[OT] Text Editor vs IDE aka ctrl-s froze VI

Levi Pearson levi at cold.org
Fri Oct 14 13:21:52 MDT 2005

On Oct 14, 2005, at 12:49 PM, Steve wrote:
> 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.
> Maybe it's because growing up in the 80's, I cut my teeth on programs
> like edit, and quickbasic, that I expect a text editor to behave in
> some consistant fashion, and just be well, a text editor, this  is
> also the most likely reason that when I program I rarely have use for
> all the features of an IDE, and IDE's are essentially just glorified
> text editors 9/10 times they get fired up.

I'm also a believer in simplicity.  No doubt, there should be simple  
tools easily available.  Not all jobs are most easily and quickly  
accomplished through the use of simple tools, though.  Sometimes, a  
bit of up-front investment in learning a complex tool pays off big in  
productivity gains. Text editing, if you do it a lot, can be a time- 
consuming process if all you have is a very simple tool.  Tools like  
Emacs and Vim are the direct result of that.  Sure, they've got a  
steep learning curve, but when you make a living editing text files,  
that up-front investment becomes worth it.

As an analogy, a beautiful piece of furniture could be made with  
simple hand tools.  It would take a long time, but the tools  
themselves would be easy to learn how to use.  It's important to have  
those tools available for simple tasks.  On the other hand, someone  
running a carpentry business is going to invest in some complex  
carpentry tools.  The amateur craftsman might easily chop his fingers  
off attempting to use them without training, but the experienced user  
would be able to turn out consistent, quality work in less time than  
one who only has the simple tools.  On the other hand, simply using  
the machine doesn't guarantee any benefit.  It requires learning new  
ways of using it beyond just replacing the simple tools.

So, emacs and vim are but points on the continuum of text editing  
tools.  Although I value simplicity, and they are not very simple, I  
still strongly believe in their utility, and in the end, that's what  
keeps them around to spark new generations of religious flamewars.


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