've seen are with web dev juniors, they usually:

  • find a post like this
  • decide to try VIM and like it
  • they are getting very good at coding (typing fast,and moving around the document)
  • they have the false productivity feeling (the amount of code != solving more business problems)
  • they advance to bigger projects (as in scope and LOC count), and hit some walls. Then invest more and more time in their VIM skills and configs, and in the end being less productive.

This combined with the fact that people hate change, leads to bigger problems once the developer gets involved in bigger and more complex projects.

I just want to make things clear for the juniors and next generation of developers to make a big difference between "personal preferences" and "best tool for the job", and posts like this doesn't help at all.

Thread Thread
aghost7 profile image
Jonathan Boudreau

Please keep in mind that everything you've said so far is anecdotal. Others, such as me, may have different experiences.

Thread Thread
dubyabrian profile image
W. Brian Gourlie • Edited

I tend to agree with BG. Tooling becomes vastly important when working with larger and more complex codebases. The kind of code analysis provided by actual IDEs simply cannot be replicated in Vim no matter how it's customized.

Vim is great, but Vim is ultimately just a powerful text editor. BG is correct in that the anti-IDE stance is alluring for junior devs, providing false machismo in the absence of experience and well-honed skills.

We really need to change the way we talk about Vim. Here are my suggestions:

  • Stop comparing it to emacs. They are vastly different things.
  • Let's distinguish Vim "the concept" from Vim "the application."
  • What's important here is Vim, the concept

Vim, conceptually, is mode-based text editing with consistent, highly optimized keybindings. The beautiful thing about vim-as-a-concept is that it's available in some form or fashion in nearly every IDE and text editor.

Thread Thread
bgadrian profile image
Adrian B.G.

"vim-as-a-concept is that it's available in some form or fashion in nearly every IDE and text editor." ... and browser.

Thread Thread
aghost7 profile image
Jonathan Boudreau

In my line of work, I've seen little to no benefit with static analysis. I am working on a highly dynamic codebase. Sure, if your language is static its great, but I really don't see this as being a reason for not using VIM. I've actually seen VIM autocompletion be more accurate than IDE's (for newer languages such as Rust).

Thread Thread
bgadrian profile image
Adrian B.G.

I am very curious in what languages/line of work there are no benefits for static analysis, can you give some examples?

Thread Thread
aghost7 profile image
Jonathan Boudreau

Javascript - we use dependency injection heavily.

Thread Thread
bgadrian profile image
Adrian B.G.

wow ok, your team is great then! I was part of teams that didn't used but we ended up regretting.

I usually saw linters solving a lot of (very small) problems in large teams and projects, like (forces a coding standard, find small bugs like forgetting to type a var or forgetting a switch default, fewer git merges/conflicts) which leads to a better codebase in general (if you enforce the rules at commit/build).

As a sidenote linters are builtin in most IDEs so maybe you use them already, but only at a basic level.

Thread Thread
aghost7 profile image
Jonathan Boudreau • Edited

We use eslint (for the older projects, a combination of jshint and jscs). The plugin I use for vim (ale) works with pretty much any kind of linter I've encountered.

This isn't the sort of static analysis I'd expect from and IDE though, this is what I'd expect from any kind of programmers editor (vscode, sublime, etc). What I meant by static analysis is the ability to goto definition, display documentation, refactor, etc. This is the sort of stuff which doesn't work consistently enough with our codebase to even bother trying.

jaredcobb profile image
Jared Cobb

Ha, these kinds of comments always baffle me...

Your comment can be summarized as:

Your personal preference is wrong... You are not more productive with your favorite tools.

It's like telling someone "No, you shouldn't like chocolate", or "Your favorite movie is wrong".

alainvanhout profile image
Alain Van Hout

Chocolate and movies are indeed a matter of taste, but productivity is not (also note that 'feeling productive' and 'being productive' are two different things).

Of course, these kind of discussions tend to spiral into the following, myself included :-)

Duty Calls

bgadrian profile image
Adrian B.G.

