[OT] Text Editor vs IDE aka ctrl-s froze VI
levi at cold.org
Fri Oct 14 15:12:54 MDT 2005
On Oct 14, 2005, at 2:11 PM, Michael Torrie wrote:
> I know of no vi user that has any problems switching between vi and
> other program. I admit I occasionally drop a few colons here and
> when I use a modeless editor. Humans are much more adaptable than you
> give them credit for. And often I find proponents of making a UI
> "intuitive" getting the hammer syndrome. Intuitiveness is all
> No interface, despite the famous quote, is intuitive unless you
> understand the few basic premises behind it. Editors may or may
> not be
> ideal applications of "intuitiveness." Every paradigm has its limits
> and problem domains that it is ideally suited to. One can make a good
> argument that GUIs are not at all intuitive for some problem domains.
I use both vi and emacs, and I occasionally have trouble switching
between them, especially when I switch to someone else's keyboard
that doesn't have caps lock remapped to control. :) They're both
pretty complex and require a lot of training of subconscious finger
controls. Switching between vi and emacs contexts is not always
>> Neither ones keystroke combinations, are the least bit intuitive, and
>> any time I have to stop and think about how to accomplish
>> something in
>> my text editor, that is time taken away from being productive and
>> editing the text.
> I have to agree with Scott on this one. I can't speak for emacs,
> but vi
> just gets out of the way and lets me work. For some reason, the
> editor modes is a very intuitive thing to me. If you watch a seasoned
> vi user at work (I don't claim to be such a person), you'll see them
> manipulating text far faster than is possible in any conventional,
> modeless text editor. I've watched in awe BYU CS prof Dr.
> Woodfield as
> he cuts and pastes, searches and replaces, and does repetitive tasks
> with a smoothness and ease that no text editor can match. In this
> the editor absolutely is intuitive to him. But it is the efficiency
> that wins out in this case. And that is one of the key reasons why
> I am
> a vi user.
> Again, intuitiveness is relative. As example, "normal" text editors
> really hamper me because they make it very difficult to repetitive
> in an efficient manner. Additionally they randomly insert colons into
> my text as I'm editing. This for me is unintuitive.
> Now on the other hand, although intuitiveness is relative, I can still
> take what I know, train another person, and help something to become
> both intuitive and efficient to that person. There are some things
> can be quantified.
Emacs stays out of your way and lets you work just as efficiently as
vi, it's just a matter of learning the features that make you fast
and getting used to actually using them. As you say, and as I was
getting at above, these editors require you to really internalize the
commands so you don't /have/ to think about them, you just move your
fingers in their remembered patterns and the document changes
according to your will. It's similar to playing an instrument; parts
of the interface are obvious, and they're generally put together in a
way as easy-to-remember as possible, but to be really good you have
to train your fingers.
> Shudder. I remember the old wordstar command days. All the IDEs
> them for a while. They were intuitive in their own right, but I'm
> to see them go. I believe that either emacs inspired wordstar or the
> other way around. And I can fully understand why emacs users
> map the control key to the less painful position of the capslock key,
> making this hand contortions a little bit easier. (Do any of you
> users use dvorak keyboards?)
I don't think there was a lot of cross-pollination between Wordstar
and Emacs. Emacs was originally a set of TECO macros by Richard
Stallman, Guy Steele, Dave Moon, Richard Greenblatt, Charles
Frankston, etc. on the ITS system at MIT in '76.
I believe vi was developed at roughly the same time. Bill Joy, of
Sun Microsystems fame, developed it as a grad student at Berkeley as
a replacement for ed (and a front-end to his ex editor) on BSD Unix.
Wordstar was released in '78, but was based on some programs that
were started in '76. It was from the CP/M world, and was a
replacement for CP/M's ed command, which, I believe, is the basis for
the DOS ed command.
So, the three were from vastly different communites, developed at
about the same time, as a result of interactive visual terminals (and
PCs with similar capabilities) becoming available. I don't think
there was a lot of influence between them.
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