sanity, inc.

simple thinking for complex software

On Vim vs Emacs

I often hear the proponents of vim and emacs discussing which is better, usually pitting emacs’ extensibility against vi’s archaic yet arguably effective and tendon-friendly scheme of editing modes.

But why choose?

I love the “vi way”. I was a die-hard vim user until I realised that, with some customisation, emacs can be vim. After all, many advanced vim users end up working with multiple windows, and keeping their vims running for an extended period, which is exactly what emacs users do.

So for 8 or 9 years now, I’ve been a happy emacs user, working with vi key bindings all day long, while picking and choosing from emacs’ vast library of useful extensions. I’ve got a highly customised emacs, learned some emacs-lisp, and yet I don’t even know the emacs key bindings for mark/copy/paste. And when I’m working in a shell, I can (and do) drop into vim and still feel completely at home.

Curious vim users can get started by firing up emacs, hitting meta-x, and entering viper-mode. That’s built into every emacs you’re likely to encounter. To get vim-specific features such as control-n/p expansion, window splitting, and rectangular selections, follow the instructions that come with vimpulse.

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