That is the problem, he didn't specified it is a personal preference, he said it as an absolute truth and other people can make wrong decisions.

Thread Thread
rudreshdixit profile image

Wow great insight
I actually wasted a lot of time in this stuff. Your insights. are very useful to me

chandwki profile image
Chris Handwerker

Linux, the whole environment, is your IDE. Vim is just one part of it.

ronbarhash profile image

B.G. ..... My subjective opinion: you are bore and hysterical. It is a fact. And all about what you find fault with the author of the article applies to your claims. All this is subjective, even your praised productivity.

I apologize for my english - google translate.

"Stay hungry ..stay foolish.". Steve Jobs.

bgadrian profile image
Adrian B.G.

Nope sorry, productivity can be measured, and the time you invested to reach that level.
Also my claims can be easily verified after one week of Vim.

Thread Thread
atbtavares profile image
AndrΓ© Tavares

sorry, client satisfied can be measured only

Thread Thread
hisownspace profile image
David Nash • Edited

I'm sorry but this statement is ludicrous. Productivity can indeed be measured, but the metrics you choose to measure are completely subjective.

That's somewhat besides the point, but coming from someone who seems downright angry that someone else presents subjective fact as the truth, your assertion is beyond hypocritical.

More importantly, it's absurd to argue that vim is inherently less productive than using any IDE. I keep hearing how vim users are preachy and judgmental, but I have never heard anything from a vim user as dogmatic, condescending, ignorant or absolutist as anything you've said in this thread.

Thread Thread
nikfp profile image
Nik F P

Well stated and to the point.

ludamillion profile image
Luke Inglis

the devs usually need to do DB queries, work with env tools, debug, see static analyzers warning, deploy dockers, run automatic tests, do merges, do huge refactoring that touches many files, find the "blame" on a bug, and so on (without writing or remember CLI commands or wasting time to setup the IDE).

I can do pretty much all of that in Vim with only a handful of plugins and little configuration. Also of note I've been in the biziness for roughly 7 years and have never had to deploy a container. πŸ€·πŸΌβ€β™‚οΈ YMMV

transcendenting profile image

This, so much. I downloaded VSCode, used a clean GUI to install a few plugins, and I was developing nodeJS in minutes. That vimrc convinced me to never use the editor for anything serious.

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Suraj Pal Singh

Well I partially agree with you.
As I use NeoVim for all my dev purposes, earlier I used to use Jetbrains' GoLand with vim plugin, I couldn't feel much difference as long as productivity is concerned. Only reason I shifted to NeoVim was so that I don't have to use mouse, and I was too busy to learn Jetbrains' shortcuts.

I was able to replicate most functionalities... debugger you say? yes that is one major caveat in Vim or Neovim, etc. but I was able to successfully integrate that too in vim.
I have heavily customized init.vim (not too many plugins, around 10-15) and I can work very fast while doing my work.

What I'm trying to say is,
Vim alone --> just an editor
Vim with right set of tools (I don't mean plugins here) --> a Development Environment, only difference is they are not integrated, hence not an IDE.

Now I'm not any pro or something like that, but the works that I have done till now, I can tell I was more productive with NeoVim with conjunction to some other tools when compared to an IDE.

huaca profile image
Hugo Cabrera

where is the dislike button?

VIM is awsome, but not for everybody

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Adrian B.G.

vim exit

I am actually using Vim, my point is that title of the post should be "Vim is the perfect IDE ... for me".

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George Offley

^ This person is my favorite.

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Daniel Toebe

I'm in the same place. It seems like one a year I go out and try out other editors or IDEs, and always find myself in vim. Well now Neovim and using deoplete. I've tried the new language server protocol, but had some prefomance issues. To answer the question below. I primarily develop Go these days so I have that deeply integrated. Delve for breakpoints, I get in line errors as well simple key bindings for extra go metalinter tooling. It does take work and your config is a living setup.

maxdevjs profile image

Would you mind to share your Go config for (Neo)vim?

