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Stop the Vim Configuration Madness

We used to use TVs as monitors and it was terrible

Convention over configuration is an established paradigm, it even has a Wikipedia page! I like the idea of things working well out of the box. However, when it comes to Vim many people are attracted to it because they’ve heard how configurable it is. I think most of us are drawn to hackable things — there’s probably a strong correlation between Vim users, Arduino hackers and Android tinkerers. But the obsession with configuration has got to go.

Too many new Vim users obsess over plugins and configuration. Let me give you an extremely important Vim tip: practice using it. I’ve seen one too many love-letter-to-Vim blog posts where the author recommends a flashy plugin that does nothing to really improve productivity. You know what improves productivity? Mastering motions and operators. Digging into Vim’s grammar to better understand how to navigate within lines, and quickly hop around large files. Are you really hammering the arrow keys or page up/down, or are you instantly flipping to a previous position with a mark, or jumping between characters with t and f?

Forget colour schemes and plugins, focus on developing your muscle memory. Any time spent mastering basic features like motions will result in far more benefits than tinkering with project navigation plugins.

When I write tutorials on this blog I work hard to avoid mentioning plugins, my goal is to teach fundamental Vim techniques. One of the best resources I’ve found for that recently was Practical Vim: Edit Text at the Speed of Thought. That book will teach you how to work with Vim effectively rather than how to configure it.

So, stop the configuration madness. Real Vim wisdom isn’t found through installing the right concoction of scripts, but from hard-won practice.



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