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Vim made easy: how to get your favorite IDE features in Vim

May 19, 2009, 15:32 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Ryan Paul)

"The Vim text editor is a favorite of many programmers and system administrators. Although it provides an exceptional amount of power and flexibility, it can be somewhat intimidating for new users. Programmers who transition to Vim from a conventional integrated development environment (IDE) tend to find the paradigm shift a bit disorienting.

"I often get e-mail from readers who are looking for ways to make Vim more developer-friendly. A common complaint is that the editor doesn't come with standard IDE features out of the box and it's not always clear how to configure it to provide equivalent functionality. The secret to unlocking Vim's real magic is to take advantage of its powerful plugin system and the large ecosystem of third-party scripts that offer editor augmentations for various tasks. To get you started, I have compiled a short list of useful tips and programming plugins for Vim that will make IDE refugees feel right at home.

"Although Vim is largely designed around text-based interface idioms and is most effective when used accordingly, there are graphical shells available that make the program a bit more manageable for new users. Instead of running Vim in a terminal window, you might want to try GVim, the basic GUI version. It has configurable menus and toolbars that make the program's most essential features easily accessible with a mouse. It also lets you use native file dialogs and gives you the ability to resize buffer panes by clicking and dragging. GVim is available for both Linux and Windows. The equivalent for Mac OS X is MacVim, which provides a native Cocoa user interface, including menu integration."

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