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Roshak Zarhoun

Yes @dtoebe ! I would appreciate it as well

lancecontreras profile image
Lance Contreras • Edited

I'm a vim fanboy, I really think it's a great tool but it's far from being perfect. The great thing about vim, as you demonstrated in this post is that there's an unlimited amount of customization you can do to it. With that, I can't imagine two developers having the same set of plugins and the same vimrc file. It's just so personal.

The title you've chosen is somehow provocative that's why I can see some violent reactions here. But I understand, that's not your intent.

For me the best way to learn vim is to see how others use it. And I appreciate you sharing what you got. Thanks!

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George Offley

I'd also like a dislike button. VIM is like all kids in the 80s who knew how to solve the Rubik's cube puzzle decided to make and IDE version. An over complicated, hard to figure out editor. Which they can feel superior in using knowing that only they know how to use it.

tnolte profile image
Tim Nolte • Edited

What do you care what another developer uses? This sounds like just another Mac vs Windows vs Linux argument that is all opinions

BTW, I know of companies that use Notepad++ as their "IDE" and in my opinion it's no different than vim(or a variant like Neovim).

georgeoffley profile image
George Offley

I don't care what another developer uses. It literally does not matter, in the long run. However I like these arguments. It's always funny to see the more extreme reactions and insightful to see the discussions to these small details.

Do you know why I love these arguments? Simply because I'm not arguing with some faceless twitter avatar about why women, people of color, LGBTQ+ people are under represented (or underpaid) in STEM fields. I don't have to make some passionate argument as to why basic human decency and inclusion should apply to everyone.

You get into a having a real discussion about people's experiences and why these features matter from one person to the other. I just enjoy the debate.

You're right though, it does not matter.

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Triston Chavez • Edited

I love vim. I started learning java on a Chromebook, which Eclipse proved too much for and wound up on Codenvy. From there I messed with IntelliJ and Eclipse Photon but I really didn't like either. Especially Eclipse photon plugins suck, the ui feels laggy, there are tiny mostly inconsequential bug that are just annoying enough to trigger my OCD. I get the benefits on a larger code base but vim is something that can be fine tuned. Sure it's more work, but I can be sure vim (neovim) will work smoothly and exactly how I want. The LanguageClient plugin I run is way more consistent than the vscode redhat plugin and they share a! I'm an obsessive tinker and vim fulfills both for me!

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Vlastimil Pospichal

Too much plugins for too little benefits. I do not traverse the directory tree. I search files, I search for words in files. I use abbreviations and macros for writing code, refactoring, compiling, testing,... everything in the Vim. I don't want IDE. I like my Vim.

readyready15728 profile image

I'm somewhere in between you and the OP. Here's my configuration:

I've chosen to be pretty conservative with it so far but Vundle and a number of the things that can be installed with it are really good. That said, at this time I still only have nine Vundle plugins downloaded.

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Arthur Zhuk

A lot of people can't grasp this.

tomerbendavid profile image
Tomer Ben David • Edited

"Vim is my default Ruby, Elixir, Python, PHP IDE" . I have noticed all these languages are dynamically typed.

You can't compare the power of intellij for statically typed languages over any text editor as sophisticated as it can be. I have noticed as well that for dynamically typed languages it's not that much of a powerful difference (there is but not as for statically typed languages) if you use a light text editor or ide.

  1. Can it show show call hierarchy?
  2. The exact types of expressions? Show method callers?
  3. Search for variable references?
  4. Search for function references?
  5. Suggest and complete function and variables types?
  6. Show compile errors as you type? In code itself (red line).
  7. Refactor correctly large codebase?
  8. Suggest to change parent variable name or.method names when refactoring child?
  9. Powerful debugger.
  10. Build in coverage markers.
  11. Git annotate blame in source code.

