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Finally switching to vim

Peter Gundel on April 19, 2017

This article is just a selection of things I found helpful when switching to vim. So when someone asks for help because he or she wants to switch... [Read Full]
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There are two ways to think of VIM: As a text editor, and as a set of common modes and keybindings.

Switching to VIM doesn't need to be about making the switch from a fully-featured IDE to a text editor—IDEs have a lot of great functionality that text editors don't, so you're really giving up a lot for the sake of using VIM for everything.

The alternative to using VIM (the text editor) for everything, is to leverage VIM plugins for whatever tool is best fit for the job. You mention you use RubyMine; JetBrains vends an excellent VIM plugin for all their IDEs. There are excellent VIM plugins for Visual Studio, Sublime, Atom, VSCode, etc.

While VIM (the text editor) is great in its own right, and there are a lot of really great plugins, VIM is really about being able to navigate and edit text efficiently. You don't need to give up your existing tools to leverage VIM's efficiency!


I confirm that VIM plugin is a good way to go if you want the best of both worlds power of VIM and IDEs. Doing this for over a year with Visual Studio and VsVim and it works great for me (I have tried switching fully to VIM but lack of IDE features made me consider mix of IDE and VIM).
Also it is true that sometimes those plugins miss things that VIM has. But I just made a command to open current file for editing in VIM with hitting single key. So whenever I need smth. complex that plugin still doesn't have I just switch to VIM edit and return back.
Also eventually I found out that I want VIM editing everywhere :). So I made an AutoHotKey script that allows me to edit text from any input in vim (I just hit shortcut selected text loads in vim I edit it hit shortcut again and new text replaces previously selected) find this to be very handy.


Do you have a special list of plugins for working with Visual Studio ?

How does your crafted .vimrc work within Visual Studio ? Did you need to make any curious adjustment ?

I have separate configs for vim (_vimrc) and VsVIM (.vimrc) because VsVIM does not support all of the vim features. Both files are placed in default vim installation directory at C:\Program Files (x86)\Vim. VSVim picks it up automatically when you load visual studio. There is also a manual way to load it just type :s {path to your .vimrc}


an excellent VIM plugin for all their IDEs

sorry, no. If you think that, then you never actually used vim. Tried all of them, always miss some feature right when I get to speed typing (and thus my typed text turns into a mess).

EDIT: unless I misunderstood, and you mean there are plugins for vim, that let you use functionality of these IDEs. My first thought was you're talking about 'vim mode' plugin for the IDE.


While I agree that all Vim plugins eventually fall short somewhere, to say that "If you think that, then you never actually used vim" is unnecessarily harsh. For a Vim beginner a plugin is plenty, and lets them focus on the basic motions etc while still staying within a familiar environment.

If the plugin eventually falls short somewhere, then it can't be called "excellent", don't you think?

Although being a vim-lover I did react too harshly, sorry for that.


I agree. Using vim keystrokes saves lots of time when one uses emulator across multiple IDEs and editors. I use VS 15/17, several Jetbrains products, Sublime, VS Code, and everywhere I use vim emulators, keeping me comfortable across all these.


Agreed, I recommend this approach - I got started though using plugins too. Another area where plugins shine is being able to easily toggle them on and off with a button or keyboard shortcut. This really helped me when I had got confident enough to start using Vim editing at work, but sometimes wanted an escape hatch to get back to "normal" editing for more complex things that I hadn't learnt the Vim way for yet.

Plugins are also useful for if you work on Windows. There are things like gVim or installing Vim on a Cygwin terminal, but to me they always feel a bit unnatural somehow compared to the experience on a *nix box, and so plugins avoid this issue.


And what I also like about vim is that you are encouraged to adjust it to your needs. That's a really strange thing because you can do the same in the JetBrains IDEs but I never really did it. Maybe because it's already that good out of the box.


Oh that's really cool! I should definitely check this out!

Another problem with RubyMine though is that it is so slow. So I thought it is better to have a really fast text editor instead of all the IDE features from which I only use some.


