Conventional wisdom dictates that Vim has a steep learning curve. I think
most Vim users would disagree. Sure, there’s an initial hump, but once you
run through vimtutor and learn the basics of what to put in your vimrc, you
reach a point where you can actually get work done—a sort of hobbled productivity.
What comes next? The Internet’s answer to this is the “tip”—a recipe for
solving a specific problem. You might search for specific tips when your current
solution to a problem feels suboptimal, or you might proactively read some
of the more popular tips. This strategy works—it’s how I learned, after all—but
it’s slow. Learning that * searches for the word under the cursor is helpful,
but it hardly helps you think like a Vim master.
You can understand my skepticism, then, when I found out Practical Vim was
using a tips format. How could a couple of hundred tips accomplish what
took me thousands? A few pages in I realized my definition of “tip” was narrowminded.
In contrast to the problem/solution pattern I had expected, Practical
Vim tips teach lessons in thinking like a proficient Vim user. In a sense, they
are more like parables than recipes. The first few tips are lessons about the
wide applicability of the . command. This is a staple of any proficient Vim
user’s repertoire, yet without guidance it was years before I came to realize
this on my own.
It is for this reason that I am excited about the publication of Practical Vim.
Because now when Vim novices ask me what’s the next step, I know what to
tell them. After all, Practical Vim even taught me a few things.