Why use Vim?

Why should use an editor like Vim (or EMACS) over an IDE such as PyCharm, Eclipse…?

Start times

Well, for one, look at start times.

Editor Startup time
Vim 133.815 ms
EMACS 0.05 S
Eclipse 27.62s

As you can see, Vim whips Eclipse with 0.133s vs 27.62s

Note that my cursor froze several times while starting Eclipse, and the figure is the time from command line invocation to me being able to force an exit.

UNIX motto

The UNIX motto is:

Do one thing, and do it well.

Vim does one thing: Edit text.

EMACS does a couple: Edit text, browse web, and play snake. (Alt-x snake)

PyCharm: Take up RAM, make you angry, learn the killall command, and think about your life choices.


Now, this one is a small point, but a good one.

What editor can you carry on a 100M flash drive? Vim or Eclipse?


Vim is spartan on first launch. There are a lot of features, but they are all backed in.

However, you can use Vim-Plugs, Vundle, ETC to add more features.

You can do the same in IDEs, but they are usually not

The ~/.vimrc

At startup, Vim sources the ~/.vimrc file.

Mine is long, and can be found at my GitHub page.

However, there is one section that deserves mention:

nnoremap <F5> :w<CR>

This maps to save the current file

There is also

nnoremap <F9> :w<CR>:!gcc %<CR>

Which compiles the current file.

These are but a couple of my mappings.

The street cred

This is a personal one, but I like the feeling of using something that many others don’t.

People often tell me

I don’t know why you would use Vim over an IDE.

People also instantly assume you’re hacking when they see the white text on black background, and no mouse in sight.

The colorschemes

In PyCharm, you get 3-4 themes.

In Vim, you have more themes than stars in the sky.

I use Base16-dark, badwolf, and nord.

The commands

Time for a showdown!

We will now compare the editing commands of an IntelliJ IDE, and vanilla Vim

Goal Vim IDE
Go to line 314 134G Ctrl-G 314
Select all text ggVG Ctrl-a
Delete to end of line d$ Not possible
Return to previous cursor posistion Ctrl-o Ctrl-Alt-left
Run command :! No possible in editor window
Split screen with different files :split OR :vsplit Right-click, split-vertically

Final words

So, after reading this, I hope you have a snappy reply when someone says

I don’t know why you would use Vim over an IDE.