Emacs & VI (Vim)

Over the last few months I’ve been on a kick to reconnect with some old skillsets I used to have and relearn Emacs. While I was never particularly good at using emacs I could at least navigate files and understood buffers. Visual Studio and Eclipse spoiled me and I forgot about such things.

The thing about editors like Emacs or Vim (VI Improved) is that they are completely cross platform.  There is a version of both that runs on all operating systems (Windows, Mac, Linux, etc).  In fact, VI is part of the Unix standard and any version of Unix doesn’t actually qualify as Unix without VI being installed.

I started back on Emacs because that’s what I had spent the most time in back in the day (as they say).  But lately I’ve been reading that some colleagues and other programmers that I follow (blogs, twitter, etc) are using Vim these days.  Even going so far as to attempt to do their .NET programming in it, so I started looking at that again.  What follows below are some resources that might help you learn about these editors.  Learning either Emacs or Vim will allow you to have an editor that is available on all systems and thus you can truly learn one editor and use it the rest of your life regardless of operating system.

Emacs Resources:

  • Peep Code – Meet Emacs ($9): This is a nice one hour screencast that covers many of the basics of using Emacs. It covers navigation, buffers, plugins, and other general use topics.
  • Emacs Starter Kit (my personal fork): This is a nice pre-configured emacs.d folder. This comes with several plugins, modes, and other useful things for making Emacs a joy to work with, especially when it comes to dynamic languages. My personal fork includes the color schemes, and yasnippets.
  • FOSSCasts Emacs: Some more (free) screencasts for learning Emacs.
  • Emacs Wiki: Many useful pages with lots of nice info about using and setting up various features in Emacs.

Vim Resources:

  • Derek Wyatt’s Vim Tutorial Videos: This awesome set of videos is designed to take you from novice to beyond novice with using Vim. Derek is energetic enough that you almost never get bored and the videos are informative.
  • VimCasts: While not so much for “beginners” there are lots of good screencasts here for Vim users.

There you go. Hopefully these will get you on your way to using an open source cross platform editor. Do try and ignore the holy wars around these two editors, each one serves different people differently and as such what works for you might not work for someone else. Find the one you like and use it.

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