Ah, yeah. I've never had performance issues with JetBrains IDEs, but I've also never used RubyMine specifically.


Thanks for the article.

For me it finally clicked when I started using buffers directly instead of tabs.

This article helped, maybe someone might find it helpful:

For OSX-Users I highly recommend VimR, which is MacVim but using NeoVim.


Thanks for this article! This also helped me a lot now :) I have to admit I was using tabs the wrong way ;) But this will change now :)


Currently using sublime, although I am quite well versed with vim.

The main reason, was that I just cannot figure out a good way to combine, Filezilla and Vim.

But you've inspired me to take another shot at it.

I think using Gvim as an option on Filezilla should work.

Thanks for this.


As many others have mentioned, it doesn't have to be all or nothing to make good use of Vim. I use vim-mode-plus in Atom, and it works great for me (though I wouldn't say by any stretch that I'm a vim power user). I use it in the areas that I feel it makes me a bit faster and more productive.

I do want to point out one other reason that makes it useful to learn Vim (modes and keybindings): Working on different machines, or VMs, where your favorite editor is not necessarily readily available, or GUI-less servers. For basic text editing it has been invaluable to learn to use Vim to do quick edits (at least for *nix machines).


The most important thing about vim is that you can't just start with a complete-guide-to-vim and then you're good to go.

I've heard or read that countless of times. And my answer is still the same: I'm not paid to learn an editor, I'm paid to produce code. I don't want to lose time in an editor, I want an interface with a high discoverability that makes me feel at home right from the start. Because I need to be productive right from the start.

People are always joking about exiting Vim - but if you think about it, it's just nuts that you need to tell an editor that you want to edit the file. You say that I have to take my time - actually it's Vim that'd take my time!

I have to deal with Vim on a daily basis for the too many terminal commands that force you to use it - starting from Git - I just don't want to deal with it any second more than necessary.

  1. I think you didn't understand the real value of an editor like Vim or Emacs. If you really take the time to learn it, it can make you more productive in the long term. So being less productive for 3 months is paying out a lot after that. But in the end everybody has to decide it for him/herself of course.

  2. You can change the terminal editor to the editor of your choice ;) (


If you really take the time to learn it, it can make you more productive in the long term.

Huh, I've heard that. As nauseam.

But guess what? I actually know hardcore Vim users. And while they're usually quite productive indeed, I can't say they're more than me... and they can't either. (The opposite holds too, by the way.)

The point is that your tools can increase your productivity that much, the rest is up to you and how good you are.

And I'm fine with VS Code and my multi cursor-fu.

It's about your personal productivity, not about the comparison with others. So if vim isn't a fit for you, it's fine. It does not mean that this also accounts for others ;) I for my part can just say that it was worth it :)


nice post!
for the multiple cursor look here

but I actually never used it.


Thanks for the link. Unfortunately, this one does not work like the JetBrains one. You can only select a whole word and find for next occurrences. In JetBrains products you can select an arbitrary amount of chars and then find the next occurrences. So when you want to select a few words that have the same prefix or suffix, you can't use this vim plugin.


Oh sorry, I installed it when I had your same feeling, but after a while I stop using it in favour of regex search/substitution or rectangular selection with .

Take a look to, some interesting ideas there.

Good luck !

Thanks for the link, I already had it in my last sentence ;)


There is vim-multiple-cursors which is really useful.

I would suggest working with vim for a bit without plugins though to learn what it can do on its own


That's a good suggestion. Playing vimgolf helps a lot in finding out features of vim (when working with one file only though).


I think it is a good thing to look at, but you should just add the things to your vim config that are really relevant to you. So check it out, read about the plugins and then decide if you would like to use them. You don't need to use all plugins and configs from the beginning.


Do try out spacemacs in evil mode. You'll like it better.


Yes I use neovim.

I didn't have look at emacs so far. But I will maybe have a look at it as soon as I am more familiar with vim.

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