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Practical Vim: Edit Text at the Speed of Thought (Pragmatic Programmers)

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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.
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