Much more powerful stuff which help maintain and analyze codebases and projects not written by me. Or written by me and maintained by others.

paroxallax profile image
Triston Chavez

8 Of these things are covered under LSP specs. LSP really makes these features portable to just about any editor that can implement LSP client.

perrydbucs profile image
Perry Donham

Not a snarky comment, I'm truly curious: How tough is to do debug tasks (set breakpoints, view/modify variables, etc)?

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Allan MacGregor πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦

Closest thing you get to an IDE debugging support would be something like which supports PHP, Python, Ruby, Perl, Tcl and NodeJS.

graycatfromspace profile image
Jacob D.

How many times are you going to repost this same article?

minompi profile image

I really appreciate vim but honestly there are some functionality that other editors have already configured like: you can view immediately unused code, jump to a file easily and fast, autocomplete methods and variables name.
This features can be added on vim but sometimes they are hard to configure and many times is too difficult to do it in my opinion.
But for many files I use vim for example: configuration file, markdown, readme and others.

moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair

Autocompletion of anything in open buffers is available out-the-box. Jumping to files depends on what you mean, but capital-letter marks and things like gd and gf will do that for you. Buffers match by partial and filenames autocomplete when opening them. Unused code is a much more IDE thing though, which requires actual inspection of the code rather than pattern-based syntax highlighting.

spiperac profile image

Slows you down? Not sure what are you working on, but if i can guess i'd say you are writing a novel, and in that case it's understandable.
I usually write ~500 lines of code a day ( mega wild guess), and that takes around 1-2hr of an actual productive work, everything else is debugging, looking into documentation or staring at the wall.
If you are a dev tho, i really can't see what's slowing you down, except if you are mashing random keystrokes 8 hours a day straight and calling that 'programming'.

avasconcelos114 profile image
Andre Vasconcelos • Edited

Tried to set up my vim using your .vimrc file. The plugin install hangs on the jakedouglas/exuberant-ctags plugin, further examining revealed the repo on github no longer exists

Note: Fixed by removing Plugin 'jakedouglas/exuberant-ctags' line and installing package with sudo apt-get install exuberant-ctags instead (on Ubuntu 16.04)

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Manideep Polireddi

I have been pretty happy with IDEAvim plugin for IntelliJ products. It even works with a custom vimrc. But not the plugins. For the plugin stuff I just rely on IntelliJ and it has been great.

scheidig profile image
Albrecht Scheidig

Also happily using it, but have that issue, that keybindings work inconsistently in dialogs (

patrick profile image
Patrick Ziegler

Lots of interesting things here, hadn't had the time to thurougly look at it, but one thing right away: Maybe you don't want to post your github auth token on here.

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Brian Hogg

At a previous job, I used VIM because it was the editor the other devs were using, and specifically there was remote pair-programming that utilized VIM. Now, I know folks love it -- the devs at the job sure did -- but I loathed every minute of coding with it.

The basic paradigm felt like it was eschewing any modernity just for its own sake, as though the peak of computing tech came into existence 40 years ago, and not even something like the newfangled mouse would be acknowledged. The idea of flipping between modes struck me -- and still does -- as ludicrous.

The two main perks of the VIM, as far as I've ever seen, are both related to speed: one being that you never need to move your hands off the keyboard, and the other being at how fast the editor lets you work. And while I can type at upwards of 90 words per minute, I don't program at that speed. Do any of you? I wonder how relevant that level of speed is to anyone.

And as far as the speed it grants you … I never really saw that. Not just from my own begrudging use, but I lost track of the amount of time I spent watching the other devs going into change something and bragging about the speed of VIM, only to spend a lot more time making whatever change than it would've taken with an IDE. Now, I can't say that all of the dev in the office weren't just totally clueless about how to use VIM, so maybe it's their fault, not the editor. But there were 6 of them, and it was consistent.

(If it's an editor you like, that's cool. I personally like Visual Studio Code, as it's a good mix of time-saving keyboard shortcuts with features using technology developed in the time since man's landed on the moon, but since this conversation is getting all testy I figured I'd jump in)

moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair • Edited

Close to <insert IDE name here> ? Probably pretty close.

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