Whether I am writing email, creating a web page, or authoring a magazine article, I am communicating with others. I communicate best by practicing and by focusing on the content. I needed a powerful authoring tool that I could learn once and take with me everywhere I go, so I learned Vim.
Vim is a programmer’s text editor, mostly used by computer geeks. This geeky secret weapon was born many years ago. Vim’s interface clones that of a spartan text editor from the 70s called “Vi” (Vim = Vi IMproved). Lately, more and more traditional authors are giving Vim a try.
Vim is much harder to learn than a Web browser or email program. It takes practice. Folks that have practiced Vim for a while become fluent, and are able to effectively edit text at a pace which baffles onlookers.
I’ve used the Vim text editor for over 10 years. Having been a long time WordPerfect user back in the DOS days, I was open to the idea that a powerful text-only editor was the best way to author content. Buttons, popups, and updates just distract me.
Vim does not do WYSIWYG (graphics, formatting) editing, like Word or LibreOffice, and it doesn’t replace tools that do. Vim just does text. But it does text very well. Sure, Notepad does text too, but only just. Notepad is your butter knife, Vim is your Swiss Army Multi-Tool. If you find that most of what you are typing is actually plain text, Vim might be right for you!
Vim is free to download. The best place to start is the built-in tutorial “vimtutor”. It will teach you the basics of navigating and editing text with Vim. Be ready to memorize a few short keyboard commands, because using Vim is generally easier without using a mouse! When you need help, ask the myriad enthusiasts in the vim live chatroom and mailing list.
Vim is “charityware”: the author encourages Vim users to donate to needy children in Uganda. Noone will sell you Vim, and there are no Vim advertisements. If someone says you should try it, it’s probably because they found it useful.
I highly recommend you start writing your first ebook in Vim today!