About two months ago, the Changelog had a show about Vim in general and why, after all these years, it’s still the favorite text editor of a lot of folks. That episode also contained a segment where each of the panelists talked about how they got into Vim in the first place. I thought I should share my story there too (at least as far as I can still remember it)!
It all started somewhere around 2001. I was new at the University of Klagenfurt, taking my first steps in the world of programming (yes, I signed up for the computer science curriculum without knowing any programming language). In one of the courses of the first semester the tutor, Michael Kropfberger, suggested that we should pick up Emacs as our development environments. Remember: I was totally new to programming and didn’t know even the concept of IDEs so picking up one editor over another didn’t make any difference to me.
Sadly, even back then booting up Emacs was really slow and after a little Lycos’ing around I stumbled upon Vim. I started up way faster and … yeah, that’s about it. Thanks to the menus in GVim I also never had the issue of not being able to get out of it again so that was one of the first things I installed on every university machine I was working on back then to do my research or homework.
At home, I quickly got into Linux and there it was even easier: Vim was pre-installed in whatever distribution I chose (going from Mandrake, to Debian, to Gentoo, to Ubuntu, to Gentoo, …). Thanks to that I mostly used Vim and eventually stuff like NetBeans and Eclipse for my assignments. OK, on occasion there was some Gedit and Kate in the mix but these were only the exceptions.
That being said, I never really got into the whole customization movement. Vimscript somehow always pushed me away despite me knowing Java, PHP, Python, and some other languages at the time. But Vim still never left me. Ever since those times I’ve kept it as the default
$EDITOR on whatever nix-machine I’m on. Yes, I’ve had some quite extensive
init.vim files over the years but most was copied. Just relatively recently and thanks to Emacs I’ve started to dabble around really customizing my editors again and the new Lua support within Neovim will definitely help there in the long run, more than environments like Textmate, SublimeText, or VisualStudio Code ever could 😬
So that was my little editor history with a focus on Vim this time around. Do you also have one? Are you perhaps a die-hard Nano user? Please let me know!