Using vim

What is vim?

The program vim is a plain-text editor. It is freely available for all platorms, and is always installed on a UNIX system.

The Dark Side Yes, vim has a fairly steep learning curve, but you don't have to master all of its wizardry at once. The more you use it, the easier it gets. You can find "cheat sheets" on line, and as you get better at it, you can try new things you see on the cheat sheets and thereby expand your capabilities.

Always look on the bright side of life What's great about vim? It's fast and highly efficient. It will open a ginormous file. It is easy to search for textual tidbits in a file backwards and forwards. Search and replace is simple and you have complete control of the bounds of a search and replace. You can even ask vim to verify you want this to happen at each instance of the thing you are searching up.

It is a very fast operation to save all of or a portion of a file to a new file without leaving your session. There is an abundance of ways to move about in a file. Ofen, when you program, error messages refer to a line number. Getting there can be done in a fraction of a second. It does useful stuff such as matching delimiters in a program.

It's a programmer's editor. It is a good bit of work to become proficient with this tool, but such an effort will be richly rewarded with high efficiency at handling text.

Do I use vim? You bet I do; I am a power user. This entire site is maintained and built using vim as the text editor. All of my PDFs are generated by using vim to edit LaTeX files. (Yeah, if you teach math, you want to learn how to use LaTeX. I started using vi (vim's predecessor) back in 1987. My VSCode is configured with vim bindings.


The prerequisite to this workshop is the workshop on the file system and the BASH shell. It assumes no prior knowledge of vim. We will spend a lot of time practicing things, making silly mistakes, and learning how to keep things on an even keel. Ability to use this tool give you titanic nerd cred. You can download vim for Windoze; it is freely available. You can try it out on The Vim Tutor.

Participants will also get a PDF text which addresses the topics shown below.