How to Learn Vi - The Programmer's Favorite Editor

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The best online tutorials to learn Vi or Vim, the favorite text editor of programmers and power users.

Published in: Code

Vim, or Vi Improved, is a powerful text editor that lets you do almost everything using keyboard shortcuts. You can replace text in a document, move or delete lines, automate edit actions, and more, without ever reaching for the mouse. Vim is the favorite source code editor of programmers but there’s no reason why you cannot use this editor for writing documents or composing long emails.

Vim can be confusing for people who are used to working inside visual editors like Microsoft Word or Google Docs but spend some time with Vim and it will be difficult for you to go back. Entire books have been devoted to teaching Vim but if you can manage to learn the basic commands, you’ll find yourself more efficient and productive.

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How to Learn Vi

Here’s a list of online tutorials and other helpful resources to help you learn Vim.

1. OpenVim - An interactive tutorial for learning the basics of Vim. Switch to the Practice page to test your existing Vim skills.

2. Vim Adventures - An online puzzle game for learning and memorizing Vim commands. You play the character of a blinking cursor that has to navigate the maze with the letter keys. If you are stuck, you can always type :help for a hint.

3. Vim Genius - This a flashcard style game to help you learn the basics of Vim. There are dedicated lessons for learning the motion keys (h,j,k,l) and for mastering copy-paste in vim.

4. Learn to Love Vim - The Linux Voice magazine has put together a quick video tutorial to get you started with Vim.

5. Vim Basics - Derek Wyatt has produced a bunch of video tutorials (screencasts) around teaching Vim. A good resource for novice users who prefer learning Vim by watching than reading.

6. Learning Vim - Mike Coutermarsh covers getting up and running, and eventually productive with Vim.

7. Vim - Precision Editing - Drew Neil, author of the popular Practical Vim title and Vimcasts.org, walks you through Vim and how the text editor is optimized for mouseless operations.

8. Vim Tutorial - The official Vim documentation is excellent and includes a step-by-step tutorial. You can also access this tutorial inside the Vim program through the :vimtutor command.

9. Vim Cheat Sheet - Print this because you’ll need it later.

10. Vim Masterclass - This Udemy course will help you master all the concepts of Vim and how to ‘think’ in Vim.

If you spend a lot of time typing text, learning Vim will be totally worth the effort. I wrote this article inside Visual Studio Code with Vim key bindings.

Published in: Code

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Web Geek, Google Developer Expert
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Amit Agarwal

Amit Agarwal is a Google Developer Expert in Google Workspace and Google Apps Script. He holds an engineering degree in Computer Science (I.I.T.) and is the first professional blogger in India. He is the developer of Mail Merge for Gmail and Document Studio. Read more on Lifehacker and YourStory

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